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Flap6 - 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.

 

 

Inch Allah

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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

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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

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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 !

 

Suprising Africa

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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 !?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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 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

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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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