Friday, April 18, 2014

This is how it all started

The Wright Brothers first flight on the 17th December 1903 - now in this dramatic YouTube video you can watch here. Did they ever realise their efforts would go viral?

Today we have Durban Skyye Flight School to take you effortlessly up and train you to fly your own microlight, fixed wing or even bi-plane!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

United States next

This is the C172 Seaplane I will be flying in two weeks time on Lake Havasu, Arizona.

My United States FAA Private Pilot's licence will be obtained from the Flight Services District Office in Long Beach California next week as the validation of my South African foreign licence came through last night. As soon as my temporary FAA Airman's Certificate (Private Pilot Licence USA) has been issued we drive from Long Beach to Lake Havasu (about a 3 hour drive) where my training will take place. The lake is huge and it's Colorado River divides Arizona from Nevada.. Las Vegas is not too far away and we will likely stay there for one night after my seaplane course before returning to Long Beach near Los Angeles.

Lake Havasu, Arizona, also near to the Grand Canyon

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Microlight Flights Durban beachfront

I have flown over the stunning Durban beachfront in my Sling airplane so many times, but never before in a microlight - so what better first time than with our own Aquilla Microlight airplane ZU-CCL which we bought for our Durban Skyye Flight School which opened this weekend.

Our approval from the Civil Aviation Authority came through on the 11th April and we negotiated permission from Virginia Airport to use the Airport as our home base, offering flight training and breathtaking introductory flights over the Durban beachfront, Golden Mile and to Umhlanga for the first time ever.

It's the first Microlight and Light Sport Aircraft Flying School to operate from Virginia and the first operator to be granted permission to fly in and out of Virginia Airport with microlights, so we are very chuffed with our achivement.

Here are some of the pics I took. I also made a GoPro video and I will be posting that shortly. Join our Durban Skyye Flight School Facebook group here.

Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium from our Microlight flying over the Durban beachfront

Our Chief Flying Instructor Brad takes Llewellyn on his first microlight flight

Durban Skyye, the name of our flight school, emblazoned across the wing

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We're off the ground

Having received our flight school aviation training organisation approval (Durban Skyye Flight School ATO 0253) we are getting ready for our first flights this weekend and our flyers have gone to the printers... this is what we have got so far, and thanks to Head Office Restaurant and Budget Car Rental for coming in with us to publicise our training venue at Virginia Airport.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Old and new travel

Here's a photo of a South African Airways / Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens plane at the old Louis Botha Airport - Durban's international airport of old. The photo probably dates back to the early 60s and represents our mode of travel in decades past. Note the three vertical stabilisers/tri-tail and rear entry stairs.

The second photo is my electronic travel (visa) approval for my visit to the States later this month for my seaplane rating at Lake Havasu, Arizona. No longer is a formal visa required, nor a visit to the Embassy, and was completed and approved online within minutes and on payment of an application fee of R150. The travel authorisation was granted under the USA's visa-waiver programme with various participating countries. That's convenience for you and the new way to travel smart.

California, here I come

Wing Fixed

It's been a bit of a sweat with aircraft damage.. first the nose wheel, then the bird-strike to the wing. Thankfully the guys at The Airplane Factory have been doing a great job fixing. Here are the pics of the damaged wing, the repair and the finished job. Now we are just waiting for the propeller hub to come back from repair in New Zealand and we can get the plane back.

At this stage, with our trip to the States the last week of this month, it is unlikely I will fly again here before my return.

The damage from the vulture or kite that struck our starboard wingtip

The repair

As good as new again

Monday, March 31, 2014

SeaPlane landings

Now that the dust has settled on our Africa tour and my flight school office is finished and the CAA inspection complete, I can turn my attention again to the lessons on flying a seaplane I need to finish before going to the States next month to gain my seaplane rating.
The fig. alongside demonstrates a crosswind landing which is described in the study material as follows:
Another technique used to compensate for crosswinds (preferred by many seaplane pilots) is the downwind arc method. Seaplanes need not follow a straight path during landing, and by choosing a curved path, the pilot can create a sideward force (centrifugal force) to offset the crosswind force. This is done by steering the seaplane in a downwind arc as shown in the figure. During the approach, the pilot merely plans a curved landing path and follows this path to produce sufficient centrifugal force to counter the wind force. During the landing run, the pilot can adjust the amount of centrifugal force by varying rudder pressure to increase or decrease the rate of turn.
This technique allows the pilot to compensate for a changing wind force during the water run. Interesting stuff!! It's going to be challenging. 

