Newsletter January 2011

SkyAfrica End of Year Newsletter 2010

Jule-time is soon coming to an end, as is the year 2010. Fondly looking back on this year we find that there have been many exciting days and highlights to reflect upon. For South Africa the main highlight was certainly the Football (Soccer) World Cup, which showed off the country’s beauty and impeccable hospitality

Many doubted South Africa’s aptitude at hosting one of the world’s largest sporting events, yet once the tournament started it was clear that the infrastructure was in place and everything ran along smoothly and without too much of a hitch. This isn’t overly surprising, as the companies responsible for building the roads and stadiums are the same ones that built the harbour in Hong Kong and a couple of skyscrapers in Dubai. For interest, one of these companies (Murray & Roberts) was responsible for drilling the pilot hole from which the buried Chilean miners were found and provided with nourishment and human contact.

Approximately 400.000 visitors flocked to South Africa during the world cup and the positive effects are evident. Compared to 2009, tourism revenue increased by 18%, however it would seem that pilots are not really football (soccer) fans, as SkyAfrica’s bookings for the world cup months June and July (generally our peak season) were rather sparse, and our planes were not utilised as much as in 2009.

But we are far from complaining, as the year was still largely successful for us. This is mainly due to our valued clients and pilot friends who regularly come to fly with us, also tenderly known as „the repeat offenders“. We have also seen a consistent flow of enthusiastic tour groups, mainly from Germany and Switzerland, making use of SkyAfrica’s services, which have also contributed largely towards making this an exciting and thriving year. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our guests who have travelled with us throughout the year, and assure you that we will continue to strive towards improving our services and offer you experiences of a lifetime.

2010 saw us organising many wonderful voyages throughout Africa; the highlight of which was the first safari to take us from South Africa all the way up to East Africa. After many years of drought, Zimbabwe is once again capable of providing us pilots with AVGAS, which allowed us to fly via Harare to the Cahora Bassa Dam and then low level along Lake Malawi towards Tanzania. There we discovered the wonders of the Ruaha Game Park, the crater landscape surrounding the Ngorongoro Crater, and enjoyed a hot-air balloon ride over the mystical Serengeti. The German brigade, with Werner and Egolf at the helm, even ventured up as far as the Masaai Mara and Nairobi.

Our final destination was the lovely island of Zanzibar. The low-level flight along the coral banks and mangroves of the eastern coast towards Stonetown was an aviation delight, and after an evening of good food and even better company, Esther and her Swiss crew took charge of the planes and flew our colourful babies back to Jo’burg via beautiful Malawi and Mozambique, whilst our group enjoyed a couple of relaxing days on the beach lining the cyan blue Indian Ocean.

The entire trip was a fantastic experience, and we already have a few enquiries for 2011, so if you are interested please don’t hesitate to call on us.

Bush Pilot News
In November we were proud to hold our 40th SkyAfrica Bush Pilot Course, and are pleased to see that our KUNKURU EAGLES Club member numbers have risen to well over 400. The aim of the course is to teach pilots how to fly safely into and out of remote and unfamiliar territories, and many have made use of this opportunity to boost their knowledge and flying skills, as well as having bit of fun at the same time.

We would hereby like to welcome our newest members to the Eagles family:

  • Peter – Globetrotter Eagle
  • Beat – Longfield Eagle
  • Joeri – Inxhele Eagle
  • Klaus – Swimming Eagle
  • Ulrich – Skidding Eagle
  • Joself – Corner Cutting Eagle
  • Enrique – Nunatak Eagle
  • Urs – Parrat Pal Eagle
  • Hubert – Salzburg Eagle
  • Sabrina – Scout Eagle
  • Dietmar – GPS-Less Eagle
  • Martin – Taliban Eagle
  • Hans Christof – Eureka Eagle
  • Oliver – Cool Eagle
  • Rick – Rollercoaster Eagle
  • Hai – Hai in the Sky Eagle
  • Ricardo – Sondo Eagle
  • Peter – Transylvanian Eagle
  • Georg – Out of Orbit Eagle
  • Victor – Hopping Eagle
  • Wytze – Arusha Eagle
  • Walter – Bulamatari Eagle

African Sky Cruises – Your Flying Limousine
Our licensed charter company operation, African Sky Cruises, is also able to look back on several memorable flying safaris throughout Botswana, Namibia, and the Victoria Falls. In part these safaris were organised in cooperation with the German travel agency DERTOUR, based in Frankfurt. What makes African Sky Cruises unique is that our pilot and airplane stay with the guests throughout the safari, which allows for a more flexible travel experience as guests have their „flying limousine“ and pilot/SkyGuide continuously at hand. The safari leads you from one destination to the next via pre-planned scenic routes, allowing you to view Africa from one of the world’s more beautiful platforms. No more dragging suitcases to and fro, no more airport check-in hassles, no more delays – just worry-free holiday time: http://skyafrica.com/safari_africa.html

