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Dawn Patrol

Our day off at Khartoum gave us a smell of prison.
We had received a letter from the hotel telling us all the things we can not do because of Ramadan.
Is included: not eating nor drinking out of our bedroom.
Nothing can be visited at Khartoum, we’ve been stucked inside for one day.
We visited the hotel from the basement to the 18th floor just to walk a bit.
Unless that we studied deeply and carefully the weather for the next days.
The weather at destination: Djibouti was not beautiful but the best day was the next one otherwise we need to wait the next weekend... and I must go back to Belgium !


Finally we decided to try to be airborne before sun rise at the Dawn Patrol time !
wake up: 02:30,
Weather briefing: 03:00,
Pick up time: 03:30,
Arriving at airport: 04:00,
Departure: 05:00 before sun rise.


Lining up on the dark runway I saw a dog running just before we put full power !
Once the dog gone we took off under the warm orange light of the sun slowly rising up from the horizon.


The landscape was beautiful with the river Nile, its green borders and the pink sand a bit forward.


We were heading Ethiopia and at the border we canceled our ifr plan in order to cross Ethiopia vfr at FL 135 (ifr route was at minimum FL 170 that means icing and we were not sure to reach that altitude with our heavy plane).


Overflying Ethiopia was very surprising by the variations of the sceneries.
Some deep canyons and between them some very high uplands with small villages ! How can people live there ? How can they find water ?
I understand much better why Ethiopians are so good in athleticism.


Since the border and our climb to FL135, we were helped by some oxygen in our nose, another first experience for me ! And I loved it! not tired anymore, just feeling very well !


Our routine between Gino and I has been established now: I take care of the turtle pack, and all my copilot duties, Gino is managing Garmin 1000 like the pro he is !


This exceptional flight is THE flight of the trip.


We overflew Mekele airfield and we wanted to make a direct to Djibouti in order to reach destination before the storms and cbs.
But Addis air controler insisted for us to leave Ethiopian FIR via a point that gives us 40 minutes a flight supplemental.
And we saw the clouds building up already at Djibouti...
I felt Gino worried about it and he said:” we are not arrived yet”, he even imagine to divert to another airfield in Ethiopia.
But we decided to continue as we still have 2 hours of fuel and Gino knows the area very well, we can orbit for half an hour if needed before landing...


We descended below the clouds at 2000 ft flying like I like, vfr, manuel approach. (I kept the oxygen to stay high ????)
We finally didn’t wait and landed directly runway 09.


We were expected by the local television and 2 fire brigade trucks for a very warm welcome !


Interviews, pictures and some more pictures, we had the feeling to be local starts.


In Conclusion:
I met a great pilot: Gino one week ago (thank you Danny) and we flew 36 hours and reached Djibouti, I think we are a good team together !
I experienced many first time and learned a lot !
I flew in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, the 3 countries I couldn’t fly during my Flap 2 !
I met many interesting people and have many new projects.



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October 2020
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