2010. december 31., péntek

Happy New Year

2010. december 14., kedd

Low season and Cpt. Somatiko gone

After the immense flying of the last couple of months (70+ hours in average) December brought the low season. But the nice weather - well, sometimes -, and the family really makes me forget about not flying every day. And grabbing a few hours every two-three days is a good way to stay in shape...
Swakopmund is filling up with people and the little sleepiness that characterizes the town most of the year is gone. Summer is here and the café's are full of tourists. The preparations for Christmas has started as well. Funny if you are used to have cold and snow this season.
In the meantime, my good friend Cpt. Somatiko has left the Bush Birds. Here's his last visit to the airport. Posing with Andreas our hangar boy and FUN. Take care my friend!

And a couple of shots I took the last weeks. 

 The fogline a couple of miles from the shore
V5-FBJ surfing the waves
V5-MMW enroute to the Diamond Camps
Operation "Desert Storm" 
Burning sky: sunset over Swakopmund
V5-MMW: the patchwork plane
V5-FLY: note the GoPro cam on the vertical fin
 The FLY with Cpt. Schnitzeli closing in

2010. december 1., szerda


November has ended and our big Movember has ended as well. What is this all about? Long live Magnum PI!
www.movember.com puts it this way: The idea for Movember was sparked in 2003 over a few beers in Melbourne, Australia.  The guys behind it joked about 80's fashion and decided it was time to bring the moustache back.  In order to justify their Mos (Australian slang for moustache), they used their new looks to raise money for prostate cancer research… never dreaming that facial hair would ultimately lead to a global movement that would get men talking about a taboo subject – their health.
Tough with Cpt. Schnitzeli
And well, not only my mo grew but the flown hours as well. Logged 74.2 or so...
You would think there's always CAVOK over the desert... Well yeah, except when there's nice thunderstorms. This one rampageing over the Kuiseb Canyon. And we can finally see some water in the river.

Cpt. Cubano at the Long Wall

There's a Bushkaptain flying somewhere over the extraterestrial landscape
Dirty belly
Me over nothing

2010. november 6., szombat

Rostock Ritz International

There are some nice strips here. One of them is Rostock Ritz International. Quite a name for a bush strip that is like a rollercoaster. 
We had all three airplanes fly there and pick up some guests. I was warned that the runway is quite wavy, but still managed to put the gears down on top of one of the bumps and then had the ground running out from under me. 
Had to keep the nose up, and apply a bit of power so I have good flow over the elevator and the nose doesn't fall down. 
There are two things you can do if you bump a 210: go around (this is what instructors will tell you), so you don't end up bouncing the runway like a dolphin and eventually hitting too hard with the nosewheel and bend it back... The other trick is to apply some power and have proper flow around the elevator even at low speeds. 
Thus you can keep the nose up, and gently touch down. Although this isn't the way you should start in case of a short runway. Floating above it with less and less distance... 
Takeoffs are also tricky sometimes. Elevation of these strips are around 2500-3000 feet. With temperatures of 35 degrees. You quickly get density altitudes of 5500 feet or more. But Windhoek beats everything around here I guess. 
Captain Somatiko took one of our airplanes to Windhoek Eros (FYWE) for MPI. The elevation of the runway there is 5500 feet. When he was taking off to come back there was 35 degrees and this makes a density altitude of slightly less then 9000 feet. When he applied full power the manifold pressure was 22 inches instead of 28. Nice. Good that he was alone in the airplane and the runway is quite long. But even a powerhouse like the 210 can run out of horses under these conditions.
In the bush no landing and no takoff is a routine. Runways are either short or narrow, sometimes both, winds can be quite strong and temperatures high. And you can always randezvous with some game. 

2010. október 22., péntek

The SossusFly

Long time no see...
I always have an excuse not updating the blog, and now it is my family. 
Finally the girls arrived. Even if their entry into Namibia wasn't as smooth as it could have been. Freakin bureaucrats... But well, they are here and that is what matters. And I've been spending all my free time with them. 
Flyin' and family, things couldn't be better. 