We are also looking forward to our collaboration with Andrea from APOSA Tours in Munich. She specialises in providing trips to southern Africa and the Seychelles for aficionados, families, groups and the average human infected with a bit of the Africa-bug. Feel free to check out her website (in German): www.aposatours.de

Workshop
On the whole we had no noteworthy mechanical problems to deal with this year. One of the reasons for this positive occurrence is that we run our own workshop and can thus nip any issue that raises its head in the bud before it becomes a problem. We have routine 50 and 100-hour checks on all of our aircraft, which are swiftly and efficiently done. Two cylinders and a few V-belts and batteries (switch off the master please) had to be replaced, one bent flap (remember the white line on the ASI) and a flat front tyre is basically all we had to contend with, so neither our workshop nor our insurance company had to take too much punishment.

Monty and Wilson have become an inherent part of our team, and together with Glen will continue to successfully run and expand the workshop. Our new spare parts depot should ensure that the most commonly needed parts are readily available and minimise the downtime of our airplanes. From January onwards we will also selectively be providing aircraft maintenance to non-SkyAfrica aircraft.

Safety
Glen, a qualified test pilot, had a bit of a scare during a test flight using MOGAS in one of the Cessnas when the engine died and he had to land FIF in a field not far from the airfield. His biggest challenge was not making the field, but dodging the large termite hills once on the ground, which he thankfully managed the do rather well. Not man nor plane suffered but a scratch. Reason for engine failure: probably formation of bubbles due to altitude.

Thanks to a 350m long and mostly straight stretch of farm road, a rigorous inspection of the plane and a refill with pristine AVGAS, FIF was safely back in the air and returned to Brakpan after about 2 hours at the field. Moral of the story: MOGAS does not equal MOGAS. We now only use Shell V-Power in order to prevent further problems of this nature.

Flight School / Validations
Every year we complete over 50 foreign licence validations, more than any other flight school in SA, and have got the process down to an art. With a bit of preparation the process can be completed in half a day. Spread the word!

Miscellaneous Fun
2010 also saw the birth of the new Albatross-Formation team. It is quite a challenge to accurately fly these approximately 4 tons of airplane in a tight formation with only about 2 meters of space between us. 12 minutes of extreme concentration is the length of our show, but I can only say that it is the most amazing fun, and I have learnt a lot about flying, and also about myself.

Paul and Barbara have taken the plunge and bought shares in a Yak 52. This will certainly be a nice way to de-stress after a long flight in their 747 cockpits. Safe flying and lots of fun to you both.

Congratulations!

  • Glen on obtaining his ATPL
  • Tony on becoming a Grade II Instructor und Examiner
  • Erika on completing her Masters Degree in Business Economics

What will the New Year bring
Safaris to Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique are certainly on the cards again, and tend to be the most requested destinations by our clients who are inspired by the articles they read in travel and aviation magazines. Whilst the love of these destinations is certainly justified, we feel that South Africa itself is often wrongfully written off as a less adventurous and exciting destination. Usually travel agencies offer the standard destination programmes consisting of Sun City, the Kruger National Park, the Garden Route and Cape Town – that’s about it. We want to change that.

South Africa has:
1. everything to offer in terms of fauna and flora:

  • national parks such as the Kruger, Madikwe, Hluhluwe, Umfolozi,
  • river- and lakelands such as the Limpopo, Vaal, Oranje, Tugela, Jozini, St. Lucia
  • bushveld and deserts: Karoo, Kalahari, Namaqualand, Namib
  • mountain landscapes: Waterberg, Malotis, Drakensberg, Cedarberg
  • the meeting place of the mighty Atlantic and Indian Ocean creating contrasting landscapes on the west and east coast of SA due to the icy Benguela and the warm, south-flowing Agulhas current
  • cultural and historical points of interest: Zululand, Swaziland, the mountain tribes of Lesotho
  • cultivated landscapes, beautiful wine regions, historical gold mines

2. the best and most reliable flying weather
3. the best infrastructure
4. no problems with AVGAS
5. affordable accommodation and so much more

Some have called it „the world in one country“ and it is exactly this amazing world that we want our pilot friends and clients to discover. South Africa boasts the most fabulous and upmarket accommodation at affordable prices. A lodge in the Serengeti of Tanzania can put you back 800-1000 US Dollars a night per person, whereas you can experience a safari of the same magnitude and beauty for half the price in South Africa.

And this is why we are in the process of putting together new and exciting safari routes within South Africa’s borders, which will highlight the beauty of this country by combining must-see destinations with off-the-beaten track and far-away-from-hoards-of-tourists destinations – all at affordable prices. Stay tuned for more!

From the whole team at SkyAfrica we wish you a very happy New Year, good health, much happiness and safe skies!