Leaving Arusha today demonstrated how I need to make so many decisions each time I fly. My small choices can have big consequences. I need to bring all of my skills to bear, and it’s important to have confidence in myself, and the Moth of course. Arusha is at a high elevation, and I had problems with these same conditions earlier at Wilson – the engine isn’t as strong in this environment and the plane’s weight can be crucial; I need more runway to take off too. What would I choose – less weight, or the security of more fuel? I tried not to fill the tanks completely full, but it was possible that I might need every drop and the fumes too. It would be a 4-hour flight and even the slightest headwind could add another hour to the flight time.
I was certainly ready for today’s challenge because I had the good fortune to be the guest of Rob Linck and his family. People here are so very friendly and I felt so welcome. I can’t tell you how fantastic this support has been for the project and I find that I am making friends for life. I hope that one day, the Lincks will have the chance to meet my family. Once again, a big thanks to Rob and Anita!
Before taking off, I had been advised to use the roads in the terrain as a guide – but roads were few and far between and this made the 4-hour trip a bit longer. Getting lost in the big “nothing”, this remote territory, could very easily mean the end of Cape to Cape – and of me. Had I been forced to land, no one would know where I was; the route today was filled with large, uninhabited expanses where no one would be able to come to my aid.
Nevertheless, things remained fairly uneventful, with good weather and a crosswind…until I discovered I had entered the wrong coordinates for the landing field! It all worked out fine, though.
I was aiming for Kitemela Airfield via Dennis, a cropduster who uses this field. I met him earlier in Nairobi. I was also in contact with Otto, a very successful farmer in the area who is working with a Bill Clinton project. Once overhead at Otto’s farm I saw that his 450-meter landing strip was a bit short – not for the landing but the takeoff. Bear in mind that we were at a 6,000-foot elevation, and again I had to think about the engine being much weaker…
So I landed at Kitemela, to another fantastic reception and lunch with new friends Allan and Jo, and later Otto picked me up in his Cessna 206 to take me to his place. The Cessna is a great bush plane and a great family plane, in my opinion. I made a quick decision to stay two nights instead of just one; while this gives Eddie, our the support agent in Cairo, some more work to do, Eddie himself said: it’s worth spending the extra time when the opportunity arises to meet friendly people! The image below is a view from the Cessna.
I also got to ride along on a short trip in an ultralight called a Bathawk, a South African light plane with a 6-cylinder Jabiru engine.
Otto uses it for crop dusting. Fantastic ride at a low altitude, in the sunset.
Here’s Otto’s place. Nice!
Tomorrow I’ll send some updates on farming in Tanzania, and on Thursday I will make for Mbeya.