CIRCUMNAVIGATING SOUTH AFRICA BY MICROLIGHT
Day by Day


 








Click on an area to go to that log entry.

Springs to Sodwana via Secunda, where we were treated with coffee from Rian. Then onto Volksrust for refuelling, wind strong and interesting landings. Locals considered us crazy to fly on over the mountains, however all went well at 9500 feet. Still windy and bumpy but views spectacular. Terrain hostile. Regrettably could not land at Paulpetersburg, got blown over. Then onto Pongola where we joined over head at 5500 and took us half an hour to get down. Temp 42 degrees on runway. Thanks to Willem for the cokes and then onto Sodwana via Josini dam, which looked spectacular. Just nowhere to land , only a few house boats for water recovery. Very rough conditions on way to coast at approx 1pm. Lots of hot and cold air pockets. Attempted landing at Sodwana after Duanes interesting precautionary landing where he scared the locals cutting the grass but provided some good intertainment and then onto Mbazwane where we derigged trikes wings and took refuge thanks to Stewart from Coral divers just in time to avoid a massive downpour and storm.

Duane, Dave, Marius, Nico,
(Front) Joe & Daniel
Secunda Area
Being blown southwards over Paulpietersburg at 9500 feet with a ground speed of 81 KTS/h


Sodwana to Empangeni. Glad to find trikes intact, rigged up and departed at 10am and routed for Empangei along the coast line. Again hostile terriority but views of lake St Lucia on our right and ocean on our left were magnificent. From St Lucia routing in land to Empangeni over cooking forests and no landing areas and regular engine misses from Daves Rotax. We contacted Richards Bay ATC where they instructed us to fly below 1000 at 1005 QNH (yeah right!) Landed Empangeni and met up with Melvin Luff and Dirk (local instructor). We had planned to camp on the strip however advised against it due to numerious mambas and hostile locals. Thanks to Dirk and Annebell for taking us into their home and providing 5 star hospitality. Also thanks to Melvin, Poens and Donnovan and all the others for the improvised repairs to Daves trike.

Just prior to reaching Pongola Approaching Josim dam and the flat lands prior to the coast
  De-rigging the plane due to a huge thunderstorm approaching


Empangeni to Emoyeni via Lamercy
Slight head wind, low flying over beach to avoid head wind. Daves plane seems ok apart from accelerator jmming.Slight rain storm off ballito. Landed La Mercy and visited wreck of fatal microlight accident the previous day. Not good to see. Routing to Cato ridge. Team became seperated. Dave landing at Cato (plane starting to miss fire). Others landed at Emoyeni. John Young and Arthur present at Cato with coffee and eats. Much appreciated. Met up with Andrew, Jamie and Dereck. Pilots from Kimberly area who ran into bad weather and where unable to join us at Springs.

Routing south from Sodwana with Lake St Lucia just visible on the right.  


Emoyeni to Margate. (South Coast)
Head wind. Dave flying high due to bad backfiring of trike. V cold and
fairly bumpy. Crossing Umkomaas valley Daves plane gives up ghost while pieces of air filter blows out of carb and emergency landing in moon country. Duane and Nico land prior to check out conditions. Small road, strong cross wind, wind gradient, thermic and locals on road. Others continued to coast and Dave hitched ride with locals to find recovery vehicle. Trike left at Margate airport and Dave continues 2 up with Joe.

Duane flying and looking cool again
Natal South Coast - Margate area
Dave and his plane just after his emergency landing
Port Grovener on the Wild Coast
 
Apparently large amounts of gold are still buried on this wreck lying just off shore.  


Margate to Coffee bay.
Magnificent scenery, big cliffs (little emergency landing areas). Beach
landing at Coffee bay. Nico returns homw with family.

Nico landing at Coffee Bay - Wildcoast
A few more abandoned wrecks
More wrecks
More hostile areas with little landing areas.
One of the many wrecks found along the Wild Coast.


Coffee Bay to Trenneries.
Back up vehicle has decided he has had enough and goes home. Everything now carried on trikes and inside wings. Lots os sharks visible at river mouth. Contact made with 2 jet skiers on way from northers Kenya to Cape Town. Trenneries hotel V kind to provide reduced rates and great pub. Robert Gassman also present.

