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Flap 6 - West Africa & South Europe

02 03 2019 > 02 04 2019

 

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Flap6 - West Africa & South Europe

Flap 6 will start from Bata and hopefully will reach Biscarrosse if possible in about one month of flights and adventures.

 

 

 

Back on the european continent

I took off from Agadir early morning and following Luc’s advices I climbed to 7000 ft in order to get the good wind.
First hour: no clouds, calm air and quiet flight.
My hands are getting frozen (We disconnected the heating system in South Africa because it heated and burned my right foot.)
After a while, the clouds appeared and I climbed on top of them keeping visual on the ground.
Then, approaching Rabat-Salé, I decided to start descending in the bumpy air and the air controler asked me to keep 3000 ft, just the most bumpy place next to the clouds and asked me to report at one point away from 20 NM on the runway axe, that means 40 NM on top of my route just for the approach while nobody’s in the circuit nor around !
I asked a direct to the last point in order to short cut the first point and avoid this extra miles. She approved and I landed rw 21 wind 290/10 kt ! after 4 hours of flight ! Quiet proud of my landing ! (sorry, 03:54 of flight !).

 

I had to wait one hour alone next to my plane to get the fuel...
That never happened to me in all Africa !
The guy from the C office came to me and said: “when are you leaving ?” “Tomorrow morning.” “You will do everything tomorrow morning !” “No sir, I want to pay and make the flight plan today”, “No, it is a 24 hours airport, you will do it tomorrow and refuelling as well !”, “No sir, I want to refuel now, I will not waste more time tomorrow waiting for the fuel, I must take off very early...”
He called the fuel guy (who had been called twice by the air controler) again and left me afraid I would ask him for something else.
Then I understood that it was 13:00 LT and they change the people: some are going home, some are coming to work...
Eventually the fuel guy arrived and filled up my tanks.
Plane secured, I went to the terminal and took a cab that drop me at the top of the Medina telling me to continue by feet to the closed hotel. Nice service ! Thank you !
I feld suddenly exhausted, tired, alone with my bags and everybody watching me deeply as if I was coming from another planet...
I found a hotel, was not sure it was the good one, rang the bell and a very nice lady, Isabelle, came to open the door.
She welcome me and we sympathize immediately.
She is Swiss and was a chief cabin for Swiss Air before !
She understood immediately how tired I could be and gave me a cup of tea.
Unfortunately she was fully booked but she decided to help me finding a nice room.
On the wall in her riad, I saw the famous phrase of St Exupery: “on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur, l’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux” (Le Petit Prince).
I do believe it is the Petit Prince himself who send me into this riad with this helpful lady.
She found a room in a close by other riad and took me there.
What was my surprise when in the entrance I saw written on the wall :“on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur, l’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux” (Le Petit Prince). ???? Isabelle was surprised as well !

 

As I said before, I often ask myself: am I at the right place, at the right time with the right persons ?
Here the answer was obvious!

 

Next morning I lost 45 minutes on my schedule for nothing !
At the airport they asked my passeport 5 times: at the police desk, and 3 meters away from this desk ! Please tell me what could had changed in these 3 meters ? ????

 

Some people can’t believe that I am flying alone, especially in the muslim countries, me a weak woman..., and they look at me intensively, mouth open, just as if my skin will turn green, and when they notice that my skin keeps the same colour, they start laughing stupidly...

 

I finally found a helpful person: a lady at the C office.
And I took off with 30 minutes delay on my schedule.

 

Following Luc’s advices I climbed to 7000 ft in order to find the good tailwind.

 

I forgot to tell you that yesterday during my flight in altitude my artificial horizon showed me as inverted ! I think he died yesterday.
I checked again and it is confirmed: out of service !
On the ground I see a deep mist covering the land, it is nice and even if I am high it is a vfr on top without artificial horizon !

 

Heading north I passed the mountains and reaching the north tip of Africa, the landscape was splendid: on my right side: Tetouan in the fog, on my left side: Tanger clear, in front: the Mediterranean sea and Gibraltar rock !

 

As you know I don’t have 833 radio yet and I was quiet anxious about the air controler reaction.
I was ready to call Sevilla, nervous, thinking they might send me back in Morocco...
I took my nicest voice and called Sevilla who immediately confirmed very kindly that I was radar identified and I can proceed to Granada.
Waow ! What a relief...????
In the morning, before leaving the hotel, I saw that Grenada was 800 m visibility with mist and TAF: 1800 m with mist.
I asked this nice controler the latest weather of Granada: 1600 m !
My alternated on my flight plan were Tetouan and Malaga, I asked Malaga.
He came back to me a little while later telling me that Malaga doesn’t accept vfr flight ! (I discovered later that it is not true).
He suggested me to go on a small airfield next Malaga (LEAX if I well remember) but he doesn’t have the weather (just next Malaga should be the same nice weather ! Let’s go for it !)

 

On top of losing my artificial horizon, at this altitude, my iphone doesn’t like it and switch off... meaning no pictures anymore !
And the view was just splendid, leaving the african continent in a clear sky, Gibraltar rock just in front of me and the spanish coast line with its mountains and the blue Mediterranean sea...just marvellous !
I don’t have pictures but all the views are well recorded in my hard memory !

 

I switched to Gibraltar frequency and a lovely lady with a splendid British accent answered me very politely... what a first cultural chock !
After Casablanca controler all morning... this Lady sounds like :”you are back to civilisation now Valerie, back to the real world !”
But I know it is a fake dream, Europe is NOT civilisation anymore, civilised people pay attention to each other, say hello, thank you, please, and civilised people doesn’t get angry each time they get into their car, civilised people offer a good service when you pay for it, instead of complaining about the customers....
I think you understand my position, I will not start a political debate here.

 

All this means only one simple thing: I do already miss black Africa that I love so much !

 

I overflew Gibraltar runway just ahead of it and saws an airliner ready for departure, I continued along the coast line, left the nice British Lady and went back with Sevilla.
After a while I switch with Malaga and here was the second chock: Malaga’s traffic is almost Heathrow’s !
Busy controler, many airliners, I understand now why he didn’t want me in this heavy traffic.
Still I need to get contact before entering the CTR, event if Sevilla confirmed that I can cross the CTR.
I insisted but he didn’t answer me... finally approved my route: W1-E1.
And I crossed the runways just ahead of them with the airliners landing below me ! Waow that was an experience !
After cleared of the CTR, I asked to switch frequency, no answer, I switched to Granada and turned into the mountains flying between the fat cumulus.
Long final with wind calm and bad landing I must admit ! I put it on the fatigue, long flights and high altitude...

 

I’ve been welcome by Luis a lovely old man and the director of the airport Elisa who took pictures of my arrival, my plane and me just as if I were a Hollywood star !

 

The handling agent was there telling me that handling is mandatory for plane coming from Africa ! Do you believe it ? I crossed all Africa by myself (handling agent only for Nigeria and Angola) and here in Europe, I must get a handling agent ? Come on...????

 

I forget it immediately, so happy I was to receive such welcome !

 

I secured my plane as I decided to leave my plane here for few weeks and going back home to rest and prepare the last legs safely.

 

I would like to get a new artificial horizon, reconnect the heating, change a piece of hose from my turtle pack that is leaking and change the air filter that collected quite a lot of sand and dust.
I will ask Raymond to come with me for one day of work before following my trip: Flap 7 !

