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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 ?”
“Alone ?”
”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...


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 ?”,
”Not TanTan ?”,
“Agadir ?”,
”Not Essaouira ?”,
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 !




September 2019
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