Sunday 21st April, 2002

"Today has been a real bag of surprises for me. A day I will remember as an important part of my adventure around the world."

The day started with a severe reprimand from the security people at Nairobi. I had taken a great photo of a plane wreck in front of the dilapidated Control Tower at Wilson Airport. I really wanted this photo. The quite agitated security police insisted they confiscate my film. They accepted that I had deleted the picture when demonstrated on the digital camera. "Look, I still have the Lions and Elephants, but not the aircraft wrecks".

The Lake I was to Fear
I set about for the two hour flight to Entebbe, Uganda. The pilot at Seychelles had put the wind up me about crossing the 100 NM Lake Victoria.

The words "it has it's own weather system" rings in my ears. It turned out to be a nice flight in scattered Cu conditions and I did straight in approach across the lake.

Entebbe airport is quite modern with very long runways. I guess that is why I am here. So that I can take a full load of fuel for the dreaded Congo crossing.

But another issue has arisen, I am told that the Congo people will take "pot shots" at you so I must fly above 10,000 ft. Some of the mountains go to 20,000 ft so I want to go as high as I can. But TYE climbs very slowly with full fuel. What to do? Sacrifice reserve fuel for altitude?

I sit on the fence and take extra fuel (but not full fuel) and will be able to climb to 12000 ft before crossing into the Congo.

Nile Experience
Nile Experience
I have checked into the "Imperial Botanic Beach Hotel". I am quite confused because Uganda looks like a great place. I have spent a couple of hours sweating about the best route to Bangui on the boarder of Congo and the Central African Republic. The music coming from the gardens below wins and I have enjoyed an afternoon on the lawn with a goat meat BBQ and Nile larger.

 I have learned that the river Nile starts here, at Lake Victoria in Uganda.

Entebbe is on the equator and I have now crossed it three times, three more to go. At 4,000 ft above sea level, it is cool and pleasant. 

Flight time: 1.8hrs      Distance flown: 275 NM    Fuel Used: 100 litres    Average ground Speed: 151 kts                                      Average Fuel consumption: 54.9 litres per hour


Today is the day I have been dreading.

Monday 22nd April, 2002

Cruising at FL120 (12,000 feet), I have nothing but jungle below, a sea of green, the dreaded Congo.
Another Sunrise
Another Sunrise
I left Entebbe (Uganda) just before sunrise and look forward to landing at Bangui (Central African Republic before the forecast Charlie Bravo's. Flying around the tropics as I am, CB's are predicted all of the time. You would not go anywhere if not prepared to face the CB's. (I like to remember Bob's offering that the CB's are not usually as savage in the tropics as they are back home)

The HF is working and I almost wish it did not. Kinshasa Control want my clearance number but I have not yet received it. They said I would have to overfly Bangui and land in Cameroon. I was trying to plan an alternate, knowing that I do not have the Cameroon clearance either. Kinshasa then handed me over to Bangui Tower who did not seem to know that I was not supposed to land. So I did. I wondered why the tower had me doing the STAR arrival for a DME arc and VOR arrival in perfect weather. Later I went to the tower and found that it was all to do with keeping me from over flying the President's house.

Sheepishly, I presented to the police with my predicament. No VISA, no flight clearance. The boss policeman was very angry and I now know what is meant by being prepared to bribe. He (boss policeman) simply asked for money. I remembered Claude Meunier's advise about keeping $1 in the left pocket, $5 in the right pocket and the bigger notes in the other pocket.

I went straight for "the other" pocket and pulled out $50 and the boss snatched it and got even angrier. He wanted $400. I pleaded and the fee was reduced to $100. But that was only the start. The box of cigarettes went nowhere. (A tip from Don the Nairobi pilot).

No one speaks English and when you find someone that does, it soon gets too hard and you have to find some more money.  

I have learned something else. It is not good enough to check the availability of AVGAS. You must also check if there is a means of getting the AVGAS into the tanks.

After paying USD$730 for 2 drums of fuel plus tips for each helper, I am really cheesed off with this place.

The good thing is that no one shot at me over the Congo ( every chance I got, I pulled up another 250 ft just in case).

Bangui is a very poor town. Not a good place at all. The French speaking people are very unfriendly and unhelpful. The tower guys the exception.

Flight time: 6.52 hrs          Distance flown: 956 NM                Fuel Used: 285 litres           Average Ground Speed:  146.9 kts                                         Average Fuel Consumption: 43.7 litres per hr


Tuesday 23rd April, 2002

A general town curfew between about 9:00pm and 5:00am, meant I was unable to do the normal early start.

The boss policeman was waiting for me as promised, together with the whole security battalion claiming to have protected TYE. So you know what? 

Boss policeman wanted another US$100 and each helper something. To get out of the place with a few hundred dollars in bribes was cheap.

I am pleased to be cruising at FL100 with 20 Knots on the tail. Which is great for the 11 hour flight to Abidjan ahead. The over flight clearances have still not arrived so I have been advised to divert out to sea to avoid Nigerian airspace.

The HF has worked well and I enjoyed the flight into Abidjan.

Flight Time: 9.5 hrs                    Distance flown: 1373 NM              Fuel Used: 376 Litres                     Average Ground Speed: 144.5kts Average Fuel Consumption: 39.6 ltrs per hr

IVORY COAST - I took the day off.

Wednesday 24th April, 2002

I have learned something else. When you plan a trip like this, budget for decent hotels. The cheap ones are just not worth it. When you get to where you are going, you need a little comfort. I am enjoying the Novotel-Abidjan.

 No crew discount!

Abidjan is a bustling city on the Coast and lots of water ways. Also lots of beggar's.