2011. december 12., hétfő

Ek bring hulde aan u Swakopmund vlieëniers

2011. november 14., hétfő

Pilot job opportunity in Libreville, Gabon

There is a fabulous pilot job opening suited even for low timers in Gabon. The Wildlife Conservation Society is looking for a pilot. Here comes the job description and contacts where you can send your CV's:

They are looking to recruit a pilot for their Cessna 182 in Gabon.
Job basically is: managing the WCS plane (organising maintainence etc); undertake surviellence flights over the national parks and their boundaries (for example checking out logging road locations; mining; camps; plus coastal for trawler locations); wildlife surveys (whales, turtle nests, elephants in the savannahs etc).
Photo: Andreas Stoeckl, Airliners.net
They'd like a pilot with at least 400 hours; PPL ok; preferable with US FAA licence; experience with forest conditions.
Hopefully interviewing the week of the 28th Nov. Starting ASAP!
UPDATE: the job has been taken, do not send more CV's.

Good luck to you all!

2011. október 20., csütörtök

Lettre d'un ami

Just got this mail from my ol' friend who's back in Europe and it really cought the spirit of things and he agreed to publish it, here it is (merci mon ami!)
Hey ma Bru...
I read these are your last days enjoying a lekker coffee at the museum, chilling at the sea side in Swakop paradise!!

It is 5 months since i'm gone now and I still haven't recovered yet...

This wicked Namlife is once in a lifetime and my mind is still wondering if it was true or unreal...
Fly by some elephant, landing on a sand strip and overflying place nobody would ever go...

I'm haunted by the spirit of Africa as the land of the brave, the place where people are alive and stressfree. Tears come up when I think of the great people I have met and the times we had, carefree in a marvelous land...

But well... I'm out. You're going to be out. And I guess, life goes on and on!
See you again amigo, keep it real for me and tell all the new crews how wonderful life is when you've got to live the unbelievable!

2011. augusztus 26., péntek

Best Aviation Site Award

Out of nothing I just got an email saying that my site/blog was nominated for the Best Aviation Site Award and I've won. Because "you are continuing to help the "Aviation" community and that your site offers great content and provides a wonderful user experience…" Well, what do you know. So from now on you will see the logo on top of the right column.
Thanks guys!

2011. augusztus 25., csütörtök

One thousand hours

09.08.2011, a landing at Solitaire strip (FYSO) marked the first big milestone. I got my 1000th hour. 
Frank of Delta Air in Maun, Jazz the new guy at Bush Bird
and Shady the gymnastics coach of the Namibian Olympics team
with a nice shishaa
Most of it flying in and out of the bush and over the dunes of the big Namib and the endless plains of the savanna. 
A year ago I just started flying here (and well just started flying at all), and the more I flew the more there was to learn. 
Himba boys
Rossing mountain in fog
Swakop river flowing
My man Theo cleaning da plane
Rain and bow over the dunes
Summer over the desert
FLY baby
Something is building 
Resting in the shade
Colors of Ugab
My Cuban wingman
Walvis saltworks with the Kuiseb flowing into the Atlantic
Henties Bay reflections
Underwater over the savanna
Green dunes
I still think that this is the best school for a fresh pilot. A couple of hundred hours flown over and into these remote areas will improve not just your flying skills (flying the lovely 210 to her limits safely), but your airmanship as well, and will definitely improve your situational awereness (crowded uncontrolled airspaces can get tricky), and lots more. Not to mention the feeling of belonging to the Brotherhood, where no matter where you come from, no matter what you did before, no matter how old you are  (I know, I know I've had a bit too much of The Right Stuff book). The only thing that matters is whether in the air you know your job and if you're willing to have some chatting after hours at one of the cultural institutions like the Skydivers at the airport or the Kückis or else. I got my biggest compliment when local lots-of-thousand-hours pilots said that they are unhappy because they know that I will soon leave Swakopmund. A compliment that one rarely gets from these old aviators.
End of a nice flight
Swakopmund is still the best kept secret in aviation. I mean low time job wise. Flocks of fresh pilots show up every year in Maun, Windhoek, Dar es Salaam, but just very few make it to Swakopmund. It is true that there are not too many companies here, and decisions are mostly taken in Windhoek, or some companies want to hire only locals or SA pilots. But if one makes it here and gets a job then will probably get a lifestyle that no other African bush flying job can offer. Amazing flying from the desert to the savannah and mountainous areas. From this small Africa-for-dummies town, Jewel of the Atlantic Coast. 
With complicated weather and thrilling winds.
Skydivers night
Love every moment of flying and living here, and a big thank you goes to the owners of Bush Bird Adventure Flights on running a company with the most flight hours in Swakop and thus making this 1000+ hours possible!
Welcome to wherever you are
Enjoy the pictures as much I enjoyed taking them. 