 

Luis who welcome me so warmly is sent by José Luis, president of the royal aeroclub of Spain who’s helping me in Spain and who is sent by my friend Blaise from Geneva...
Pilots world is small and helpful !

 

I take the chance to thank them warmly for their help.

 

Luis is speaking about me just as if I were a star who’s flying around the world ! Around Africa would be more correct ! No, he insists around the world. I guess crossing Europe, flying in Turkey and middle east and then Africa means around the world !????????

 

He took me in a hotel and told me he will pick me up at 8 pm for dinner with his wife.
I spent a very nice evening and went to bed very late considering my usual time of sleep during my flying trip...

 

I woke up as usual at 05:20 but feld asleep again deeply.
Later I woke up feeling tired, that’s not usual for me, the morning girl !
I took a taxi to reach Malaga airport and felt asleep in the cab !

 

The busy airport of Malaga, crowded and noisy just killed me... I just want peace please, quiet and calm atmosphere... ????

 

I flew 47:48 hours during this Flap 6 and 160:48 since departure from Belgium.

 

Each day after take off, I have a peaceful feeling of release stress. On the ground, the formalities, the flight permit validity, the flight plan, the weather, the fuel, the contact who’s expecting me, writing on my blog, sending the pictures to Thierry for him to put them on my blog, post on FB, answer my friends and followers... all these points must be worked and organized.
On top of it, there is the stress or let’s say the worries about the next flight...
This is all of that that make me so tired, I guess.

 

Since this Flap 6, I have the chance to receive the great and very helpful forecast from Luc Trullemans everyday for my next flight. I must say that it is a big part of less stress. Often, the METAR are not published in Africa or published once a day. Very rarely there’s TAF, and the information aren’t 100% reliable.
I take the chance here to thank him for his help and interest.

 

I feel sorry to be out of Africa but I start to realize what I’ve accomplished and feel quiet happy and proud about it !

 

My african favorite countries are: South Africa (to fly it is just a dream, no flight plan, no controler, you are completely free, I have some good friends over there), Botswana (beautiful country especially Okavango Delta) , Namibia (beautiful discoveries and nice private airstrips), Zambia (for the nice people and mentality), Gabon (I would like to visit more from the ground), Benin (great discoveries and nice people), Cote d’Ivoire (surprising country with many different sides), Mali (I loved the desert and poor visibility, the nice people I met), Senegal (I love the smell of Senegal and the exotic side of the country, I met many nice people with whom I keep in touch)...

 

Stay tuned... Flap 7 will start soon !

Cap Juby - Tarfaya: on the path of Jean Mermoz and Antoine de St Exupery

Arriving at Dakhla airport early morning, I put all my bags on the scanner carpet while the security guy asked me:
“Are you an ancient pilot ?”;
“I am a pilot but not ancient, why ?...”
“...”
“Do I look so old ?”
“Oh definitely yes !”!????

 

Really nice enjoyable compliment early morning when you feel fresh after a good night and a nice shower...

 

I took off just after sunrise and had a splendid view of the desert at my right side and the ocean at my left side.
Suddenly a deep fog started to cover all the ground and diving into the sea, waow beautiful !

 

When I contacted Canaria via an airliner relay, they were hesitant, not clear in their messages and they cut themselves in the middle of their messages.
Air Mauritania who did the relay had a lot of pain to understand and relay the messages.
After a while they asked me if I can change my VFR flight plan into a IFR flight plan because Laayoune turned IFR !
I looked the METAR and the TAF and I am really surprised to hear that.
Luc forecast were clear and I trust them, everything should be very good.

 

I told them that I still have 2 hours of flight and Laayoune will certainly turn back VFR.
I open my iphone and found 4G and looked at the metar of Laayoune (published 6 minutes before: MVFR: scattered at 1600 ft), ok nothing dangerous, I continue my flight.)

 

Canaria came back to me to tell me that Laayoune turned back VFR.

 

After a while, they told me that Laayoune is IFR again and I must change my flight plan... I asked: “Please can you give me the latest METAR at Laayoune”, “Laayoune is IFR”, “I want the latest weather METAR at Laayoune please Madam”, “Laayoune is IFR”, “Madam, please give me the latest weather of Laayoune”, “Stand by... Laayoune is VFR”

 

Arriving at Laayoune, the controler said the runway in used is 04, I asked for the wind: 250 degrees 09kt, I asked the runway 22, no answer, as to reach the runway 22 final, I must cross the runway axe of the other runway, I requested again the runway 22... no answer, “could you please confirm I can land runway 22 ?”, “...yes confirmed !”... pffff

 

After landing, I met my French chaps from yesterday morning at Dakhla who were ready for departure...

 

The police or any other kind of formality arrived next to my plane and asked me:
”Are you alone ?”
“Yes”
“Alone ?”
”Yes”
”Alone ?”
”Yes...!” As if I could hide someone in my tiny plane, do you see someone else ????? ????

 

After all formalities, I took off again to Tarfaya ! I was quite anxious, excited and had no idea of the wind over there, cross wind for sure but what runway to use ?

 

I finally decided to take the runway 03, because of what Sadat from Tarfaya told me by phone before taking off: most of the time it is the 03 in use, the 03 ! Use the 03 ! He should know and I decided to trust him because he’s taking care of the Aeropostal raid each year, he lives there...
The runway 03 is the most difficult because of the high antennas on the runway axe...

 

Please look at my drawing and you will see the village with the 3 antennas, the crossed wind (I estimated the wind around 12 kt, full crossed), the sea, the sandy runway with some water on it...

 Unknown

My landing could have been much better I must admit but the run into the water, the splash of water all over the plane, the wet sand into my cargo pod and all over the plane looks like a real bush plane this time for real !
All had been recorded, I hope I will make a nice video !

 

I was very moved with some happy tears in my eyes when cutting the engine off thinking about the conditions in which Mermoz and St Exupery landed here long time before me...

 

I decided to fill up the left tank with 20 litres of mogas to be full again for the long flight of tomorrow... just in case I will get some head wind...
In the village, everybody saw me overflying the village and greeted me nicely.

 

Sadat took me to fuel station, the hotel, the fort, the museum...

 

I looked at the weather on windy and discovered no visibility at all for all the route to TanTan for next day ! I was expecting Luc’s forecast impatiently... and they were much more optimistic !
Released, I feld asleep quickly.

 

Arriving at the runway, I saw with the military’s truck in which some of them slept to look after my plane, I woke them up and during all my preparation, they all were watching me deeply...
So different kind of attitude then in the black african countries where everybody wants to help, tries to help, takes many pictures, asks you many questions, is curious, is happy to see and meet you...

 

I added some oil in the plane and asked one of them to take the bottle back home to put in the trash, he answered me to trough it away on the runway ! ????
No thank you, I will keep it with me ! Seriously ?!

 

The police and other authorities asked me:
”Destination ?”,
”Agadir ?”,
”Agadir ?”,
”Yes”,
”Not TanTan ?”,
“No”,
“Agadir ?”,
”Yes”,
”Not Essaouira ?”,
”No”...
Why should I lie to you ? Seriously ?

 

I flew previously many times in Morocco and I didn’t remember such attitude.

