Sunday, July 26, 2015

We crossed the Mozambique Channel

There was nothing but sky and sea above and below us for hundreds of kilometers or nautical miles we use for the aeroplanes. We did the 5 hour crossing  from Vilankulos, Mozambique, to Toliara, Madagascar in formation with the 5 other planes, us in the lead and the others fanning out to either side like a flock of geese. About two thirds of the way across we did a little deviation to fly over the island of Europa, a tiny uninhabited island that is disputed territory between France and Madagascar and serves as a military weather or marine research station.

We came across several banks of clouds en route and we had to climb up to 9 000 ft to pass over them. Some clouds of that size often have ice blocks inside as big as a fridge and that would not be too nice to fly into. Cumulus clouds in formation can also suck you in and toss you around either descending or ascending at an alarming rate. But all was calm and the scenery spectacular as we edge slowly towards Madagascar at 200 kms/h. There was much joy when we could call land in sight about 60 nm to go, although the land mass of Madagascar appeared on our efis computer screens about 120 nm out.

Europa island en route to Madagascar

Brickmaking in a swamy clay area

Photo from the AirTraffic Control Tower at Toliara Airport, Madagascar of our group of planes

Lifejackets and rashvests for warmth in the water as we did the 5-hour sea crossing

Sea below and clouds

The Airplane Factory's Andrew and Sean in the taildragger that flew with us

Our beautiful accommodation at Toliara

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Live Tracking as we fly

This weekend Sat 25 July 6 Slings be undertaking an epic adventure over the sea to Madagascar in a tour organised by me in conjunction with The Airplane Factory, manufacturers of our Sling aircraft in Johannesburg. 

Track us live

You will be able to track the progress of our planes on the Sling Madagascar Expedition as we undertake the 5-hour seacrossing over the Mozambique Channel this Saturday morning 25 July - live by Satellite tracking.

At the top right sideblog of this blog you will see I have created links to the weather as well as the live tracking site. You will be able to see exactly where the lead plane of the group of 6 planes is flying in real time on the map as well as read here all the info on the tour and continue tracking us for the week ahead and the return crossing on 31st July.


The 6 planes are ZU-ZDL piloted by Dave Mc Naught and Llewellyn Anderson Optometrist, ZU-SAA piloted by Marc Trollip with Lee and ZU-JAL piloted by Louis Liebenberg, all from Durban, taildragger ZU-TDR piloted by Sean Russell with Andrew Pitman from The Airplane Factory and joined by Bruce Arro and Carsten Abrolat in Sling ZU-FXA from Johannesburg, as well as from Cape Town Rae Henderson in Sling 4 ZU-WHY with Jacques Theron and Hennie Roos.

We are holding thumbs for good weather for the route and are relying on the weather map I have referred to. Click on that link and check it out.. it's amazing.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bodybuilding champ takes to the skyye

IFBB KZN East Coast Classic Mens' Athletic Physique champion, David Watkeys, came for a flight with his girlfriend today as we flew along the Durban beachfront.

David is also the new Ambassador for Bob and Weave clothing

David and Dave in my Sling ZDL

David has also been appointed local ambassador for the Bob and Weave clothing range

Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium

David's girlfriend also enjoyed a flight with me

Virginia Airport at left downwind for runway 05

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saturday flights

I had a couple of students today, both with just over 10 hours flight experience, and practising landing the plane, so we went around and around a number of times, a bit bumpy some of the landings, but definitely improving. I also flew out west with Gordon to let him experience a grass field landing and he managed it pretty well. 

Student Mike Axcell looking proud of himself after a number of landings at Virginia

Mike (right) and I in the air over the Durban coast

Beautiful winter day in Durban - felt like summer 30 deg as we took off from Virginia Airport

Student Gordon and I tried some grass field landings

Shongweni dam on our return from Cato Ridge

The cockpit of our personal Sling ZDL as Llew and I flew to Ballito and back

Llew and I in ZDL

ZDL airborne

Thanks Gary for this great shot of our plane as Llew and I took the plane for a little warm-up flight to Ballito today.

Wind and weather for our Mozambique Channel crossing next Sat

Here is the predicted wind and weather for our 5 hour flight over the Mozambique Channel to Madagascar next Saturday. The prediction shows a light cross-wind/tailwind for the flight at 2 500 ft. If I adjust the map for different altitudes we are able to pick the most favourable wind for the crossing as it varies considerably every thousand feet or so. 

Unfortunately the rain and cloud cover on the eastern side of Madagascar after our arrival is not looking good and we might have to divert to the west coast for the fairer weather... a bit difficult as we have accommodation bookings on the east.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Madagascar Expedition starts in a week

Excitement is building for our expedition across the Mozambique Channel to Madagascar next week. The Airplane Factory, manufacturers of our fine Sling Aircraft, will be overseeing our tour which will see 7 Sling aircraft departing from across South Africa - 4 from Durban, 1 from Cape Town and 2 from Johannesburg. They have added a special tour page to their website for the expedition and a live satellite tracker will chart our progress during the 4 1/2 hour sea crossing each way as well as the places we will be visiting in Madagascar. Click on the link to check it out and watch our progress from the 24th July. The tracker will be in the Johannesburg factory aircraft which will be meeting the 5 planes departing Durban, once we all get to Vilankulos ahead of the Channel crossing. You can of course also get updates on my page here as we load photos of the trip.

Click on this label Sling Madagascar Tour 2015 for all of the stories relating to the expedition.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Student flies

Yay, we got off to an early start this morning with a 7am - 8am lesson so that my student could consolidate his landings and get us down without a bump, then it was off to do a 5km run at the Durban Color Run Festival. 

Virginia runway after our flight and the refuelling of the plane

Right crosswind, runway 05 Virginia

Dave with his student Gordon, practising landings

After my student's lesson it was off to a 5km run for the Durban Color Run Festival

Saturday, June 27, 2015

More safety stuff

Preparation for our flight over the Mozambique Channel next month is ongoing and today I sorted some more of the Civil Aviation Regulations requirements - sea anchor for the liferaft, paddles and whistle in case we need to be rescued. Hopefully all of this is for naught, as our Rotax powered Sling Aircraft will take us there and back .. just it's nearly 10 hours of flying over the sea with one engine, so best be correctly prepared.

Sea anchor, paddles and whistle

Life jacket light being tested for auto-switch-on under water

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pietermaritburg again

Yip, made it to Pietermaritzburg and back again today to fetch my Sling from it's service. We went there in our flight school taildragger and then I flew FYA back. It was a bit murky and there was a little rain in the air and the clouds came down a bit low on the way back, but got there and back and the plane is now good to go for another 100 hours.

Selfie of myself at the flight controls

Coming along the Bluff headed past the city for Virginia Airport

Earlier selfie flying in the taildragger to Pmb

Pietermaritzburg and back

It's crazy, we are turning over 50 hours a month in my flight school Sling, which means that we need our 100 hour service every two months. So it's back to PacAir in Pmb for the service.. it requires a ferry flight to Pmb, then a ride home in my other Sling, and a repeat journey the day after to fetch the serviced plane. So look out for my follow up pics.

Pietermaritzburg Airport where they serve a lovely breakfast

The onboard computer efis of the Sling

Without rain, high air pressure and a temperature inversion makes for hazy visibility

Broadcasting live from FYA somewhere over Camperdown