26 September 2010

AAD 2010

Two days of jets, choppers, transport aircraft, tanks, trucks, wind, and loads of sun.

I was going to have a massive write-up of the event, but I'm still trying to recover from exhaustion and my sunburn. And I don't really have much to write about.

I got quite trigger happy (the only disadvantage of having a good camera is that 'continuous shot' function; click click click click click click click), and clearly I still have a lot to learn about the new camera - most of my photos were either far too dark, or extremely blurry. But, practice makes perfect.

I found some of the displays boring, and I was quite disappointed when a lot of the American stuff didn't fly. I was really looking forward to seeing the C-5 Galaxy, and the Sea Stallion.

The C-27J display made everything worth it though. The pilots of that aircraft really know how to fly it, and their display was absolutely amazing! Who would've thought that a transport aircraft could do those things (rolls, knife edge, and all sorts of other amazing manoeuvres)?!

I felt a bit uneasy when the Americans did their simulation of an F-16 pilot that had ejected; seeing that black cloud of smoke simulating the F-16's impact into the ground looked a lot like the cloud of smoke that appeared when the Lightning crashed at TFDC last year.

Now, time for me to rest and to sort through my photos.

23 September 2010

My First Helicopter Flight

Tuesday, 21 September

My day kicked off with a flight in a Cessna Citation CJ4. It’s the first one in South Africa. Saying that it’s luxurious doesn’t quite tell the reader how fancy it is. I don’t have any photos of the inside of it, so a quick description will suffice.

You can have 8 pax. Two sit sideways, facing the door, two sit facing backwards, and four sit facing forwards. There are three mini TV screens, so you can watch movies, listen to music, or open up a really cool map that shows you where you are.

The seats are comfortable and the isle is lower than the seats, so one doesn’t have to hunch over when they’re out of their seat. And it has a toilet. A real one. This is important ;)

The other funky thing about this aircraft is that it goes high and fast. How does mach 0.7 at 40 000ft sound? Mmm, yes.

The acceleration is phenomenal, and on take-off, I was thrown forward in my seat (I was facing backwards). Even after take-off, you could feel the acceleration forcing you out of (in my case) or into your seat, and they actually had to come back on the power a bit.

The flight itself wasn’t all that interesting. The CJ4 is the jet to have if you want to travel in style.

My luck keeps getting better and better…

Shortly after we had landed, I found out that I was going on a helicopter flight. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years, but I always missed out on the opportunity.

Imagine my joy when I saw I would be flying in the Eurocopter EC145. This toy is huge; it can carry 8 pax, and there’s loads of space (it can be used as a rescue helicopter and all sorts of things). The price tag is also quite huge: 7 million Euros. I’ll take two.

I was excited; who gets to say that their first helicopter flight was in an EC145?! I would’ve been more excited if I could’ve flown it a bit, but beggars can’t be choosers.

As we took off, there was a huge grin on my face. The sensation of going up, backwards and to the side all at the same time was quite something. But once we had climbed away, the excitement vanished; it felt like a regular aircraft.

The thing is a computer; it practically flies itself. You don’t have to touch the anti-torque pedals, and when hovering you can take your hand off the cyclic and the heli won’t budge.

The only thing I liked apart from the take-off was the sense of freedom; we thought there was a whale, so the pilot simply did a 180 degree turn, descended to a couple of hundred feet above the sea, and slowed right down. Not really something I’d try in a Cessna 152. (The whale turned out to be a whole lot of seaweed).

Even the hovering wasn’t all that spectacular. Neither was the landing (well done to the pilot for battling with the strong wind).

Maybe if I get to fly a helicopter, hover, fly backwards, and do all of that other cool stuff, I’ll enjoy it more. But that flight was really a disappointment.

18 September 2010


... doesn't even begin to cover it!

Four words: Africa Aerospace and Defence.
YES! I've been looking forward to this event for the whole year, and now it's (finally) just a few days away.

The first few photos have been coming in, and things are looking absolutely A.W.E.S.O.M.E! There's going to be loads of USAF aircraft participation, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the massive CH-53 Sea Stallion.

What's better than being able to attend this show? Having a media pass. Oh yes. After weeks of procrastination, I decided to apply for media accreditation... the day before the cut-off date. And, my application was successful, surprisingly enough.

Next week is going to be incredibly busy, but I'm looking forward to it. As this is the last year AAD is going to be held at Ysterplaat, I'm sure they're going to make sure it's one of the best.

Monday must arrive now!!!

