After a full day of rigorous planning I was ready for the trip to Zambia. We switched planes from one of our own to a leased one equipped with tip tanks, V5-MUA. The plane has an estonishing 7 hours 30 fuel endurance so I could have almost made it there and back. On top of that she is one of the fastest C210’s we operate despite te smaller IO-520 (compared to IO-550) engine. It’s strange how one can be almost 20 knots faster than the next, supposedly identical plane.
The weather didn’t look very promising with TSRA predicted almost the entire 4 hours from Windhoek to Livingstone, passing over Kasane to avoid Zimbabwean airspace.
Surely enough the flight started with some minor cumulus over which I easily cruised but when entering Botswana (Botswanian?) airspace the TS soon appeared, of couse right in my path. The first one was easil avoided by going off track about 25 degrees but after the first came another, and another. It appeared to be a squall line that stretched from somewhere around Maun all the way southwest to the Namibian border. I decided to try to get to the north of it, not knowing what was behind. I was forced to descend from FL105 down to about 6000ft turning 90 degrees left descending through some heavy rain but luckely I was not struck by any bad turbulence. To my relief I found myself clear of the squall line and the weather was open the rest of the way.
The last hour I had some time to appreciate the green and wet scenery around me. It’s amazing how an entire country changes from a hot, dusty, dry, desolate place of death to a temperate, lush green garden of eden in a matter of weeks. Shortly after passing Kasane I reached the Island in the Zambezi where 4 countries; Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet. 20 minutes later I was on the ground at a very quiet Livingstone airport. There were 2 Wilderness Air 210’s parked there but we closed operations in Zambia and they are soon to be exported to Botswana.
After paying 50 USD to just stay there the night, I spent 2 hours waiting at the terminal and trying to figure out what had happened to my tranfer. I hoped to visit the Falls while I was there but by the time they showed up it was too late. Guess they have to send me again now
The camp is an amazing place. It’s built on stilts along the shore of the Zambezi river. I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves. That first beer at the bar looking out over the river during sunset with a huge thunderstorm lurking in the distance was a perfect closure of the day.
The next day didn’t look very promising when I woke up to a grey overcast sky and forecasts that were identical to the day before. But anywa, 1000ft is enough to go and after a delay at the guests discretion we were on our way to Maun. The weather had cleared a bit with scattered clouds at a 1000ft but soon the walls of cloud were rising again. This time there was a big storm at Kasane and there seemed to be a line of storms stretching to the west. I wanted to turn southeast (were I needed to go) before the storm that was over Kasane but ATC instructed me to follow the Chobe river, on the other side of the squall, because of traffic. That side didn’t look good at all. I was following the river for about 30NM which is almost 90 degrees off-track and hoping to find an opening in the squall but to no avail. After a while the weather opened up below me and I dropped down to 500ft. I could see a clear horizon so I finally turned back on track and flew like that under the very dark looking clouds above me for about 10 minutes and then I was back in the clear and able to climb to FL085. If only I was able to go south straight away…
Flying at a comfty altitude didn’t last very long though. At about 50NM out traffic departing Maun reported a cloud base of 600 feet in rain and in front of me I saw another huge wall of cloud rising to levels in the 30’s. I dropped down to 6500 feet at first and then down to 4500 and as I got closer to Maun it forced me to 600 ft. Luckily the visibility was suprisingly good desite the rain so I saw the airport well in time and made a normal circuit to land.
After topping up the main tanks we were on our way again after a long delay. The weather still had not improved so I had to fly at about a 1000 feet for a while but then the clouds cleared up nicely and I was able to go up to FL085. But again that didn’t last very long. Around the Namibian border another line of storms was blocking my way so again I descended to stay below the cloud base ad after that I deided to just stay there. As the flight went on the cloud base got higher and higher and by the time I was 100NM out of Windoek I was flying back at FL105. The whole flight I got an average speed of 175 knots!
All in all a very interesting and challenging flight keeping me busy wit fuel, time and PNR calculations. It reminded me of the weather we used to get during flight training in Europe in the winter (then cased by warm fronts) and I really wanted to go IFR at times. If only we were allowed to.
I ended that long day going out with friends but at a certain point just had to go home and sleep as my brain was getting to tired to handle it
|Livingstone 19-20 December 2013
Dit album bevat 17 foto’s en blijft beschikbaar op SkyDrive tot 21/03/2014.
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