JAN 26 – 08 MARCH 2014

Back to Europe

But only for a few days. We left Fés in Morocco yesterday around 1100 in the morning, bound for Tenerife-Norte (Los Rodeos) where we would have to pass immigration back into Spain. It was a long flight over the Atlantic ocean, and it took several hours before we first saw land again (Lanzarote).

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We arrived at Tenerife at around 16.00 local time, knowing we had to leave for El Hierro as fast as we could, as the airport of El Hierro would close at 18.00.

But Murphy’s law started to wag its tail. The first delay happened because of a royal visit – the son of the King of Spain came in with his Dassault Falcon, and that grounded us for a significant amount of time. Then, when we were allowed to leave for El Hierro, the cloud ceiling had dropped to below 500 feet. Because of that, ATC no longer allowed us to depart under VFR.

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Our OPS-team back in the Netherlands quickly came in to help and prepared an IFR-flightplan which was approved and active within minutes, so off we went. We tried to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Canary Islands during the sunset, while we flew to El Hierro as fast as our Piper would allow us to. We touched down at El Hierro at 17.58, just minutes before closing.

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Now came the driving part, and that would prove to be more tricky than flying. We had to drive to our hotel, but because of the recent volcanic activity on the island many main roads were closed. We had to drive during the night, over small and curved mountain roads. Visibility gradually dropped to 50 meters or less. It took us two hours, before we arrived at the hotel.

Today we relaxed at our hotel, enjoyed the mild temperatures of 20+ Celcius and had some fantastic scubadiving experiences. We will upload some videos as soon as we can. So stay tuned!

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Tomorrow we will head for Africa again: Atar, Mauritania. We’ll be doing some trainspotting there!

The Fés Medina

We wanted to share some more information on our short stay in Fés, Morocco a few days ago. We visited the old Medina, the town center dating back to before medieval times. It is said not having changed a lot since then. At night, going in without a guide will get you lost within minutes because of the incredible darkness.

With daylight however, it is not much better. The system of small streets, lanes and alleys is insanely complicated, even for those with an extremely accurate sense of direction. So we took a guide, who led us through this fascinating first part of Africa!

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We found a great, short youtube video for you about this fascinating city here!

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Categories: Flying in Africa

First arrival in Africa

Yesterday we left Valencia for Fés in Morocco around 10AM in the morning. Our initial plan was to fly via Gibraltar. However headwinds made us change our minds, and we flew south, along the Spanish coast. We crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Almeriá straight to Morocco, flying at 1000 feet altitude. The sea was quite crowded with ships heading to or from the funnel that is Gibraltar. A spectacular sight!

We crossed the Moroccan coastline somewhere west of Nador, from where we overflew the spectacular Atlas mountain range. We arrived in Fés at about 16.00 hours, where we were welcomed graciously by a very kind customs official. We spend our evening enjoying everything the old Medina of this historic city has to offer with its food, culture and hospitality.

Today we will leave Africa again for a short while, flying from Fés to El Hierro via Tenerifé. We really look forward to do some scuba diving there!

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Categories: Flying in Africa

Day 1: Valencia!

Today we departed for our ambitious journey from Teuge in the Netherlands. Families and friends had come out of their beds very early on this cold and wet sunday morning, to wave us goodbye.

We left EHTE around 0900 local time in the morning, flying to Béziers at the French Côte d’Azur. We left Béziers only an hour after arriving, to continue on our last leg of this long flying day: Valencia!

We arrived in Valencia shortly after 19.00 in the evening, and witnessed a spectacular sunset during our arrival. For now, it’s off to bed early to prepare for tomorrow, when we start the next part of our next journey, flying to the Canary Islands via Gibraltar and Morocco! (You can follow our progress live here!)

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Aircraft arrived at Teuge

Today we flew our aircraft to our point of departure Teuge, where we will further prepare it for the departure coming sunday. Some proper maintenance was done in preparation of the 130 flying hours it will do in the next six weeks! We will continue tomorrow starting to pack the airplane and install some additional navigation and satellite communication equipment. To be continued!

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Stocking up Survival and Satellite Equipment

Between planning our route and arranging the necessary visa we have started putting together a useful survival kit for our trip. What you see is just the beginning, as we will need to prepare for the worst as we will be flying across the dark African continent from North to South. We will cross both the Gulf of Guinea, fly over the rain forests of Gabon and Congo and cross the Saharan desert. These areas bring their specific needs for lifesaving equipment.

Sjoerd Jan with survival equipment

The Thuraya satellite network allows us to stay in touch with the homefront and our AeroPlus Flight Operations Centre (FOC) in The Netherlands. The satellite link allows us as well  to check for bad weather while enroute or even make phone calls while airborne or to connect to the internet.

Thuraya Satsleeve

The Thuraya Satsleeve will be linked to the avionics stack of the aircraft through the Flightcell Pro device. This way, all voice calls can be dealt with through our aviation headsets while staying in touch with air traffic control (ATC) at the same time. We have adjusted our own AeroPlus flightplan and weather apps to support receiving information over the satellite network. We are therefore able to receive significant weather charts, rain radar, flightplan data, the latest METAR, TAF and SIGMET weather data through our satellite link.

Additional fuel tanks will be taken along as well as that we will be having extra fuel on board using a TurtlePac extra fuel tank. This extra fuel tank is linked to the aircraft system and makes it possible for us to cross longer stredges across the desert or across the deep Africal jungle. Some of the airports we will be flying into will be rather remote and with have no supply of the preferred AVGAS fuel for our aircraft. We will then have to rely on fuel from the local gas station and special fuel tanks, fuel filters and fuel testers are taken along. The aircraft is as such capable of flying on autogas, but we have to be sure it is of the right quality and not contaminated with too much ethanol/alcohol or dirt.

Spare fuel tanks

In case we do get stranded we are supplied with a fuel burner (wood burner) that can even charge our satellite equipment or iPhone.

Fuel stove

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