But here I am again. 
East abeam WBV

And as my Hungarian readers asked me to write and post some pictures on the routes I fly this post is going to be dedicated to the SossusFly scenic that we use to fly quite often. A roundtrip that you cannot be tired of. An amazing scenic flight over world's highest dunes in the Namib Sossusvlei area, the Kuiseb Canyon and the Diamond Area as well as some shipwrecks along the Atlantic coast. And here are a couple of pictures as well.
Kuiseb river, a natural border between the sand and the stone desert

The SossusFly is a 600 and something kilometres long flight. Usually two hours and a couple of minutes. 
It first takes you over the stone desert to the South, past Walvis Bay towards the Kuiseb River dry river, which we usually meet at the Swartbankberg. 

The Kuiseb is a border between the sand and the stone desert. Passing the Gobabeb Desert Research Station and some topnaar bushman villages we get to the canyon of the Kuiseb river. A really wild and fantastic formation. 
Topnaar bushman setlement along the Kuiseb

After flying for a while on both sides of the canyon we get to the Zebra pan, where we can spot some animals (zebras, ostriches, oryx...) we take a Southerly heading and enter the wast sand desert, the Big Namib towards the Sossusvlei area. 

Passing the Tsondab dry river and vlei there are petrified dunes, proof of the prehistoric age of this desert. The changing dune world warns us that we're soon at the Sossusvlei area, flying towards the Tsauchab dry river valley. 
Dune 45

The valley is the so called Dune Corridor. With the worlds highest dunes on both sides. These dunes can reach up to 400 meters. And because of having winds from different directions the dunes here are more sided. The star dunes. Most famous of them being the Dune 45. Over this dune we turn West and follow the valley, passing quite a few vlei's (clay pans). Here's an other very famous vlei, the Deadvlei, with quite a few dead and soaked acacia trees. Right after passing the Deadvlei we are at the end of the valley, where the Tsauchab river dissapears under the sand dunes. This is the actual Sossusvlei. 
Again we have a longer trip over the almost endless sand. Depending on the temperatures the desert is playing a colourful palette. From greyish magnetite to reddish iron oxide. And we are approaching the coast and the Diamond Areas. There are three more camps here, abandoned. Skeletons from the past. 
Diamond camp No. 2

Leaving the camps we fly to the coast to pass by the famous Edward Bohlen shipwreck. A one hundred meter long cargo ship that ran to ground in 1909. Also proof of how quickly the desert claims the ocean. The shipwreck today is couple of hundred meters from the coast. As the sand moves into the Atlantic 30 centimeters a year.
Along the coast there are lots of seal colonies and a the beautiful contrast of the desert dissapearing right in the ocean is breathtaking. 
Speeding North along the coast we pass the Shaunee shipwreck. And the Langwand (Long Wall), where the sand falls steeply into the water.
Langewand with a fog stripe

Sandwich harbour is our next destination. A huge bird sanctuary with enormous flocks of flamingos, cormorans, pelicans. 
Salt works at Walvis Bay

And we are back at the Kuiseb river. More exactly the Delta of the Kuiseb river. With the Walvis Bay salt pans on the Northern side.
Walvis Bay harbour and V5-FLY

In a couple of minutes we are West abeam Swakopmund. A quick glance on the Jetty, the Lighthouse, gears down... and we are on right base 17. 
A Pleasure Flights 210 on my tail