Trenneries
43rd Air School. Jamie taking a bath
Jet Skiers at Trenneries


Trenneries to Port Alfred. (43rd air school) & onto Grahamstown.
Head wind, bumpy and thermic. Leave later in day for air show in Grahams tow. 15 min out wing looked distorted and possible breakage of battens and returned to Port Alfred. Bit tense however no problem was found. Weather 42 deg C. Larry & Dave joins trip.

On route from Grahamstown to Cape St Francis
Duane again
 
Dave Beard joins us to Cape Town
 
East London Beach


Grahamstown to St Francis bay over Jefferies bay.
Wind picking up, low cloud and thunderstorms in distance. Arrive as
darkness sets in. Great to have Larry and Patrick who familiar with
area. Low flying through mountain pass with cloud on the deck then
passing Van Stardens bridge. Some trikes in the cloud others on the
deck. Bit tense. Camping at airfield. Baught av gass from pilot met in
pub that evening.

 
Larry also joining us from Grahamstown to Cape Town. Thanks for all the radio calls and routing info and directions.
Uitenhage routing Cape St Francis and heading into weather
 


St Francis to Plettenberg bay. (Stanley island)
Head wind. G/s 24-35 MPH. Hostile terriority. NO landing areas. Big
forests over Titsikamer to edge of cliffs and shear drops into sea. Bit
worrying again. Glad my trike went down where it did. Coffee with Doug at Knysna with landing area on top off cliffs. Lots of valleys entering sea. Weather cold and gale force winds in Cape Town. Fuel situation becoming grave.

On route to Plettenberg Bay and Stanley Island
 
Beautiful scenery but totally unaccommodating for engine outs.


Stanley Island to Andrews field (Struis baai) Via Mossel bay.
Good tail wind. 8 KTS forward speed. ----missile testing area. Coastal terrain becoming barren.

Above the Clouds
Over military area
Larry below, near Seal Island - Mossel Bay
Dave after landing in 35KT/H wind at Straaisbaai


Andrews field to Versantekraal.
Lots cloud around. Few members became disoriented above the clouds and headed straight out to sea towards Antarctica. Passing the most southerly point of South Africa. Larry left us and headed for home. Passing area we dropped under cloud which was 30-50 above the coast. Hermanus area v scenic, good look out for emergency landing areas. Passing the cliffs leading into Gordons bay, V bumpy and slow going due to windy conditions. Poor outlanding areas, one road cut into the cliff face.

Early morning routing for the most southern point of Africa
 
Derek and Andrew Approaching the big cliffs of Cape Town and the howling, turbulent wind leading into Gordon's Bay and then Venterskraal Airfield.
Dave Beard and son against a big wall
Table Mountain
Leeching of colours at an estuary near Saldanha
Table Mountain routing Saldanha

 


Versantekraal to Lambetts bay Via Saldanha bay.
Landing on road outside sea food restaurant where we stayed over. Lots of dolphins, low flying 0-5 m off sand. Cold air from Atlantic.
Help from Rian to obtain fuel from town. V hungry again!

Wreck just after take-off from Straaisbaai. We say goodbye to Larry who routed back to Grahamstown
Microlight silohette and rainbow in the clouds Stilbaai - home of the great white shark
Saldanha on the way up the West Coast towards Lambert's Bay
Our accommodation and supper at a seaside seafood restuarant in Lambert's Bay.
Front-end grader working in the sea just off the West Coast. Imagine the profit margins from diamonds Vs rust to justify this.
 
Duane, Andrew,Derek, Jamie, Dave and Joe in the front - Lambert's Bay.
Fishing boats in one of the small harbours.  
Barren, dry land of the West Coast of South Africa
Diamond mining of various kinds just north of Lambert's Bay
   
Diamond diving vehicles in Hondeklipbaai
Diamond diving recovery vehicle standing dormant due to on-going politics and litigation.
Mining again
West Coast scenes
 
A one-legged seagull

 


Lambetts bay to Honderklipbaai.
Remote area again, few campers possible illegal diamond prospectors. One mining road along the coast. Lots diamond mining. Many hot and cold air pockets, fairly bumpy big inversion- extremely hot & uncomfortable higher up. Slow going slight head wind, easier going higher up. Land in one of main roads between electricity wires and taxi to fuel pump only to find it was last used two years ago. Nearest fuel 100km's away. Clark Van Wyk came to rescue and drove to obtain fuel. Drank town dry of beers. Lots of diamond divers and boats. Town consisted of 14 permanent residents and lots of contract workers.

