Fly in South Africa
To fly in South Africa combines the security and services of a first world country with the freedom of movement of a third world country.
With its vast open spaces, you have the choice to fly in monitored airspace, 1500 ft above ground watched over by the designated Flight Information Regions, or stay unmanned on 124,8 (the frequency for most unmanned places, but not all).
Special Rules in the busier centers make traffic flow orderly and safe, and you can explore the beauty of South Africa, from the vast fields of Namaqualand Dasies that explode as an impossibly colourful canvas out of the dry desert in the Western Cape in Spring time, or explore the magnificent mountain secrets around Cape Town, floating freely above the perfectly manicured rows of grape plantations and the Cape Dutch homesteads which always brings me down to earth to sample the cheeses and wines of the region, (remember, 8 hours bottle to throttle!)
Fly in South Africa and explore where the skies stretch into forever: the large and small Karroo, and land to ride an ostrich, or explore a cave. A small hop North East be transported to another time by staying in the Tuishuise in Craddock... colourful houses with creaky wooden floors, decorated with pieces that could be in a museum, and really feel what it felt like to live here 120 years ago.
Or fly in South Africa - North East along the Wild Coast with it's magnificent coastline from smooth white beaches to emerald hills, then a sudden rip out of the topography and a waterfall, majestically cascading down the rock scar, and land at Port St. Johns, with the runway that ends on a cliff face, bumping and splatting unceremoniously over the cowpats after chasing the reluctant bovines off the landing strip with some difficulty. Take a trek into Lesotho on a Basotho pony and sleep in a traditional thatched rondawel.
Soaring over the green sugar cane hills of Kwa Zulu Natal, or landing on a strip as green as the grass on a well kept golf course to experience the Drakensberg, sitting snugly in front of a cracking wood fire at night to keep the chill at bay, and explore the imposing beauty of the Mountain of Spears by foot, horseback, quad, plane or car. You can even climb a frozen waterfall or snow ski when the conditions are right.
Drop off at Rorke's Drift and be transported back to a time when fierce Zulu warriors protected these hills with bone chilling cries and numbers reminiscent of an ant colony. Imagine sitting in a small group of men awaiting this attack, or imagine being a fierce, fit warrior, heart beating, sweat dripping, streaming fearlessly into battle with your brothers, being part of a terror inspiring rumble from the heart of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Fly in South Africa and dance over the vast golden hills of the Golden Gate National Park, whoop over Gods Window, witness the incredible sight of Bourke's Potholes from above. Go trout fishing in the icy streams of Dullstroom.
No matter where you find yourself in the Southern tip of Africa, there will be a little or large jewel of natural bush nearby, a park or private farm where Africa is still wild and nature still has the illusion of freedom. A delicate segment where the animals roam free and man is caged. A little island of raw Earth,reminding us of the way it should be. Be sure to visit, there are places for every budget, but the experience has no price. I cannot explain the feeling of being in the presence of a very large elephant, mock charging your vehicle, or the look in a lion's eye when it catches yours, and you see with your own eyes that his paws are the size of dinner plates, how the sound of his roar at night sends a chill down your spine, and turns your blood cold. It is impossible to describe how the raw brute power in a running herd of 100+ buffalo dictates the beating of your own heart through the pounding vibrations of their hoofs on the dusty earth. Some things must be experienced to be understood.
1000 flights, a heart stopping skip in the hum of the engine aloft, taking off on a very steep grass runway with an 18 knot tail wind, slapping in 20° flap to get airborne, following the curve of the land as the airspeed pics up and gentling her away from the ground with the stall warning squeaking intermittently , or landing a C172 on a 300m uphill strip with a small donga (a rift) in the middle at 4000ft, much as I love it, just about gets the adrenaline pumping to the same degree.
To the skies again and North, North to the High-veld with scrubby trees and long grass perfectly designed to hide a large predator, and then further north, to the land of the Rain Queen where legend has it a virgin is sacrificed at the sacred lake every year, and the giant upside down trees dominate the landscape.
South Africa is a land of diversity and surprises, beauty and hardship, and lots and lots and lots of beckoning airstrips!
You up for a flight?
Reach for the Sky(a poem by M J Mac Donald)
"Because I fly
I laugh more than other men;
I look up and see more than they;
I know how the clouds feel,
What its like to have the blue in my lap,
To look down on birds,
To feel freedom in a thing called the stick.
Who but I can slice between God's billowed legs,
And feel them laugh and crash with his step?
Who else has seen the unclimbed peaks?
The rainbow's secret?
The real reason birds sing?
Because I fly,
I envy no man on earth."
What is it like to fly in South Africa? In one word: AWESOME!
If you plan to fly in South Africa, I strongly recommend you buy or borrow a copy of the "Airfields Directory for Southern Africa".
To make your planning very very easy, you might also want to buy (or use a friend's) "Easy Plan", which makes flight planning in South and Southern Africa an absolute pleasure. If you live in South Africa, I would say owning your own copy is essential.
If you plan to fly in South Africa and surrounds into "out of the way" airstrips, I STRONGLY recommend that you do a bush flying course first. This will ensure the safety of your aircraft (and by extension, yourself and your passengers).
If you want to fly in South Africa in a South African registered aircraft and you do not have a South African PPL or higher license, but you have a flying license from another country, then you will need to do a Foreign License Validation.
Fly in South Africa to Foreign License Validation