 

I took off with left turn to overfly a last time the city and shakes my wings above the runway.

 

The sun just in front of me, the first half an hour made my flight uncomfortable.

 

The forecast of Luc was once again 100% correct.

 

The air controler of Tan Tan was very anxious about the active zones I will avoid.
I told her that I was well aware of the activity and that I well prepared my route with the air controler at Laayoune yesterday.
Then she suddenly gave me few gps coordinates straight one after the other... Sorry lady, I don’t have a first officer to take note of them, introduce them in the gps and tell you the estimates whit-in the minute.
I gave her the points of my route instead and ask for confirmation... never received any answer...

 

Next air controler was much more cool (Guelmine).

 

Then Agadir, who has a radar.
When I was descending from 5000 ft avoiding the clouds layer, he must had been surprised and said: you can go direct to Agadir... ok thank you but let me fly avoiding the clouds !

 

Then, he asked me to report beginning of downwind 27, then he asked me to reporters base leg runway 27, it doesn’t mean that I will not reach the downwind ! Reaching the beginning of downwind 27, he said like a little boy who has just received a new toy (the radar), “I guess you are joining the right base leg runway 09 ?”, “negative sir, I will report base leg runway 27 !

 

I felt completely free all around Africa, sometimes without any contact during many NM, and here I feel scrutinized, spied all the time.

 

In this bumpy air, tired from the last days hours of flight, with this anxious controler, I needed peace and for the second time of my all trip I missed a copilot to whom I could ask to take the commands for landing... (first time was Flap 4, in South Africa during my diversion at Stellenberg Bay).

 

I definitely need some rest, spoil myself in a nice and confortable hotel to change my mind and recharge my battery ????.

 

Another important consideration I want to share with you is about the wrong preconsented ideas we have about Africa.

 

Before starting my trip many people said:”it is very dangerous, you’re going in dangerous countries, you’re going to be stolen, harassed, you will have problem for sure, it is unsecured !

 

Starting from today, I will fight against these wrong ideas.

 

Since I left Belgium with my plane, the only times I’ve been stolen are in Belgium, the only times I’ve been harassed are in Belgium, don’t you receive advertisements phone calls many times a week ?
The only time, I felt uncomfortable nearly in danger was at the city hall when I went to renew my passport (I’ve been blocked in my car by some young ugly bad faces guys bothering me)...

 

I had received during almost all my route warm welcomes and I met very beautiful and nice people ! Some of them, I am still in contact with and some I will meet again for sure !

 

Each time I went back home, I found people agressif, not smiling, stressed, not polite, rude, never say thank you...

 

My conclusion to all people who are afraid of Africa: before getting wrong attitude and ideas, please look in your own country !

 

Of course I have a trick to get these warm welcomes every where !

 

Each time, I open my cockpit, I show a smiling face and I make some jokes.

 

As soon as the people are laughing with you, ice is broken and contact established !

 

In one word, what do you need to travel ? In Africa, Asia or even to go and meet the little green guys somewhere in space ?
Only psychology !

 

Safe travel !

Aéropostale

I took off from Nouadhibou just after sunrise and enjoyed the morning light on the dunes below.
I had a good GS at 3500 ft and after more than half way, I descended at 1000 ft to avoid clouds, the view of the dunes is more cleared and I am thinking deeply of Le Petit Prince, St Exupery and Jean Mermoz who overflew these dunes long time before me !

 

Since St Louis, I am following the route of the Aeropostale and just imagine how these great and famous aviators could fly 100 years ago without GPS, and other devices...
sometimes they had to land down there in the desert of sand...
I am full of respect for these great aviators...

 

I am expecting a strong cross wind at Dakhla and preparing myself for that.
I left the land to cross the sea and noticed a black sky above Dakhla and some rain !
I joined the left hand downwind in the rain and asked the wind...: 260degrees 18kt gust 22kt...

 

On final I saw the wind sock bumping in the strong wind challenging me and I noticed the flat sand on the right side of the runway. I decided not to hesitate to make a go around and if really necessary I could land on the sand-side of the runway...

 

I made a perfect wheeler keeping my stick to the right and my tailwheel dropped down slowly.
I am very proud of my landing in these gusty conditions.

 

I met some french pilots on the parking and Jean-Claude flew with me some years ago the Raid Latecoere seaplane in France. What a small world !

 

They are flying back to Arcachon with 4 aircrafts: a Mooney, a DR400, a Cirrus, and a nice mousquetaire !

 

I feel very tired and happy !

 

Tomorrow: Laayoune and Cap Juby, the mythic runway of the Aeropostale !

 

Keep posted !

Inch Allah

Yesterday morning, after few beautiful days off, with my friend Khady, at St Louis, I left the hotel feeling quite sorry to leave the black Africa, it smells already Europe...
I called many times my contact in Mauritania to get my overfly and landing permit, but each time I succeeded to reach him, he doesn’t give me any answer to my questions except Inch Allah !
I called my taxi to change the time of meeting, he said: inch Allah !
Next one who doesn’t answer my question and say Inch Allah... be careful ????

 

Arriving at the airport, Moussou, the commandant of the airfield is there to welcome me. She already called some of her friends at my next stops, that’s precious.

 

The police man who must stamp my passport is taking some notes from my Cameroon Visa, I asked him: why do you take these information ? This is a cameroon visa ?!
Yes but I need numbers...
Of course you need the number of my passport that is in the front !????

 

I took off and here I am back in the african sky.

 

After this 3 days of senegalese immersion, I feel different, I feel rich of experience and friendship.

 

Sometimes when I post some pictures on FB and I read the surprising comments, I feel misunderstood or I should say I feel that I understand Africa differently than other people.

 

I landed at Nouakchott and I was surrounded immediately by 6 persons speaking in Arab about me without asking me anything, and then one guy said in french: She’s coming from St louis and she’s going to Nouadhibou, she doesn’t need fuel. And they left !

 

My stop at Nouakchott was decided only for safety reason because of the north wind that is blowing these days in this area, I didn’t want to stop at Nouakchott, it is a refueling stop !

 

But fortunately, I did asked the air controler to call the fuel man before and it was a good idea because these guys who left were handlers.
Soon arrived the fuel man who announced me that I must buy a drum????.

 

Me who thought that the drum refueling was behind my back... I thought that in this brand new international airport they would have avgas !

 

Barry, the fuel guy is very helpful and the only one who seems to work during this Sunday.
He fights a lot but couldn’t succeed to bring the avgas drum today.
All the other people want to go home at 1 pm...
He took me in his truck to take me to the terminal.
I wanted to pay the taxes and make my flight plan for tomorrow and reached the C office.
45 minutes to do that ????
Unbelievable, they asked me 5 times the weight of my plane, 4 times from where I am coming and to where I will fly,...

 

The brand new airport has offices which are already unbelievable dirty, insects and the smell...????

 

All the furniture are already broken or damaged...

 

Ly, a friend of Moussou the commandant of St Louis is waiting for me outside and is calling the guy from the flight plan office. The man told him: she is still here at the office, yes you will recognize her she is wearing her disguise ???? does he mean I am a women disguised in a pilot ?

 

Later on my way out, I wanted to greet someone and shake his hand but he refused to shake my hand with a strange and unpleasant movement... what a welcome !