Our landing area outside the post office only to find the closest fuel to be 100km away.
Andrew and our host in Hondeklipbaai
Preparing to leave Hondeklipbaai for the journey into the interior and through 2500 feet of fog and cloud
 
Dave - cold and hungry again.
Routing Lambert's Bay - Jamie
After exiting the clouds at 2800 feet we followed the GPS heading for 30 minutes before seeing any signs of land.

 

Hondeklipbaai to Springbok & on to Poffader.
Fog and mist on the ground. Joe airborne to determine height of fog bank. Trikes leave at staggered intervals to avoid confusion in white out. 2-3 minutes of flying in white out to top out at 2700 feet. Engine out and disorientation bit concerning considering fog down to ground and sea level in certain areas. 30 min flight on GPS heading untill land visible again. Wild & remote territorty again. Arriving Springbok extremely hot and windy. Met up with Masserati promotional team and helped with photo shoot. Leaving Poffader difficult obtaining lift. Had to resort to ridge lift on windward side of koppies. Help from locals in Poffader in obtaining fuel.

Flat lands while routing towards Pofadder
Early morning take-off from Pofadder, routing towards Augrabies Water Fall onto Upington.
 
Fairly inhospitible areas again.  
Hostile areas between Hondeklipbaai on the West Coast and the small town of Springbok.
Springbok and accommodating the Maserati Team for a promotional shoot  

 

Poffader to Upington Via Augrabies falls.
Say good by to Jamie, Andrew and Dereck who flew back to Kimberly area. Spent day at falls and courtesy car from Piet du Plessis.
Flight to Upington bumpy and battling for lift. Resort to prevailing
thermalls and ridge lift where available.

More flat lands between Augrabies and Upington . Extremely thermic and rough.
Being directed into Upington Airport by controller. Not that we had any idea of his orange battens anyway.
On route from Upington to Kuruman  
Augrabies Falls
Augrabies Falls
Blasting ar Sishion required us to skirt to the left and then to Kuruman.

Upington to Kuraman Via Oliviershoek to transfer fuel.
Oliviershoek situated in valley, problem airborne again and ridge soaring again. Onto Kuraman at midday with wild conditions and 5-8 m/s thermalls, passing to the left of Sishion to avoid blasting. Met up with an old paragliding mate Gert Venter who runs paragliding tours for world record attempts. Afternoon spent at Red Sands resort drinking beers with the early participants of the desert run to Swakopmund. Sanity prevailed and we retired to Gerts restaurant for a great meal.

Kuraman to Bloemhoff Via Hartswater.
Leaving Kuraman to avoid head wind, however had to climb to 5000+ to obtain slight tail wind. Harts water is well known to aviation enthusiasts for its large cloud build up and many cesna pilots have had their noses trimmed down with full power and still happend to ascend. Lost Duane who landed to transfer fuel and realised his radio was broken and had no GPS co-ordinates to Bloemhoff. Also realised the runway was a bit small to re launch from so with the help from the farmer had to be lengthened. Duane redirected by cell phone and co- ordinates obtained. Also found only one magneto on plane working. Amaizing help from a local farmer and diamond prospector Hercules who arrived at the field and drove us around. Big party in Bloemhoff.

Joe, Dave, Gert and son in Kuruman
Between Kuruman and Bloemhoff, Hartswater where even the Cessna pilots fly with care. Last year a rather worried fixed-wing pilot came over the radio complaining he had full power, nose down and yet was still getting sucked up into a cloud.

Here massive cloud build-up is due to abundance of water and fertile lands.

 

Bloemhoff to Viljoenskraal Via Boeteville.
Really turbulent and howling wind. Still battling for lift and a few tense moments where under full power we still were descending only metres from the mealies. Take off in strong conditions and onto Christo Voyer's farm for breakfast and re fuel. Big rotor, wind gradient and strong conditions resulted in one trike meeting the earth harder than expected. Weather conditions were now deteriorating rapidly and with 180 km's to go, three weeks of flying and two trikes not 100% we requested transport home after a 4320km journey.

Joe and Hercules a local farmer and diamond prospector who helped who helped us incredibly in in Bloemhof with transport and advice.
First signs of the Vaal River on
route back to Springs

Dave, Duane and Joe at the end of the trip, 180 kms from home after covering 4320 kms. Bad weather and trike damage was the deciding factor.
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