Yesterday I had a long flight from Mbeya in Tanzania to Mfuwe in Zambia. It went well, especially due to some tailwind, suddenly made the trip easier!
Take off still tricky with almost no climb performance and I was struggling to get height enough over the mountains just south of Mbeya and the border to Zambia.
Terrain in Zambia is very remote, you feel alone with no radio coverage and bad terrain below.
I went into the valley I have mentioned before and still get surprised how dry these countries are.
The river (and rivers, many rivers connect to the main river) was dried up. My plan was to follow the river as a life line – the dried up river banks were definitely possible to land at, better than the forest.
As the day progresses I start to get strong turbulence from the mechanic via wind, terrain and also thermals. Hot air giving turbulence and extra energy.
Struggling with this I finally landed in Mfuwe. A long run way in the middle of nowhere. I called for a fuel uplift shortly before landing and got the answer it was finished! On ground I got a nice welcome – the Moth still attracts.
The avgas fuel was finished and the truck delivering was delayed and could take days…. I started to talk mogas, and petrol station but was warned that was 25 km away and often without fuel – now what to do?
After some smiles from me and “Cape to Cape talk” I managed to find out that there was fuel left, but staff did not want to run the pump dry. I got 100 liters and the day was saved!
After wiping oil and preparing aeroplane for parking, I did immigration (30 minutes) and the flight plan (30min). I was picked up by the staff from Mushroom Lodge in an open Landrover, 45 minutes of driving took me to the range perfectly situated by the river. There were elephants and all sorts of animals at the foot step! River unfortunately dried out. Included in lodge was food and 4 hours safari! Since I was the only guest, the tour was me and two guides in the Landrover. We saw lion, giraffe, elephant and even a leopard “having dinner”– great safari!
This morning I got a slight delay due to car not starting. At airport the friendly staff only charged USD32 for the departure. Uneventful start and again fantastic tail wind on average 17 knots! Lot of thermal again the last hour – just had to sit there and hang on. Landed at Taranaki airstrip and was met by John and Marna Miers who run a crop dusting firm. Great welcome and a beer in my hand as soon as I got out of aeroplane.
Refuel with mogas, lunch and friendly chat with the family. Two different aeroplanes flew in just because they heard of me! They were all keen on hear about the project and looking at Moth, I am probably the first pilot arriving in a DH60 Moth here since the 1930s.
Here I can easily have stayed another night, but the schedule is starting to get fixed as I am about to get closer to the goal.
Note – I don’t seem to get the wifi nor the 3G to work, so no new pictures today I’m afraid – I will upload as soon as I can.
Tomorrow I will fly to Livingstone and spend two nights there, take off planned for 0800CET.