 

I finally reached the hotel after 3 hours on the ground... exhausted I slept on a bumpy hard mattress, oh my back????

 

After a hard long sleep, I woke up and Ly took me to the airport that shows quite more activity than yesterday.

 

And I succeeded to take off just on time at 08:00 !

 

The flight was just gorgeous, the first dunes are back in sight, the sea wears nice turquoise color, the landscape is amazing.
The flight is really nice at 4500 ft (to get the south wind) and at 1000 ft at the CTR...
The approach runway 20 is awesome.

 

What a warm welcome ! Again, it is Moussou who called some people here and I feel like an important person...
Very effective, I reached the hotel with a very confortable mattress????????

 

Tomorrow: Dakhla - Morocco which is the 28th country where I will land since I left Belgium and the 31st country overflew.

 

Stay tuned  !

Leaving the sandbox

After a very good night on a confortable matras (not a hard one like in Mali), Alice, the owner of the hotel took me in her car to the airport.
Once my plane ready, I took off at 07:00 sharp and following the advices of Luc (the great meteorologist who’s helping me for my flights since Guinea Golf) I climbed to 3000 ft.
The visibility was not so good in the front during the first hour but cleared up later.
The air was cool and smooth, the desert landscape was crossed by some nice roads.

 

For the first time I had a Radar Information frequency, and was in contact with a very nice man quite surprised that I am flying alone.

 

He wanted to keep me company and we started to chat a bit ????????.
Unfortunately, I lost his contact but I immediately switched to St Louis.
It is also the first time (except at Bamako) that I receive a transponder code mode S !

 

Yesterday, Alice explained me that from Bamako to Tambacounda, it is the Mandingues ethnic, I was surprised that they don’t pay attention to the country nor the city but the ethnic... but I like it !

 

During all the flight, a small tailwind helped me to get a good GS.
I started descending to 1000 ft slowly and looked around for the runway...
There it is !
During the final, at low speed and descending, usually, I feel the heat entering the cockpit and drying my lips, sometimes it is difficult to breath because of the strong heat.
But today, I felt a cool almost cold air entering the cockpit and after I stoped the plane, I went out and I was cold ! Yes ! It was 24 degrees at 09:22 ! 20 degrees less than the days before...
I left the Sahel area, the sandbox and reach the Atlantic again...

 

Warm welcome by El Walid the commandant of the airfield and the second commandant who is a lady: Moussou.
Abdou helped a lot to refuel.
The 4 cans that has been brought from Dakar for me are just enough to refuel my 3 tanks.
All the procedure took only one hour ! Waow, that an event ! I let my dear helpful staff know about their record and thanked them warmly.

 

Once my plane secured, the 2 commandants took me to town at the mythic hotel de la poste, hotel of the Aeropostale.

 

I am expected, warm welcome and I have the room next the one of Mermoz, I will get the one of Mermoz for the last night !

 

I went to eat at the restaurant next to the river with a splendid view, I was early and seated at the end of the terrasse.
I was busy working on my ipad and when I turned myself to leave the restaurant... Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, it is full of white persons ????
Where are they coming from ?
I had a real chock and I was so surprised that my face should show something while I crossed the terrasse I had the feeling all of them were watching me in a strange way...

 

The very few white persons I met since the beginning of this Flap 6 were pilots, not stupid tourists... I ran back to the hotel and found a quiet place to work.
I asked one of the staff why are there so many whites ? She answered me it is the season... (just like migration birds, they are coming regarding the season...)

 

I worked on my flight plan for Mauritania that I didn’t received yet...
I worked on the weather that is challenging now on another way: the wind !

 

I am waiting for my friend who is coming from Dakar to spend some days here with me.

 

Schedule:
21: guided town tour with a horse car
22: guided visit at birds island
23: boat tour
24: departure destination Nouadhibou

 

Stay tuned...

Magic Senegal

This morning I was supposed to meet my guide Amadou at the hotel at 05:45 but he didn’t show up.
I took a cab at 06:15, already 30 minute late on my schedule because of a stupid idiot.
I did notice he had a strange behavior yesterday when he left me at the hotel but I thought it was because I didn’t pay him for his big assistance, I always pay after the job and here I did well !
Arriving at the airport, a security guy was upset that nobody introduced me to him yesterday, he said he is the chief of the entrance gate, he needs my information, my passeport etc to let me in (I thought he wants something...) he took all my details and I was very polite with him and I understood his upsets.
He brought my luggages to my plane and I wanted to tip him, he refused !
This is the 4th time someone refuse my tip in Africa ! Good for him, I gave him my last sticker.

 

Amadou’s boss, the commandant of the airport welcome me at my plane so ashamed of the behaviors of his guy, he took a cab at 05:20 to wake him up but he could’ve find him... strange story....

 

I left Kayes with a nice visibility and flew a enjoyable flight to Tambacounda with a nice tailwind that gave my a GS of 119kt !

 

The state of Tamba’s runway is a disaster, the sun (every afternoon we reach 40 to 45 degrees here) had burned the asphalt and it is more a gravel runway than a concrete one.

 

I parked and waited a while before someone arrive: the commandant of the airfield, Momo Sow who offered me a warm welcome.
The immigration, who came especially for me because Tambacounda is not a entrance airport, started looking everywhere: into my bags, my pans and bras, everywhere... except my cargo pod that they didn’t noticed.
After this unpleasant moment, they left politely.
I went to the police to show my passeport, no more visa required anymore... what a release...
Then I asked Momo about my avgas that had been delivered months ago for me.
And my cans appeared.
First, I wanted to take out all the mogas from my left tank and it took a while but I received the help of Suleman and Moustapha (fire man).

 

At the contrary of Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, everybody’s not coming around my plane to take hundreds pictures (only Momo)...
The cans of avgas are in metal and to big and to heavy to take it on the wing, we had to find some plastic ones to refuel.
We started by the right tank and then, the left one. Both tanks are full except my turtle pack that is empty for once !
I wanted to tip Suleman and especially Moustafa who sweats many drops into my Avgas but they refused ! Waow that must be said ! I insisted a lot because they were very helpful for this unpleasant job under the heavy sun.

 

Once my plane has been secured, I paid the landing taxes and Momo reminds me to pay the storage of my Avgas (not everybody refuse my tips !)...

 

We went at the tower to make my flight plan for tomorrow morning and chat a bit with the air controler.

 

I understand that Momo is at the airport what a king is at his kingdom !

 

He sent me with his chauffeur to the Oasis hotel in town.

 

Hotel is fully booked, only the suite is free, I asked them to make me a special price for pilot, they accepted and the owner Alice a very elegant lady visited me in my suite.
She knows the owner or the manager of the hotel de la poste at St Louis, the famous hotel where Mermoz and St Exupery slept many nights.
She assured my next warm welcome and I spoke already with the manager.

 

I told her how lucky I am to get such warm welcome everywhere.
She answered me that all this is coming from me, I give positive energy and I receive it back...

 

Senegal is the last Black African country and I feel already sad to leave Africa...

 

Tomorrow: St Louis !

 

Surprising Africa

I took off this morning before 07:00 from Bamako destination: Kayes.
The visibility was very low but I am getting used to it and until the air stays calm, I do not mind, I keep my safety altitude and fly looking at the sides.

 

Sometimes in such kind of flight I take some notes about what I have in mind.