13 September 2010

Lucky Fish!

11 September

Another boring Saturday, spent sitting at work attempting to study, right? Well, yes and no. I did sit at work (yawn), and I did attempt to study (double yawn), but once work finished, things got a whole lot more exciting!

Today the de Havilland Centenary Celebration was held at Stellenbosch Flying Club. Raffle tickets were being sold, and everyone who bought tickets stood a chance of flying in a Tiger Moth or Chipmunk.


After work, I was ordering lunch when I was asked if I'd like to go for a flight in a Super Cub. Is that a trick question?! 30 minutes later found me strapping myself into the front seat of the great white beast. We flew to Strand, then back to Stellenbosch via the Helderberg gap. Once at Stellenbosch we did 3 circuits. It was on downwind of the first circuit that both pilot and I realised he had forgotten to show me where the flap selector is. Hee hee, it's little things like that that make flying fun.

The circuits went alright, but it was definately a different experience for me. The Super Cub has loads of power, and I found the controls to be extremely heavy. If I'm honest, I much preferred flying the Tiger. But it was still an awesome flight and I thoroughly enjoyed the new experience.

The Raffle took place just before 5pm, and guess who's ticket was the first to be drawn... Yup! I won a flight in a Tiger Moth. So I found myself being strapped into a taildragger for the second time that day. The fligt took us anti-clockwise around the Helderberg Mountain, then back to Stellenbosch. Short and sweet.

I had barely unstrapped myself from the Tiger when I was asked if I'd like to fly in a Citabria and take some air-to-air photos of the other aircraft. Of course I was up for a flight, and I rushed off to find my camera.


And so I found myself being strapped into a taildragger for the third time that day. It's got quite a large cockpit, and it's incredibly comfortable. After take-off we headed south to Somerset West and puttered around while waiting for the Tiger's to come along. I felt like police chopper pilots must feel; circling overhead the houses. It was actually quite cool. And it was also great not having to do any work; I just sat back, relaxed, and watched the world go by.

After a bit of waiting and a few steep turns, Tiger Moth ZS-PCW came along, and we flew alongside her for a couple of minutes while I took photo after photo. Tiger Moth ZS-DNR then came along and we flew in formation once again while the camera fired away. I'm a bit trigger-happy.



Unfortunately we didn't manage to fly in formation with the Chipmunk and the other Tiger Moth. But the flight was spectacular, and I've decided I quite like this whole air-to-air photography thing!

It had been a beautiful day so far with clear skies and little to no wind. What better way to end a great day than with a flight in the Cubby as the sun starts to set? And so I found myself sitting in the FOURTH taildragger that day! This time with my old instructor sitting in front of me (the poor guy hasn't flown the Cubby in ages).

After 3 circuits and 3 somewhat dodgey landings (two of which were mine. Whoops), I was on the ground once again. This time I'd be staying there. After tucking the plane in for the night, I realised for the first time just how tired I was! Which is no surprise, really.

I consider myself extremely lucky to be given the opportunity to fly in 4 different taildraggers in the space of about 3 hours (and I can log three of the flights!). A big thank you to the pilots, and everyone else that made the day so awesome!

de Havilland aircraft flying that day:
Tiger Moth's:


Aircraft flown in:
Super Cub
Tiger Moth ZS-DNP
Citabria ZS-FKL
Cubby ZU-DVR


04 September 2010

Nice surprise

I was sitting at the airfield, bored out of my braincell, and feeling rather 'pap' when I overhead someone saying "The helicopter has arrived." Helicopter? What helicopter?! I didn't hear anything! I immediately jumped up, grabbed my camera, and went outside. I was expecting to see some smallish private helicopter. But that's not what I got!

An Orxy was merrily taxi'ing towards the fuel bay. I'd gone from feeling blah and pap, to lively and bouncy in about a split second, and I immediately started snapping away. (I think my new name should be "Trigger Happy")

After they shut down and their pax had gone on their merry way, I took a closer look at the beast. She's massive! It was a cool feeling standing next to this great machine. Click, click, click goes the shutter. I think I have at least one photo of her from almost every angle.

The co-pilot was also kind enough to let me take a look inside. He was quite surprised when I said I've only ever been in two helicopters. I think amused him with my mutterings of "Wow, this is so cool!" and "This is amazing. Beautiful!" So I consider myself kind of lucky to have been able to get up close and personal to an Oryx.

Oh yes, I only flew 3 times in August, so I'm not going to bother posting a flying summary. Yesterday I hit the 80hr mark though :)