A slow and quiet day today – went to see Victoria Falls, also commonly known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (“the smoke that thunders”), and the town of Livingstone. Very little water also at the falls, but it was still an impressive sight. After all, it’s known as the largest waterfall in the world. The falls stretch across a very big area, with a width of about 1,700 m and a height of more than 100 m. The city of Livingstone struck me as very nice, clean and well-organized.
Life in the Cockpit: A Short Interview
My wife Lena asked decided to conduct a brief “interview” with me, to give Cape to Cape’s followers a better idea of the practical aspects of flying in this adventure. I don’t know if other pilots use the same approach, but I found that the following works for me.
Do you eat or drink when flying? When I fly long distances, I keep one bottle of water – never soda or sweet drinks – within easy reach, on the floor next to my seat. I try to have some fruit like bananas and apples. There is not much room for anything else really.
What else do you have with you in the cockpit? I also have the handheld Gopro camera, in case I want to take a picture or film a video clip. I have the iPad tablet on my right leg and my iPhone in my right pocket or the little canvas pocket to the right in the aeroplane.
You have a copy of Gösta Andrée’s wool suit, and flew in that earlier in the adventure. What do you wear now when flying? I often fly in long pants, a uniform shirt, a leather jacket and an inflatable lifejacket. You might wonder about the lifejacket, but flying over large stretches of water is not that uncommon and the jacket is not in the way. It is a habit from my time in the military, when wearing a lifejacket was mandatory.
What else do you have with you in the cockpit? I have a multitool pocket knife and a flashlight attached to my jacket. These are always good to have in case it gets dark or if I should need to cut myself free from the aeroplane after a crash…one must always be prepared.
Besides piloting the plane itself, are there other things you need to do while flying, such as communicating on the radio? Part of the beauty of flying a plane like this is that it’s so easy to look out over the side of the cockpit and admire the landscape. But when doing so I am also trying to find something to aim for, to make navigation easier. I continually scan the instruments and I adjust the throttle lever and the mixture control quite often.
I often leave the iPad screen off, because as I have discovered that the flying is calmer when I’m not focused on the screen; it’s better when I just look at the magnetic compass and look around me. Sometimes I can fly for 30-90 minutes without even looking at the GPS. I am always close enough to course when I finally check it. As for the radio, I use it very little. In Europe it is not necessary in uncontrolled airspace, and in Africa there is no coverage. On occasion I listen to music via my iPhone earplugs. The noise level around me is pretty high already, so I only do that when I get really bored!
On to Botswana
Tomorrow starts an exciting 4 days in Botswana and I hope to meet Brett and his Tiger Moth in Kasane tomorrow. I do not really know what is planned, but that is okay. I am planning to fly a close formation with Brett’s Tiger Moth and just follow along. What a change it will compared to everything up until now. I have been very alone with all the decisions and the harsh terrain below…The next item on the schedule is reaching South African airspace on the 17 October and landing at Barangwanath Airfield southwest of Johannesburg.
I have completed about 106 flight hours since leaving the North Cape and I believe I have about 17 hours to go to reach the Cape of Good Hope. We are getting close but I still have some challenging flying to do, so I refuse to relax until this project is safely on the ground at Stellenbosch Airfield, on 24 October at 15:10, as is planned.
I have not been completely healthy during much of the trip in Africa, unfortunately. My stomach has been upset and I have still a little bit of a dry cough since Sudan… The dry air and the stress of being detained and trying to find a way through South Sudan has been worse on me than I expected.
Nevertheless, I feel fantastic at the moment! I can feel that somehow I have adjusted to the heat, and I feel more at home with the expression “this is Africa”. I guess it what it now means to me is this: be patient, and accept things as they are. Leave the hectic European attitude somewhere else, because this is Africa… 🙂