 

These are the notes that I took this morning.

 

The first surprising event I want to report is the hand-kissing that I received from Valentin, the mechanic I met yesterday at Bamako !
It was a perfectly well done one just as if I was at “Cercle de Lorraine” ????
Yes, there is a gentleman in Bamako !

 

Since the beginning of Flap 6, everyday, I meet a stuttered person... this is really weird... during my studies at university I learned about stuttering and from what I’ve learned the causes are only psychological. But so many makes me thing there might have a genetic cause !?

 

Everyday also I meet a “mouche du coche” (Le coche et la Mouche- Fable de La Fontaine - ne pas manquer la version dite par de Funes !
Le coche et la mouche - Louis de Funès

sorry for the non french speakers but I can’t translate this.


These persons are quite easy to detect when you have some experience: they speak a lot and speak about flying but they are not pilots, about weather but they know nothing... they just want to look important at your eyes and hope you will like them and you will be grateful to them...
Some, even tell fake news just to pretend to be important...
Just imagine if it is this one who is stuttering

 

My compass which worked again perfectly few days ago is wrong again (since its trip into container !)

 

Since the beginning of Flap 5, I don’t have Sky Demon charts nor any other good maps.
I work with Sky Demon in which I record all the points I need.
I work with Fore Flight but this application miss a lot of informations for vfr flights and some little airfields are not mentioned. All frequencies must be double checked !
I use Air Nav pro as well because most of the reported points are mentioned but they mentioned too may useless information in some african countries.
Air Nav pro is good for Mali only.
In Morocco, I will turn to Sky Demon again ! ????????

 

Yesterday arriving at Bamako, many people like the guy at the flight plan, the guy at the scanner security, the taxi driver... all of them were speaking to my friend Valentin in stead of speaking to me.
example:
Good morning sir, I just landed and I would like to fill up my flight plan for tomorrow, he turns his face to Valentin and asked: where was she coming from ? I answered: Odienne, Where is she going ? I answered: Kayes...

 

At the security: what is her flight ? Me: it is a private flight.
Where are the other crew ? I am alone.
Then he asked the same question to Valentin in their dialect...

 

Leaving the airport I asked Valentin, why do they speak to you and not directly to me ? Are they afraid of a white woman ?

 

And Valentin answered: they have a flashed brain...
Hahaha a flashed brain ? Yes, they’ve been scanned !
I will keep this expression !

 

And finally the most important, This is it, I do smell Africa !
Since few days, when I take off my dirty clothes, I smell the red soil, the smoke from the bushes fired.... my skin has a different smell as well !

 

Coming back at my morning flight, I eventually approached Kayes and have been very well surprised seing the Senegal river at my left hand side during my downwind with the nice airport in the desert... waow this is the Africa I love!

 

Warm welcome, tomorrow: Tambacounda- Senegal????????

Mali means poor visibility !?

After my day off and my good rest I woke up at 05:00 in order to take off at 07:00.
At my arrival at the airport, I immediately noticed a better visibility than yesterday.
I prepared my plane, the weather and waited for the air controler to arrive at 07 for my flight plan.
Took off at 07:22.


My first experience of vapor lock occurred because of my day off! Mogas doesn’t like to stay under the sun and heat, get warm... i switched to my other tank with Avgas and everything goes well again.
I must admit that for some seconds I thought maybe I didn’t fixed the air filter properly yesterday...
later at Bamako, Valentin will confirm me that I put it perfectly.
Just after take off, the visibility was very poor and nearly nothing in the front, only at the sides.
The good thing is that the air was calm and cool.


After one hour of flight, visibility arrived in the front ( no more than 4000 m) and it’s good for the eyes...
My GS started to descend and reached 74 k t! Pfff I don’t like flying with less than 80 kt GS ! I've been patient...
I had some difficulties to find the airfield but finally saw it and join the right hand downwind runway 06. First time since very long time that I have 14 kt of headwind in the runway axe ! Kiss landing...
The controler asked me: do you confirm one POB ? Affirm ! Good job Madam ! Thank youuuu !
Landed at 09:41 and all the procedure began: immigration, call my contact Mr Coulibaly (contact from Moustafa from Abidjan Aeroclub), contact Total for my fuel, flight plan for tomorrow, pay the landings taxes.


Meanwhile I met Heather who’s a pilot from South Africa, she is the third lady pilot I met during my trip !

IMG 5501

I taxi to the aeroclub and Valentin the nice mechanic started looking at my plane, he checked my air filter, the engine and some other things.
We refueled with my telescopic traveling pump.


Eventually I reached the hotel where they welcome me, knowing exactly who I am !


I had lunch and just after it, I noticed that Helene Boucher the famous french aviatrix was hanging just above my head ! Is it a coincidence ? I prefer to take it as a good sign !????

IMG 5562


Tomorrow: Kayes where the air controler is expecting me! He had heard about me (I wonder how, this stop wasn’t on my schedule) and called me !
I received a message from Momo the commandant of Tambacounda airfield to fix my new ETA with him !
I take all these friendly and helpful gestures as good signs.


After tomorrow: Senegal where I will stay few days.
Mauritania and Morocco = front door of Europe !

Crossing ITF and getting into dry air

I took off from Abidjan and after few minutes I noticed some fog sticking on the ground. Above me a clouds layer.
After a while, both layers joined each other and I climbed to 3000ft, then some cauliflower made me turning around and I climbed to 6000 ft.

 

After a while, the clouds closed below me and I took contact with Yamoussoukro.
They said broken at 1100 ft and I decided to leave the top.
Looking for a hole, I couldn’t find one big enough and waited for a while.
When I saw a big hole and started diving into it, the air controler asked me what type of aircraft and what time of departure from Abidjan, I politely told him I will report later, he got nervous and asked again: what is the type of aircraft, what type of aircraft, what time of departure ?
I said: I am busy now !

 

My dive:

 MyDive

 

Someone from Abidjan told me to be careful to the power lines and antennas and in deed there were many very tall.

 

I saw the basilic, the famous one bigger and higher than St Pierre, they are so proud of it !

 

Overflew the city and landed.

 

Warm welcome by everyone.

 

I’ve been in contact with a very helpful guy thanks to Moustafa, the president of the aeroclub from Abidjan, my contact arrived with some mogas and we refueled.

 

He took me to the hotel, huge and very prestigious.

 

I went to visit the basilic which is enormous and very surprising.

 

Next day, I reached the airport and waited a while to get more visibility... we had a nice chat at the tower about politics, economy and of course pictures time.

 

These nice people took a video of my departure.

Take-off Yamoussoukro

 

I flew to the lake and it was really beautiful but after the lake, the visibility came down and down and the air was bumpy.

 

I continued like this, sometimes I could only see the ground by the sides, when a small village was in front, the white roofs showed me the way and indicated me the ground.

 

Very tiring flight and very hot, my mouth looks like sand paper...

 

Landed at Odienne with 4000 m of visibility.

 

Another contact from Moustafa arrived with my fuel and we refueled.

 

Visit to the weather office, air controler, secure the plane, I jumped on the tricycle and IB took me to the hotel....

 

Preparing next day flight occupied me until late.

 

All night I’ve been thinking about the red sticky sand on my wings and fuselage, my air filter should be full of it as well! I should change it, I have a spare one but I think I do not have the good key to open the air filter....

