Sunday 7th April, 2002
Another 2 am start arriving at the airport at 2:30 am for my scheduled 4:am start. Mr "Ramp Boss" is there to reassure me of his good service. After 2 hours of filling in papers and agreeing that he was giving good service, I was at the plane ready to go. It took about half an hour for man responsible for landing fees, to work out the cost for such a little plane.
I had been looking forward to getting the weather from an old fashioned met service. Upon arrival, the met man presented me with a nice folder with my name on it and lots of details, all of which were irrelevant to my flight. What I wanted was "Unavailable".
Now I cannot find the Seychelles charts, dropped my fuel testing stick into the auxiliary tank and failed to get "Push back and Start clearance". So I'm off to a good start.
Sorry, forgot to mention that my flight plan was scrapped because I did not have a clearance to transit Indian airspace. So my helpers did a new flight plan going to new places to avoid the sacred air space. In the air, I asked for a diversion due weather ( it really did look nasty ahead) which put me back on the plan that I had prepared. Did not see any air force jets alongside so it worked out OK.
Now cruising at 8500 in fine and beaut weather and a 10 tail wind. And only 1000 NM to run.
Not long ago, I went over the Maldives and boy, that was tempting to call in for a week or two. Looks great but they have no AVGAS. (later, I received a bill for US$ 250 for transiting the airspace)
Now the HF has failed again. I can receive but not transmit.
Eventually make contact with the Seychelles tower on VHF. He could not understand why I was a bit anxious to hear from him. After stuffing up the ILS (weather was OK anyhow) I park on the main ramp with the big ones. The airport attendant wanted to know how long my aircraft was, so she could work out a price. They were quite amused when I measured it. The airport boss later introduced himself and has been extremely helpful. ( I don't how I would have managed if I had n not become friendly with the airport manager Mr Akbar Umarji. He was to be most helpful on the days to follow with the HF problem)
We had dinner with two pilots from Zimbabwe flying to Perth without any approvals or charts in a new Pilatus PC6. They wanted my help to find Perth which of course I was able to give.
Flight time: 12.17 Hours
Distance flown: 1630 NM
Fuel used: 506 litres
Average ground speed: 134 kts
Average fuel consumption: 41.6 litres per hour
Monday 8th April, 2002
Spent the day with Air Seychelles techs trying to find the HF problem. They take the unit to the workshop and eventually decide that the problem must be in the co-axial cable to the Areal Tuner. So we order new cable and connectors which have to be located and delivered. Late in the day the cable arrives but no connectors.
Tuesday 9th April, 2002
I decide the techs are unable to fix this stuff so I take all of the bits to the Fishing Warf where some of the boats have similar equipment. I am told to call back in two days.
In the meantime, we refuel and find another problem. The fuel bowsers automatic sensor prevents filling through the special hoses I must use. This is a first but suspect it will occur again. The pic shows the way around it.
|I decide I have the most researched, most legal, most documented, most expensive, most cumbersome auxiliary tanks in the world.|
Wednesday 10th April, 2002
Hire a car and look around. Great place if you want sun, sea and sand.
I just want my HF radio fixed.
Checked out of the Hotel and drove around the Island of Mahe before checking into Coral Strand Hotel, a reasonably priced hotel on the beach on the opposite side of the Island.
Hotel prices range from US$95 to US$350. Visitors must by law pay in foreign currency. Not allowed to use local currency.
Had the best feed since leaving home because I don't have to worry about getting a tummy ache during the next day's flight.
Met with a pilot (Don) from Nairobi for talks about the next leg. Don tells me that the Air Traffic controllers are on strike in Kenya and that the flight might be a bit hectic. We discussed the next leg over the Congo and Don reminds me of the terrible weather that occurs over Lake Victoria enroute.
Since I have just crossed about 4500 NM of ocean, I am not sure why I should be concerned about crossing a lake. But I am. I will meet again with Don over the next few days.
Start the day with a phone call to the Fishing Warf where they have my HF. They say to come and collect the radio so I think about getting on my way again. At the radio shop, the techs tell that it works OK. So I show them again that it receives and looks like it transmits, but does not. So, we have made progress. They agree that it does not work and will look again. So I go and enjoy the beach for the rest of the day. Bugger!
Saturday 13th April, 2002
Let's forget today. If you are going to get Bali Belly, it may as well be here.
Sunday 14th April, 2002
The technical boffins say my HF is OK. They did not fix anything but made some adjustments. They were unable to confirm just what sort of adjustments. The new parts have arrived but need to be installed.
I decide to head for Nairobi and gets some expert help.
Had lunch with Don Oludch (the pilot from Nairobi) to try to figure out where I went wrong on the ILS. Probably due to the fact that I have always been vectored into the approach and not left to my own devices as was the case this time. I should have told the tower that I was unfamiliar.