2010. szeptember 6., hétfő

On Namibian stuff

As I promised here's what awaits you if you get hired by a Namibian company.
First of all you will need to validate your license. This is not a great deal. You will need to take two exams. A Namibian Air Law and a Radiotelephony. For Air Law there is a small leaflet, you read it once and you will easily pass the test. Mainly ICAO stuff. 
Geluk (FYGK) pick up day
The Radiotelephony is dependant on where you do it. If you have the possibility to chose go for the exam with Pierre, a pilot and ATC in Walvis Bay. He has a written exam on TIBA and other freqvencies as well as radio failure procedures. Then he will brief you on the Namibian airspace specifications. One of them being the "talk-talk-talk". There is no radar yet for the airspace here. So no transponder codes are given to airplanes. So you need to make your reports regularly. And as you start flying you will see how important the "talk-talk-talk" rule is. Flying on a busy Sossusvlei scenic day with ten other planes around you is quite fun...
Over the big Namib
If you are done with that the DCA will sooner or later issue you a Student Pilot License, so you can start doing your C210 type rating. Which for some might sound crazy, but that's how it is these places. Type rating for every airplane you fly (be it a 152...). But this will mean just a couple of hours flying on type with an instructor.
Walvis Bay harbor
For your license validation you will also need to have a license verification. This means that the namibian DCA sends a request to your home DCA asking them if your license is genuine or you just bought it on the flea market. If you have any contacts to your DCA let the Namibians know about it as in the majority of cases their database is outdated and they are sending requests to non existing addresses. Also you may try to ask for a verification yourself.
In the meantime your company will send a couple of papers to the Ministry of Home Affairs requesting a work visa or work permit. 
Little airplane in the canyon
During this procedure - depending on company - you start your line training. You will be put in the right seat anytime there is a free one. I managed to do around 40 hours right hand.
One day your work visa arrives and if you are lucky enough your license validation will also be there. And you start flying left hand seat with one of the company's senior pilots. Then one day you get signed off and start flying on your own.
There might seem to be lots of waiting, lots of fighting, but the rewards are high! You are finally flying...

2010. augusztus 31., kedd

Pics and pax

Having crappy internet and being focused to get online prevented me from updating this blog regularly, but now that I'm online I will start being more regularly here. For a start here's a couple of "commercial flying" pictures (some made by me, some by Tobi).

On the beach

Entering Kuiseb canyon


One of my first passenger groups
My next entry will be on Namibian license validation and work visa process. Till then flying low...

2010. augusztus 24., kedd


The fleet: FLY FOR FUN

Had a pretty long road to here but finally made it. Papers sorted out. Did lots of hours right hand seat and after getting my license validation I had quite a few left hand seat flights (let's say PICUS) when finally the company and my colleagues decided that the time has come for me to go online. 

Backtracking my first bush strip: Namib Naukluft Lodge

I was lucky enough to have all my papers done and sorted by the company. I only had to sign them and the rest was taken care of. Well, except the mandatory radiotelephony and air law exam. But those are really just a formality here in Namibia. Check them quickly and forget about them.

Am landing RWY17: great shadow (photo by Kike)

The next step is much harder. Flying. You'd think we have fantastic allover sunny days here in Swakopmund... Well, nope. This is the Skeleton Coast. Fog comes and goes unpredictable. You take off on a bright afternoon, when you can see the Brazilian coast on the other side of the Atlantic, for a standard Sossus (will have my next entry on this one) and when you come back two hours later visibility is just above a mile with a 500 feet base (oh, not AGL!). 
SVFR... Swakopmund VFR.
A view towards Sossusvlei and Tschauhab river valley (Dune Corridor)

This could be the end of the world

2010. augusztus 9., hétfő

Great flying

With all the paperwork done and tests passed I'm just waiting for the Namibian DCA to issue my validation and then go online as soon as possible and as soon as Andy gives me the go. 
The season is picking up, there are more and more flights so the pilots get to fly more and more.
Bush Birds are busy. And fortunately there is lots of "line training" flights for me as well.
One of the nicest trips we do is flying to Opuwo for a Himba excursion. I did it two times last week. A visit to a Himba village is really great experience. On both flights we had to take off from Arandis, a nearby town, where the fog does not reach in the morning. The flights is over fantastically varying terrain. From the stone desert surrounding Swakopmund area to the savanna. There are huge prehistorical remnants of volcanoes, flat topped mountains, craters and canyons on the way.
Table mountains

Opuwo is the gate to Himba "country". The trips are organised by the Opuvo Country Lodge, a luxurious resort on the hilltop above the town. Looking northwest on the valley where the Himba villages are. I'll let you the pictures show you the tale a bit and in the future I will focus again on the flying side of things.

The Brandberg

Opuwo County Lodge

Opuwo Airport apron and a couple of local souvenir sellers

The famous Himba hairstyle and kids in front of a traditional hut