 

Woke up early, nobody was at the hotel and I needed to wake up the watchman to get some tea. I reached the airport just after sunrise but the visibility was 2000 metres only. I changed my air filter with the fire men tools !

 

I climbed to the tower and suddenly I felt dizzy, like low drop pressure.

 

The visibility was 3000 m and the Weather man promised me 4000 m for 09:00...

 

I felt suddenly exhausted and I hesitated to start such tiring bumpy flight feeling so tired...

 

I called my ground crew Philippe who said: if you hesitate, you have the answer don’t go !

 

Yes but it means I must change my flight plan, call my contact, my fuel, my hotel... what a big job again... and while speaking with him I knew he was right...

 

I recovered my plane, secured and advised the air controler... eventually came back to the hotel...

 

These 3 last days I think my plane has been taken in pictures around 100 times a day (no I do not exaggerate) and me about the same number ... now I will ask money to be taken in picture it will covers all my expenses for sure !

 

Expected next departure : tomorrow early morning to Bamako.

Birthday at Abidjan

I left the hotel in Accra and joined the ultra modern airport, they scanned my finger prints and took my picture and they even took my body temperature !
All ok until the scanner, my water in my bags: no problem, my bag full of electronic devices: no problem, but where is your tag ? Your Tag ? I am a private flight sir (he meant a company badge), no where is your tag ? You need a tag ! Then I took out from my bag my AOPA card in a holder and put it around my neck.
Yes ok you can go !
He even didn’t look at it, if it was my supermarket card he would have been happy as well !

 

Of course the procedure to pay the parking, to go to the flight plan took more time than expected.

 

I finally took off and was happy to be back in the air, alone and free.
I can cool a bit after the extra heat on the ground of the airport.

 

I followed the coast line and discovered some beauties.
Some old fort probably from the Portugese and lagoon and plenty fishermen wood boats...

 

The coast line I had overflew in Central Africa was much wilder, big and dense forest, small beaches and oil wells in the sea, some harbour...

 

The coast line in West Africa is full of some villages, fishermen, towns, lagoons, and of course oil wells except in Benin.

 

I like west Africa because it is more authentic, more exotic, more music, more traditions, I like the way people are dressed and the colours they wear.

 

The air is much more humid and temperature different.
I remember in Ondangwa the OAT was 40 degrees and the DP was 1 degree !
In Cotonou the OAT was 31 degrees and the DP: 33 !

 

Another news is that my compass which was completely out of order since Kenya is now working perfectly !

 

My flight from Accra to Abidjan was low at 1000 ft and I couldn’t keep contact very long time with the air controler.
I had to ask some commercial pilots to relay my messages and it goes well.

 

Before crossing the border I was in contact with Takoradi, nice lady air controler.
She insisted many times for me to report 28 NM before the border but I was still inbound her position and the border far west of her !
I insisted to make her understand that I will overfly her runway or cross the runway axes but she didn’t understand and was still asking me to report 28 NM before border.
An helicopter going in the sea on a drilling well was ready for departure. I ask the lady if I may cross via south, she suddenly understood that I was very close but never answer the question not clear me, she just asked me to report 28 NM before border.
As I had heard that the pilot will take off on 21, I flew via north of the runway, saw the helicopter taking off, kept him insight and joined back the shore.
She noticed nothing !

 

The shore line in Cote d’Ivoire is really gorgeous, some lagoons and beautiful properties around, really beautiful !

 

As soon as I get in contact with Abidjan I noticed the dense traffic, the controler didn’t mentioned the wind, I had to ask.
While in downwind, I guess he went to the toilet, 4 pilots called him without answer.
I’ve been asked to report on left base, arriving end of downwind, I turned base.
The controler came back on the frequency and asked me to report on short final.
I heard a airliner was on final but I guess far away behind me !?
As the wind was totally unstable I choose a wheeler landing with Flap 1, on short final the controler ask me to expedite the landing, I answered: I fly a PA18 sir, I will do my best.
The controler asked the airliner to slow down, he answered he was at he minimum speed already.
The controler asked me to vacate at the first exit (that is at the very beginning of the runway)
I decided to make a 3 points landing to expedite the landing and put Flap 2, dived on the runway, touch down, breaks, back track and vacate !
Vacating I saw the airliner just behind me !

 

I joined the aeroclub and received a very warmed welcome.
Mostafa the president is a hilarious guy, as much organised as me ! And VERY helpful !
Because I will exit Cote d’Ivoire via an non international airfield I need to ask to the Lieutenant Mala with the approval of ANAC with the over approval of the Aviation Civile.
Mala is also a very nice and funny guy.
Sitting in his office, someone tried to enter and he said: Push ! Push ! Push !
I smiled and he asked me why, I said: don’t you say that to your wife ?????

 

I went to the guesthouse and wanted to visit something of Abidjan, the driver took me to the museum that is very interesting especially if you love african masks like me !
The director who made the guide visit for me promised me to invite me while making some special exhibitions in Paris !

 

I was so tired, I had so many things to prepare that I went to bed very late: past 10 pm (for me it is very late while traveling).

 

This morning I was at the airport at 8:30 and started a long official procedure that delayed me.

 

Started up the engine, asked for taxi and wait, wait, wait, taxi to the holding point and wait wait.
The air controler wanted me to take off just behind an airliner after its landing.
I said negative I want to wait 2 minutes for the wake turbulences, another airliner landed and he asked me to line up and wait, I did, clear for take off, I put full power because another airliner is coming on final behind me, but my engine made very strange noise, I stop, backtracked and vacated.

 

After 30 minutes waiting at the holding point, 2 of my spark plugs were in bad condition and Antoine, the mechanic found some cracks in a piece on top of a spark plug (Papa at Cotonou showed me that crack that was single at Cotonou, he didn’t have the spare piece.)
Now there are multi cracks.
Antoine repaired everything and I am ready for departure tomorrow at 8:00 !

 

Destination: Yamoussoukro where Mostafa gave my very nice and helpful contacts.

 

Stay tuned !

Beautiful discovery

My extra day in Cotonou was gorgeous, full of surprises and discoveries.
In the morning we visited Gamvier, a village on a lake where people start to paddle before learning to walk (I exaggerate only a bit !)
The village exist since 1727 ! And they still live in the authentic way.
They are living from the fishing and you can see little boys practicing fishing from their boat.
The women go every morning to the fish market to sale their fishes.
Their stilt houses are made in wood coming from Nigeria as well as their boats.
If one day you visit Benin, you can’t miss it !

 

At the afternoon, I visited Ouida, the sacred forest with a initiated voodoo man, the Portugese fort and all the story of the slavery.

 

Later, we visited the village were the women are making salt.

 

Back at the hotel, I told my driver: I spent money today but I feel more rich tonight. ????

 

This morning, I left Cotonou and all the nice people I met there, after a warm greeting to Papa, the mechanic who took good care of my plane.

 

I will remember from Accra: the beautiful coloured costumes of women and men, the music, the way of life, the warm welcome, the smiles...

 

The flight to Accra was poor in visibility but nice along the beautiful Benin coast line.

 

Crossing Togo is short in time but surprising because suddenly the colour of the sea became turquoise.

 

And again the oil in the sea, the busy harbour...
Only Benin doesn’t have the oil in this vicinity.