At this stage it looks as though I will be doing the training on Lake Havasu which is an inland lake on the Colorado River on the border of California and Arizona, not too far from Long Beach, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada and the Grand Canyon also in Arizona.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Madagascar 2015

Sling Madagascar Tour 2015 will be our next adventure with The Airplane Factory, crossing the Mozambique channel probably from Vilanculos, Mozambique to Toliara, southern Madagascar and then routing northwards for Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar. September (next year provisionally) seems the best month to visit with lower rainfall and cooler temperatures.. 

There are plenty of airfields and good weather this time of the year.

What you guys think? James from The Airplane Factory is keen to join us and make this an official tour.

Baobab trees in Madagascar

The route from either Inhambane or Vilanculos, Mozambique could take one over Europa Island in the Mozambique channel landing at either Toliara Airport in southern Madagascar, or Morombe Airport slightly north of that.

Toliara Airport (green plane) is west of Vilanculos (Mozambique) - it is a narrower part of the ocean gap between Africa and Madagascar but not the narrowest. To close the gap one would have to travel much further north which would be too far to travel for the sake of a narrower gap and the weather is better in the south, away from the tropical storms of the north.

Lemurs on Madagascar island. 

 Madagascar is an island running north to south crossing several lines of lattitude and therefore experiencing different weather zones from the more tropical in the north to the drier regions of the south. The east coast is exposed to the open ocean and the weather can be more wild with cyclones on the rainy seasons, whilst the west coast is sheltered in the Mozambique channel and experiences milder weather. In the middle in the upper half of the country are the highlands and rainforest with one of the world's most divers animal life. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dr Livingstone I Presume? - day 6 at the top of the Falls

Dr David Livingstone first caught sight of the Victoria Falls in 1855 from a spot commemorated on Livingstone Island named after him and a visit to this spot and a swim in the Zambezi River at the top of the Falls was now compulsory.

We again crossed the bridge from Zimbabwe to Zambia and caught a taxi to the Royal Livingstone Hotel where tours to Livingstone Island were arranged. This involved heading to the top of the Falls along the Zambezi River in a small power-boat, dancing in the spray at the top of the Falls and swimming in Angels Pool at the very edge. The black local staff who helped us climb safely over the rocks and swim in the current that was sweeping over the Falls were nimble and experts with our cellphone cameras. They carried our various phones through the water in an anorack and had no problem operating Samsungs, sophisticated Canon cameras and iPhones taking snaps and video clips while we frolicked dangerously close to the edge. This was followed by a scruptious meal and cocktails under a colonial looking tent whilst the rain/spray filtered down around us.

Beautiful lounger on the view deck of the hotel alongside the Zambezi

So what if the engines failed now, would we be swept along and over?

We arrive on Livingstone Island in the middle of Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River

Ek was daar - at the top of the mighty Victoria Falls

The spot where Dr David Livingston was said to have first viewed Victoria Falls

The current of the Zambezi was quite strong tugging us towards the Falls and we held on to each other for safety

Looks like a spare hand floating down the river over the Falls

Lee's images showing the spot where we swam

We'll drink to that!

Cocktails all round in the dining tent on Livingstone Island

The boat ride back from the top of the Falls
Even  more drinks in Livingstone town after our epic day

Crossing the Bridge from Zambia back into Zimbabwe - as long as you had your passport with you this was free and easy to do for Southern African citizens.

Warthogs wondering around the gardens

The beers were all good on our trip and cost between 18BWP (about R25 in Botswana) to USD$3 in Zimbabwe and a little less in Zambia

The view of the Bridge from the Victoria Falls Hotel where we re-convened with the group of Sling owners for sundowners before heading off to supper elsewhere.

Earlier crazy excitement: Bridge Swing

What I didn't tell you earlier was that the day started off before our venture to the top of the Falls with a daring proposal that we all club in for a Swing or Bungee from the Vic Falls bridge. I wasn't keen to jump or swing but it was agreed that we would all club in for the R1500 ticket and if the person drawn out the hat didn't want to jump, he could nominate another. Of course my name came out of the hat and I was definitely not going to do it, so Blane got my nomination. He in turn demanded that James join him, so here they are doing the leap of faith.

Sandy draws my name out of the packet of names James was holding

James and Blane link together for a joint swing from the bridge over the Zambezi, James making sure his balls don't get lacerated by the rope as it suddenly jerks tight.

One small step for man...

They ended up dangling just above the water in the 90m drop

Excellent photo by Cobus of the two dangling at the end of the rope

I owed James and Blane a drink after letting them do the deed on my behalf

The Zambian Royal Livingstone Hotel

The Royal Livingstone Hotel on the Zambian side of the Falls is the key to getting to the top of the Falls and is situated on the banks of the Zambezi River a short boat ride away from the edge.

The spray from the Falls in view from their cocktail deck

The Livingstone dining room at the hotel which was voted the 7th best hotel restaurant in the world