Saturday, December 12, 2009
African Bush Flying Course
CHECK OUT THE VIDEO PREVIEW:
I received an email from a guy named Eric asking if I'd like to travel to Africa with him and his crew to be a student in CC Pocock's BUSH AIR flying course....what a dream come true! The reason that I became involved in aviation was because I always hoped to become a bush pilot one day...this was my first opportunity to chase that dream since I became involved in Aviation! I used to train with Rolf Engelhard in Prescott, AZ training to land in the desert and fly in the mountains...now I could take that dream to the next level!
My trip to Africa started out with meeting Eric and Dennis, the camera men who invited me take part in creating a television show on a bush pilot named CC Pocock. CC spends his days teaching pilots how to fly in the lower (slow) edge of their aircraft's envelope and teaching them how to land and take off from seemingly impossible landing areas in the wild African bush! CC is also involved in a vehicle hijacking and theft program where he chases down stolen cars from the air!
Upon arrival in Johannesburg we drove late into the night to make our way to CC's home...needless to say, driving at night through South Africa may have been the most exciting portion of our trek! There are plenty of cars with no headlights or tail lights driving along un-marked roads with no street lights or reflectors! There was a stunning lightning storm going into the night creating an absolutely amazing light show in the distant African sky!
At CC's home we drove up his dirt driveway that we were lucky to get down without a 4WD!! We saw several monkeys running playfully in front of us and looking curiously at the 4 strangers driving along "their" road. Along one side of us there was a jungle of beautiful trees and bushes filled with colorful birds and wild animals...along our other side was a tall electric fence built by CC to keep wild animals and un-expected guests off of the runway. The gates were open for us (don't worry, we locked them behind us) and we were greeted by CC in his pj's on the front porch.
CC's home is amazing...it is the pilot's ultimate dream! Located in the Barberton Vally of South Africa, surrounded by beautiful mountains and not far from the famous Kruger National Park (Game Range) CC built his home with a wrap around deck, hot tub looking out on his creek that he dammed up for water and bar/kitchen filled with old African artifacts. The bedrooms are overlooking his hangar and airplane which then looks out to his private grass strip airfield...everything that a pilot could ever dream! CC built 2 extra bed rooms and a bathroom before our arrival so that we would have a place to stay...now that is SERIOUSLY good customer service! Oh, and did I mention what an amazing cook CC is??? He love's to BBQ! Look at that fire :)
Flying with CC in South Africa was a great experience! We flew through the mountains surrounding the Barberton Valley in South Africa and landed in remote mountain strips and dirt roads in the African bush. Our first mountain landing brought some real excitement when a thunderstorm came in from behind the hills on a one way in, one way out landing and changed our wind direction. We took off and used everything we could to climb out and get home quickly and safely. CC's aircraft that we flew in is appropriately named "Bush Air 1" and is a heavily modified Cessna 172 (go figure!)
At one point during the trip we did a re-enactment of a car hijacking in which CC chased down the car head on with his Cessna while a helicopter helped to round them up. The guys in the car had guns shooting at CC from the ground!! The re-enactment was a lot of fun, we chased down the cars with the planes and in the process accidentally scared a few actual thieves out of the bush who were steeling copper wire! I guess that the cars with guns and sirens and helicopters over head made them think the were getting busted!
I also got to go for a sky dive out of CC's Bush Air 1 and check out a crocadile farm!! Each morning I went for a run up and down the runway (that is unless we were starting flying at 4am) and found a scorpion!!
All in all it was an extremely fun experience and it was good to know that the skills that we were practicing could be put to use in an emergency situation where everyone (including the airplane) could go home safely at the end of the day...just a little sun burned! I highly suggest CC's Bush Air school in South Africa to anyone interested in either Bush Flying or advancing your skills to become a safer and more competent pilot in the face of emergency situations. Not to mention we made a bunch of great new friends!!
When Denis and Eric put together the show on our trip I will try to post it so that everyone can see video of our great adventure!!
CYA next time,
Scroll down to see more scenic shots of the crocodile canyon, elephants from above and more pics from Africa!!
P.S. You will have to ask CC what his nick name stands for if you want to know!
LOOK CLOSE FOR THE ELEPHANTS IN THE LAST ONE!!