 

Ghana looks like a rich, very active country, big city, busy airport and huge terminal brand new. I don’t feel being in Africa here.

 

Here they call me Miss Bush

 

After 2 hours on the ground, my plane is secured, refuelled, I paid the landing fees, I took already some flight plan documents and ask for the parking fees.

 

Arrived at the hotel, first thing I noticed is the unscarred room... I don’t feel good in a room without right angles...

 

I tried to call the laundry, the telephone doesn’t work, I can’t find my adapter for the plugs, a guy came and nearly broke my multiple plug...

 

Finally some workers on a scaffolding started knocking the walls...

 

Very bad hote l! No service, nothing good !

 

The problem when you land every day in a new country is the heavy administrative work.

 

For once, I am in advance on my schedule and I need to up date my Flight Permit for tomorrow to fly to Abidjan.

 

I sent a mail, no answer, I called and they explained me that on Sunday, I can’t get a new permit, only tomorrow but we don’t know what time.

 

I don’t like and I don’t want to fly late. When arriving at the hotel around noon, I still have all afternoon to prepare next flight: flight permit, landing permit, fuel confirmation and ETA for the fuel to be ready as soon as my arrival, hotel reservation (I had to make some reservations to get some visas), weather forecast, flight plan... write my blog and post pictures... visit and rest...

 

That means that I must stay in Accra tomorrow to get my flight permit to Côte d’ivoire.

 

I decided as well to make a extra stop in Côte d’Ivoire because the flight Abidjan - Odienné is too long regarding my range. I will stop at Yamoussoukro to refuel.
But a stop to refuel takes 3 hours: wait for the fuel, refuel, paper work for the fuel and pay, paper work for the landing fees and pay, paper work for the flight plan... maybe it can be done in 2 hours but still it is too late to take off thinking about storms and turbulences and the comfort of the pilot

 

One day after the other, step by step I am moving forward ????

Entering in west Africa

 Before taking off from Port Harcourt, I met Paula, a lady pilot from UK, nice meeting her????

 

I took off with 6000 metres of visibility just like expected.
Air controllers in Nigeria are sometimes confused and I heard commercial pilots laughing...

 

But one was really extraordinary: the controler from Osubi! He even called me later to checked if I had well landed at Cotonou !

 

From Port Harcourt to the coast line the land offers mostly swamps which promotes humidity in the air and low visibility... i climbed up on top of the clouds layer and found dryer air and good visibility....

 

Reaching the coast line I descended to keep VMC and followed the beach to Lagos which is a very busy airport.
Lagos is huge and industrial, petrol in the sea, big harbour thousands of containers... I had to leave the coast line to reach the reported point between the border and found again a hazy air, bumpy atmosphere and lower GS.

 

The air controller from Cotonou was very cool compare to the last ones.

 

I made a long final, the full crossed and gusty wind obliged me to make a wheeler landing.
I taxi to “air taxi” where Patrick had sent my oil for my 50 hours maintenance.
I’ve been welcome by a fire man with a big smile and suddenly what I saw ?
A Broussard  !????
I immediately went to meet the bush pilot and we have so many things in common that we immediately became friends and we can’t stop speaking and making futur plans together ????

 

What a nice and beautiful meetings in one day ! And it is not finished! I met Papa, an old lovely mechanic who immediately start taking good care of my plane.
Papa has a lot of stories to tell and we laugh a lot together...
He starting to check my spark plugs that are all in very good condition and we continue until the end of the day, nice moment and nice person.

 

I joined Milan, my new friend at a pub but I didn’t stay long, tired from my long day.

 

This morning, after some early mails to change my date of arrival at Accra, I reached Air Taxi where we continued with Papa, Uru and Olivier the maintenance and the deep cleaning of my plane.

 

Back at the hotel, I saw a table full of women wearing a shirt saying that they work at ASECNA... I couldn’t resist, introduced myself and explaining AVIATRIX.
I took a pictures of these ladies ...

 

I meet plenty nice people in my route since I started this flap 6 !
I love it !
I took a taxi to join Milan near the beach and I finally discovered Cotonou, the beaches, the sea side...

 

Here the mentality is really different, we are in west Africa, more hot and humid weather, I love the colours and the way people are dressed...

 

My taxi driver, Jules, told me about the places to see around and I decided to stay one more day (still don’t have my flight permit updated).

 

Milan took me for a walk on the beach and we ate a coconut on our way back...

 

To summarise: landed in west Africa, plane is ready to continue, met nice people, am excited to continue BUT don’t have enough time to prepare my flights...

 

Stay tuned !

Discovering Nigeria

 

At Bata airport, ready for departure, I start taxiing when my plane bumps...


I went back to the apron and called my devoted Engeneer Raymond who reassured me explaining it is normal that my tires get a new shape after two months under the sun and african heat.

 

I start up the engine again and took off.

 

Very soon I was enjoying flying again in the african sky, free, at 1500 ft above the deep jungle following the Cameroon coast line.

 

I took some nice pictures but had some problems with my 2 cameras... ????

 

I reached the entrance of Douala and told them my intentions when they taught me about a prohibited area west of Mont Cameroun and I had no other choice to fly in the middle of this famous Guinea Golf !

 

Luckily the weather and visibility were good and I started this long flight above the ocean...
The island of Malabo at my left and the Cameroon Mountain at my right !
What a beautiful moment... long moment but still beautiful ????

 

The Guinea Golf is quite busy with many oil wells, cargo boats, fishermen’s boats, helicopters flying from one plateforme to another...
The air controllers are good.

 

Eventually I distinguished the Nigerian coast line and a very busy fishermen port with dugout canoes sailing in all directions.

 

Above the ground the air was bumpy and the clouds low, the visibility not too bad but my GS was slow and I found it very long to reach Port Harcourt.

 

The air controler wanted to send me to the military base because my aircraft is N registered...

 

I finally got the airfield insight and made a nice approach and landing in a very hot atmosphere.

 

Then, started a very long procedure.

 

I had to taxi up “to the end of the street” said the air controler speaking about the runway ????

 

Then vacate and taxi up to the other end to the new terminal...

 

When I stoped the engine after this long flight, I felt released and happy.

 

Suddenly many people came to me to welcome me !
Such warm welcome was unexpected and very nice !

 

Unfortunately we had to wait for my handler, then wait for my drum to be delivered.
A strong sun, no breeze, I secured the plane, took off the mogas from my right tank, scotched some tape somewhere... and finally the drum arrives.
I built up my fuel pomp, took my tolls to unscele the drum and I climbed on a table (no steps available) to refuel while one of my assistant started pumping.

 

Left tank full, we started the right one, the strong sun on me, lack of air, no fresh water, I started feeling dizzy...

 

Right tank full ! Let start the extra tank... the vapour of the avgas, the heat, lack of fresh air, I had to stop and seat down for a while...

 

We put the cover and once all tidy, we left but the door of the terminal were locked...
We had to wait... again...
Then the immigration procedure...
Then wait for the car...

 

I finally arrived at the hotel exhausted at 5 pm, 12 hours after I woke up with only one cup of tea and 2 small bottles of warm water in my stomach, when my handler offers me a fresh Sprite, it was the best gift I’ve never received !

 

I felt exhausted but I was invited for dinner at my handler’s family.