2011. június 22., szerda

Namibian runways and bush strips

This is not a comprehensive directory, it just has some toughts and pictures about landing in the bush strips in general.
On final at Wolwedans (FYWD - S25° 6'50.95" E15°59'42.83"),
the strip here is about 7 meters wide
When flying into these strips it is wise to make a runway inspection. This should be low enough so that you are able to check for runway condition (grass, bigger stones, holes and whatever else might be). 
Landing at the Sossusvlei Lodge
(FYSL - S24°29'23.71" E15°48'55.40")
Some of these airfields also have windsocks, but in case that there is none you will need to make a plan on determining the wind. And least but not last it is a good idea to check for game on or around the landing strip. And keep an eye on them even during the final approach. 
Geluk-Kulala (FYGK -  S24°40'25.26" E15°47'50.68")
Approach and landing should be at the lowest speed and in the shortest space. Touching down as near the threshold as possible is a good idea (except when the grass is the longest in that area). And if you selected a low approach speed you will be able to spare the brakes even in case of slightly short runways. But always prepare yourself for a go-around (game ain't aware of you coming in). 
Sossus Mountain Lodge (FYSL - S24°47'50.34" E15°53'35.46"),
easy to recognize from that little 
black mountain
Fortunately majority of bush strips in Namibia are quite long, but with summer temperatures of 35+ Celsius and mostly high elevations combined with sometimes close to maximum takeoff weights you can easily have a takeoff run taking seemingly forever. 
The apron at Opuwo (FYOP - S18° 3'36.58" E13°51'3.39"),
where airplanes are preferred sunshades
Rostock Ritz (FYRZ - S23°33'35.30" E15°50'26.96"),
it has quite a big trough
And finally on Swakopmund. Earlier it had a runway with paved surface and was nicely alligned (RWY 06/24) with the prevailing winds that are usually 220-240 untill it got completely useless. So now we have a nice gravel runway where some bushes were removed and the surface a was a bit smoothed. And it is almost perpendicular (17/35) to the old one, so in most cases we have quite nice crosswinds.
Swakopmund final 17
Swakopmund final 35

2011. május 13., péntek

Giraffe vs C172

What happens when a Cessna 172 hits a giraffe?  
I had lots of friends asking me about the incident that was eternalized on this picture that became quite famous on the internet.
The story behind the picture: a researcher for African Wild Dogs collided with a giraffe at Santawani airstrip in Botswana close to Maun, in the Okavango Delta, in his Cessna 172 with registration V5-ETS. From the position of the flap on the wing I'd presume it happened on landing. The pilot fortunately sustained minor injuries. The aircraft and the giraffe were not that lucky. And as you can see from the picture that was on Airliners.net (but unfortuntely is not there anymore) the 172 was damaged beyond repair.
The story does not end here. From the picture some have misread the registration number as V5-EYS (no surprise seeing the creased fuselage). This is true even for FlightAware flight tracking portal. And a James Dean like cursed Porsche story started to unveil. The rumour goes that the registration was reassigned to a PIPER PA28. The plane was owned by a Swakopmund doctor and I saw it a couple of times on the apron. This airplane crash-landed last year here in Namibia on a gravel airstrip at the Urusis farm in the Maltahöhe district just after take-off. Fortunately nobody was hurt in this incident.

2011. május 7., szombat

On the 2000 hours rule

A few weeks ago I stated on PPRuNe, that in Namibia low hours job wise things are back to normal. This was a reply on couple of questions about the new rule that was introduced around the beginning of this year asking for 2000 TT from any foreign pilot wanting to validate or convert their licenses in Namibia. And this is also true on the work visas and permits. Which would have meant that most companies here would have been in trouble as there are not too many people with this amount of hours who would come here to fly the 210's.
Flooded apron at Swakopmund Airfield

I had a chat about this with someone who has more insight on the problem and he said that it is not completely true that things are back to normal despite pilots getting their work visas again. 
Green desert North of Sossusvlei Lodge

The new procedure is that any under 2000 hours pilot who is hired by a company needs to send their papers first to the DCA. There a DCA guy needs to sign a paper stating they do propose or do not propose the applicant. Then this paper goes to the Ministry of Works, where it is reviewed and eventually signed by the under secretary - the reason is that apparently there are too many Namibian pilots who are unemployed. If he accepts the decision of the DCA the papers will go back to the DCA signed. And only after this can the papers go to the Home Affairs with the visa applications.
The Lost City of Mermaids

So there is one more step introdued in the system. I do not know exactly how many people got their visas, but I see the newly hired Wings Over Africa pilots flying. The New Zealanders arrived here around December-January, and they all had around 250 hours.
Walvis Bay harbour and lagoon 

So when you are planning to come here on a job hunt you might need to take into consideration this new situation. Which might mean longer time to get online once you are hired.

2011. április 2., szombat

In flight

A couple of pictures of the gorgeous 210's performing the daily routines over sand and sea in the Namibian skies. 

2011. március 11., péntek

A trip to Windhoek Eros

Magnificent view of the Rossing mountain sticking out of the fog just couple of minutes after departing Swakopmund.

 An olive plantation at one of the oasises along the Swakop river

 Green humps

 Closing in to Windhoek and Eros airport the green is penetrated by the huge rocky mountains

 Last minute checks on FLY after being resprayed, at least this is what I tought. But ended up spending a night in Windhoek until the alternator (actually the regulator) got fixed.

 FLY's gorgeous new Continental

 Nice feature on FLY: speed brakes. Here a paint shop worker is cleaning the surfaces of the brakes.