And by hump, I mean over the hump of the (peak season) figurative camel’s back. The season has progressed to its busy state, just as the thermostat has risen and the lifeline Luangwa river has narrowed to a shallow stream of luring water. September has been a busy month. I have not logged serious hours, but I have had the joy of cheating gravity a total of 105 times in a short time of 23 days. That’s an average of 4.5 legs per flying day. It sure sounds like a lot, especially when one compares it to a long-haul pilot, but once you become flying fit then it’s not too intense. The most legs I’m allowed to do in one day is 8, which happened a couple of times! I can see the need for a kidney belt if you feel like a madalla (old person in Njanja).
The season is in full swing and the last couple of days has been busy. Ask any pilot and they will always be excited to visit a new airfield. Different scenery, different scenario, new challenges are always welcome. Some of the airfields that I visited in the last couple of days here in eastern Zambia are Mwanya where I am based, Kapamba, Jeki, Mpika, Shiwa Ngandu, Luawata, Mwaleshi, Royal and the international airports Mfuwe and Kenneth Kaunda in Lusaka.
In the bush, there’s a slight catch 22. You have to be slightly fit, to become fit. Not having a flight to do that day I decided it would be good to go for a jog as I haven’t done an exorbitant amount of cardio and the effect of the daily fresh bread’s impact on my waistline was lingering in the back of my mind. I was joined by the director’s daughter who is definitely more fit as she recently completed a three-day MTB race. Out here we also always try to move in groups, so I was glad someone with more experience in this environment could join me. Read more
Every once in while a VIP shows up and this time it was my turn to be the VIP’s personal pilot for the day. It was strange that the company gave me these flights, as they were usually done by the experienced freelance pilots who have thousands of hours flight time over the whole of Namibia in bush planes. Film crew and scouts are notorious for being scared of small aircraft and typically request two experienced pilots on an aircraft for which one pilot is the norm.