Nice people and good time at their place.

 

I decided to wait one day because I didn’t have my flight permit to Cotonou, because the weather doesn’t look good and because I need to rest !

 

While writing this text, a violent african storm arised... Sometimes it is good to feel on the ground...

 

Flap 6: Preparation

2nd March 19
Since I return from Africa from Flap 5, I do have a different look at Europe and Belgium.
Arriving at Charles de Gaulle, I discovered that my luggages had been visited and my camera and some other devices were missing.
I wrote a report and the lady promised me that a investigation will be made.
Also, the people at Paris are stressed like crazy, very impolite and rude. I was astonished because I never noticed it before.

 

During the following weeks, I discovered that Brussels is not much better !
I do miss Africa, happy smile, nice people and warm attitude.

 

From the 13th January until today the 2nd March, I prepared my Flap 6.

 

Flap 6 is quite ambitious: from Bata to south of France but I decided not to put myself too much pressure and go as far as I can keeping my trip as enjoyable as possible. If I need one or two weeks more, I will take them, if I want to stop in Morocco, I will stop in Morocco... or anywhere else !

 

Luc Trullemans is helping me regarding the weather forecast and the Guinea Golf weather should be flyable next week, that’s the good news !

 

I am leaving Belgium today, cool and relax, I didn’t receive any stress from toxic people and it is a big relief !

 

I had to renew some visas and all my flight permits of course but now, in most of the brussels embassies, they know me and I do know the procedures! I also have all the good contacts in every countries and I gained a lot of time !

 

As often I do ask myself the question: do you feel at the right place at the right moment with the right people ?

 

During the last weeks until now, the answer has been YES !

 

I had received some unexpected help from Hervé for instance who is doing his very best to get me a landing permit for Tarfaya ! The mythic airfield of the Aéropostale where Saint Exupery was captured by the desert men and where he wrote some books...
That would be an achievement, I am dreaming to land there since long time ago when we overflew the airstrip.
Thanks to Hervé !

 

In few words, I can say I feel ready, relax and confident. I will enjoy as much as possible and I will fly as far as I decide...

 

During my time in Belgium, I practised wheeler landings and security landings with Luc and Steven plane at Kortrijk, that was very intense and enriching.

 

When I wrote the previous words, I was in tgv bringing me to Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle and I was far away to imagine what will happen to me again in this airport.

 

Arriving at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport by TGV, the nightmare start again, seems that this airport is not made for me.

 

Please do not hesitate to laugh, this story is 100% real.

 

At Brussels railway station, Air France desk checked my suitcases and recorded one of my suitcase direct to Malabo. I carry my cabin luggage, my small backpack and my hand bag with me, they said all is fine !
My suitcase carry all my electronic devices and all other important items like logbooks, headset, gopro...I don’t want them to be out of my view...

 

You must know that my recorded luggage is 8 kilos.

 

Heading for the boarding sign to find my gate, the security checked the size and the weight of all my hand luggages and they refuse me to pass to the boarding gate, sending me to “Zone 2”, on my way in I didn’t see any Zone 2 sign and I ask the boy where shall I go ? Zone 2 ! Yes but where is zone 2 ? On your left ! I turn left and looked for zone 2 sign... no sign, I continue and finally I found the zone 2 sign at the end of the terminal.

 

Why this stupid boy didn’t tell me “on your left and straight ahead till the end ?” I guess it will be much too easy for me !

 

I tell my story to a man who sent me to a lady who sent me to another lady who asked me why I didn’t recorded this luggage as well ? I told her that following my last experience, I have precious goods that I don’t want to put away from me.
Then she asked me to put some clothes on me, but I do not have clothes in my luggage madam, as I just told you I have devices.

 

She said, ok I will make an exception, I sign your boarding card and put the “air france “badges on your bags. Now go back to the security.

 

I crossed the terminal again and I felt the sweat drops running along my back, walking fast, time was running...

 

At the security, all these stupid people don’t want to listen to you, they speak to you as if you were the stupid one with this kind of arrogance feeling very proud to decide about your future .
And once again, they sent me back to the zone 2.
Then I decide, as I have to record this suitcase, to make it safer and use the plastic wrapping that all african use.
I made the line and after 20 minutes waiting, my suitcase wraped I went back to zone 2 to record my safe suitcase.
I thought now it will be fine !

 

At zone 2; they told me to go to zone 13 at the other side of the terminal !????

 

Walking fast from one zone to the other, I arrived at zone 13 where they told me that the check in time is over, you should pay more attention Madam !

 

Sorry ? I just followed what people told me ! The studpid guy started telling me what I should have done in stead of telling me what to do because he doesn’t know what I should do !


Then a little more clever girl arrived and told me to go to... zone 2 ! And ask for a manager to accompany me to the security. ????

 

I was just at the edge to lose my temper but found, I don’t know where, the courage to run back to zone 2 !

 

Crossing the terminal again, sweating like an ironman I reached zone 2 for the third time and told my story one more time. The guy took me to his manager, a nice lady who accompany me to the security for the 3rd time !

 

She signed for me and they let me pass .... waiting in the line for the scanner, I started forgetting the bad adventure that just happened but time was still runnning and I was still anxious to miss my flight...

 

I put all my stuffs proprely in the boxes and passed the scanner.
They want to check my shoes, ok... ha no, you must open your wraped suitcase !

 

Why ? Because you have electronics devices inside and the person at the screen can decide what suitcase to check, I decide to check yours ! ????shall I start feeling paranoid ?

 

I started taking the wrapping off... nobody would help of course, all people waiting behind me sending me bad feelings...

 

I opened and ask what to do, you must put the electronics devices in separate boxes, ok I must take out all the suitcase...? Yes ! I didn’t look at the people in the line behind me...

 

Finally they let me go, runnning again to the gate, the last person to pass the gate was me !

 

I reached the bus full of real africans people who already left their european suits at the terminal and adapted their african way of life, some are telling jokes and laughing loudly, some are sleeping, some are chating smiling... this time I can breath and release the pressure !

 

Suddenly I looked after my phone that I always put at the same place and, I open all my bags and checked everywhere, I must admit that I lost it certainly during my runs... but I can’t travel without phone !
Shall I take my plane or not ?

What a stress, god, it was the nightmare... I checked calmly again all the pockets and found it !

 

The surprising rewards is that they play “Courrier Sud” written by Saint Exupery on board !
They mentioned Dakar, Nouadhibou, Cap Juby and Agadir... this is a good sign for sure !
Of course the movie is old and the female caracters are poor little weak victims and I don’t like it... maybe the way Saint Exupery consider women...?

 

3rd March
This morning, I was very excited to meet N45458. It is Sunday and nobody’s at the airport, I walked until the end at the plane cemetery where my plane is safely hide.

 

N45458 never been so dirty this is for sure, I remember cleaning the plane after each flight during flap 1, we are far away from this period of time !

 

Nobody today at the airport, alone at the end of the runway, no water, I have no choice I started cleaning with wet wipes.

 

A little gecko was hiding between the window and the cover... he was probably a good gardian...

 

I cleaned the fuselage and the tail, the front but the wings will be for tomorrow.
All the rest is almost ready.

 

The estimated date of departure is Tuesday to Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

 

Stay tuned

 

 

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248 AIRFIELDS VISITED

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