Its been quite busy lately. Flying almost every day except for 2 standby days and 2 off days last week.
We went to Erindi where we booked a self catering chalet for the weekend. Its a very nice place. Brand new and a waterhole with hippos and crocodiles right in front of the patio.
Sitting by the open fire/braaipit with some lekker bacon smouldering and a beer at hand, enjoying the magnificent saturated colours of the sunset with the wife and our sun darting around to the neighbours and back. Perfect.
We did about a 100 k’s of self drive safari but we only saw the usual suspects. No elephant, cats or rhinos. Shame, as they say here.
But nothing can spoil a weekend like that, short as it may be.
Next weekend we are going to Swakop. That should bring back some fond memories. Im also curious to see how it changed in almost 3 years.
Im getting back in the comfort zone of flying a 210 again. Doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, so its time to start making myself go the extra mile and not get complacent.
Learning good habits like using the checklist, using your shoulder strap, filling out the navlog accurately, trend monitoring the engine and fuel, keeping situational awereness, etc etc only comes from doing so. Its all to easy to just sit there, relax and only switch tanks every half hour or so. Its more difficult to sit there and actively do these things on long, yes even boring flights.
But anyway, a sudden aircraft change during the last rotation kept me awake without having to try. The first leg was short and the aircraft got handed to me after it flew earlier, so I didnt do a full preflight.
The next day I did and found contamination in the fuel (but it was gone after the first draining) and less than minimum hydraulic fluid in the reservoir. The nose gear oleo was also leaking and deflated. Furthermore there was a big cut in the nose gear tyre and 2 deep looking impressions in the right main tyre. But nothing serious… There is nothing that can be done at Rhino Camp about it and nothing wrong with the essential systems so I decided to fly over to Swakop to have it looked at.
After taking off direction Swakopmund, I got a bit spooked by the oil temperature and cylinder head temperature reading quite high, almost at the limit. At first I thought they must have been accurate because 2 gauges indicated high so I selected cowl flaps half open and a lower power setting. All that did was get the engine to vibrate quite a bit and the temperatures stayed the same. So back to normal settings.
Then nobody responded to me on the radios. Checked my volumes, squelches, jacks, audio selector and tried the hand mike. All looked good. It must be a limited transmitting range. Oh well, its not like theres much controlled airspace around 🙂 I got in touch with Walvis bay around 60 to 70 NM so I guess thats an acceptable range.
After landing in Swakop and refueling, I taxied over to the maintenance centre to get the engine, nose gear and tyres looked at and he hydraulic fluid refilled. They found nothing wrong with the engine, only the oleo fittings were worn due to sand sticking to the piston and rubbing the rubber seals. Half the oil was missing already. Westair gave the ok to fix the assembly and one hour later the oleo was good as new. The cut in the nose tyre was only as deep as the thread so that was fine.
I took the pax to the airport bar and they got heir drinks while waiting as a courtesy for the delay.
The rest of the trip was quite uneventfull except for the transponder failing on my last flight (or it had been inop the whole time, who knows). I had a few flights where the lugage was pressed up into the rear window and one of the back seats filled with two bags. Luckily they were not too heavy and the pax were also well balanced, some heavy and some tiny. So we were still at or below maximum weight out of 800m long, sloped, high and unprepared airstrips at 30 C. Still an interesting climbout though, through rising valley terrain in turbulent air, following a dirt road just in case.
The life of a bush pilot, I recon!