SEYCHELLES TO KENYA
SEYCHELLES TO KENYA
Monday 15th April, 2002
After very minimal sleep I leave the hotel at 1:30 am for departure at 3:00 am. I have become paranoid about the likely storms and want to get to Nairobi before midday.
Getting through the bureaucracy at the airport was a nightmare. I was charged USD$1500 and it took close to two hours for them to decide the fee. After appealing to the boss, they reduced the cost to USD$1000 but had no method of refunding. I decided to sit it out until they cancelled the previous transaction and started again. My friend the airport Boss (Mr Akbar Umarji) was a god send for me. I owe Akbar when he comes to Australia
one day. Akbar came to the airport at 2:00 am to help me off.
The flight was good. Crossed the African continent coastline and could not help taking pictures of the ground.
|I swear I could see wild animals roaming?|
It was great to be not over water but I soon had to climb to 11,000 ft for terrain clearance. Nairobi is 5,500 ft Above Sea Level with Kilimanjaro at 20,000 ft, not far away. I was shattered to find my nice weather gone and IMC all the way to minimums at Jomo Kenyatta, the main airport.
As Don had explained, the Air Traffic controllers had gone on strike, so they were all sacked and replace with retired people. I could hear the tension between the pilots and the new controllers trying to prove their point. Unfortunately, they thought that all of the pilots were familiar with local knowledge and this pilot was not.
Again, I forgot the mixture setting at the high altitude and the low level track to Wilson was almost the end of it. I thanked the tower for the "Check Wheels" on short final. As he spoke, I heard the "buzzer" but don't know whether or not I would have reacted to it. Imagine the consequences of a wheels up in Kenya?
After customs clearances, I went to the "Aero Club of East Africa", a beaut little set up with bar and accommodation etc. Colin Davies had his people help secure the plane only to point out another stuff up. I had forgotten to turn off the fuel pumps and had over filled the main bladders. Fuel was trying to burst from the overfilled bladders with green stuff everywhere.
I was depressed to have made so many mistakes, having enjoyed the flight across the remainder of the Indian Ocean. Maybe no sleep didn't help.
Tomorrow, I will try get the HF fixed with the new parts.
Flight time: 8.23 Hours
Distance flown: 1,140 NM
Fuel used: 374 litres
Average ground speed: 138.5 kts
Average fuel consumption: 45.4 litres per hour
Tuesday 16th April, 2002
The local Aero Club is terrific. I have taken a room and the plane is behind a locked fence 50 feet away.
Before the HF could be installed, it required a modification of removing a small
diode. I wondered who would have the equipment to be able to remove such a small
component. I was delighted when a local technician came to me with the removed
diode surgically removed and held in small tweezers. I installed the new HF and
it appears to be working. I guess I won't know until the next long flight. TYE has had it's oil changed and good look over.
He has his plane on the market at US$70,000 and I reckon it would be great value, complete with tip tanks, ferry tanks working HF etc and now hangared at Archerfield.
Colin Davies runs the local maintenance facility and particularly friendly and helpful. It's a shame Nairobi is so far away. I am enjoying my time here.
Wednesday 17th April, 2002
Back to the bureaucrats. I flew into Kenya on a flight plan only. But cannot fly inside Kenya without special clearance. So off to the boffins for another major paperwork exercise.
The trip with the tour operator has not eventuated. So I have filed a flight plan to go to the "Intrepid Club", a Safari camp in the Masai Mara National Reserve, 120 NM to the West.
I am picked up at the airport just in time to do the 3:30 pm Safari...Fantastic!
I have also started to obtain clearances for the remainder of the African flights. I need Uganda, Congo, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast. All of which cost about US$1200 to arrange.
During dinner, I was informed that Baboon's often play with the aeroplanes at night and "would I like someone to beat them off"? I said yes please and hired the bloke in the red.
|I can hear Elephants in the creek bed below the camp.|
Friday 19th April, 2002
6:30 am wake up call for early safari. Seems like I have been lucky because it is not the best season for viewing the animals in the Serengeti.
So far, I have seen:
On the afternoon tour, we visited the Masai Villiage. A depressing place made of cow dung. The warriers collect this stuff ti build their cow dung huts. They "bleed" the cows and mix milk with the blood for nourishment. Yuk!
What has my attention more, is the thunderstorms occurring around me. The photo's will show what I mean. I think I am here a month too early for flying.
Saturday 20th April, 2002
I have just arrived back at Nairobi from the Safari in the Serengeti and will leave for Entebbe tomorrow. I have revised the itinerary and will send you that during the week. Some local pilots recommended I go to Bangui (Central African Republic) and then to Abidjan (Ivory Coast) rather than the planned route via Libreville. I hope I have made the right decision?
So because all of the approvals have not arrived, I will overnight in Entebbe (Uganda) before crossing the dreaded Congo on Monday.