We are now in South Africa! We are very happy to be here even though we are not yet in Cape Town! There are still three more days of flying before we can hopefully glimpse the Cape of Good Hope and finish the rally!
Yesterday, we took off from Gaborone only around 2 pm, with the Tiger Moth of Great Britain and the Travelair of Team Canada. All the other planes had already left the capital of Botswana in the morning but since we heard there was a good maintenance facility at the airport, Kiwi wanted to try to get our generator/battery problem fixed. Many people were busy working on our plane. We spent the whole morning in the hangar taking care of the plane…and the guys were really helpful.
I got a bit bored so I decided to clean the aircraft! It was so dirty…and not easy! My back hurt afterwards!
The problem finally seemed to be fixed. When we asked the boss of the maintenance shop how much we owed him, he said nothing. We insisted but he said he helped us with pleasure. The name of his company is Kalahari Air Services. If you ever need help in Gaborone, go there, they are fantastic. Cedric was not sure but we had to hurry up if we wanted to have a chance to reach our final destination of the day before sunset. As we cannot carry any luggage in our tiny bird, we had no stuff with us here, everything had already left with the Antonov for South Africa! So I urged Cedric to leave, really didn’t want to be stuck in Gaborone for the night with not even my toothbrush 😉
A few minutes after takeoff, in formation with the two other biplanes, we crossed the border and entered the airspace of South Africa! The landscape suddenly transformed into something completely different from what we had seen so far! It became much greener and the bush changed into an area dominated by high plains surrounded by several old ridges. This is exactly how we imagined South Africa.
We flew in formation with the British Tiger Moth of John and Norman…
We flew over a huge quarry of diamonds…and the approach towards Lanseria (FALA) was stunning. It looks like Italy or the lake Léman in Switzerland, at least from the sky…
Lanseria is a port of entry, close to Johannesburg, where we had to land to clear customs and get a temporary import certificate for our plane. The authorities of South Africa tend to be suspicious of pilots flying into the country with their own airplane and then selling it in parts without paying any VAT or customs tax. We have to promise that we will not sell it here, in parts, and so the plane is “detained” by the authorities as long as we do not prove that we actually fly out of the country with the plane as it is! The process went quite efficiently and we had a nice ride on the tarmac 😉
After 40 minutes we were airborne again for the shortest flight of the rally, a 15-minute flight to a private lovely airfield located west of Lanseria. The name of this private grass airstrip is Blue Mountain Valley (no ICAO code). We landed there just before sunset. All the other biplanes of the rally were already there. We did a few low passes above the field to greet our hosts!
Today, we enjoyed a day of rest and a private air show organised by the owner of this little airfield. Many pilots with all sorts of different planes (old timers and modern ones) came from all over the country to meet the pilots of the biplanes of the rally. Tonight we will enjoy another BBQ with everyone here and will spend our second night in a small tent, on the grass of the airfield itself. Hopefully with no rain and scaring lightning this time. Our mattress and personal stuff got completely soaked yesterday night…Kiwi did not sleep very well and is having a nap (see the picture below) while our clothes, shoes etc. get dry 😉
This was the view from our tent this morning, set up right in the middle of the runway. Cool, isn’t it? After raining all night, nice clear blue sky, this is South Africa 😉
Finally, we would like to dedicate these two last flights to our friend Manfredo, and co-owner of our Stampe. Thank you Manfredo for your friendship and for giving us your full trust and your support in our adventure.
We will leave very early tomorrow morning for Gariep Dam (FAHV), via Parys (FAPY) and Bloemfontein (FATP). 307 nautical miles in total…