From Amsterdam to Johannesburg
On Friday, February 19 2010, Laurence, Maurits and Rene travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa, to do a foreign license validation, and do some flying around Chauteng. Upon arriving at Johannesburg airport, we received an e-mail with the address of the accommodation that had been arranged for us by the flight centre. On Saturday, we had a quick visit to the flight centre at Lanseria airport. Julie showed us the planes, and drove us around the taxiways for orientation. On Sunday we visited the Rhino & Lion nature reserve, north west of Johannesburg. After that we took a drive to Johannesburg (without going into the city).
On Monday, February 22 2010, Rene started with the PPL validation process. In the morning Rene received instruction on the Johannesburg airspace from a local Lanseria controller. At 11:00 Rene took the air law exam, with a positive result. A flying skill test had been planned for the afternoon, but there was no instructor and no plane available. The new plan was to combine the skill test with the navigation flight on Tuesday. On Tuesday Rene received the dual instruction flight. On the leg to Rustenburg we did the turns, stalls, engine failure, etc, stuff while navigating to Rustenburg. The next leg was to Pilanesberg, where we first did an orbit over Sun City. Then back to Lanseria via the Hartebeest Dam lake. Laurence, Maurits and Rene went to the Monte Casino place at the end of the afternoon, where we had diner and some drinks. On Wednesday, the formalities took more time than expected, but that was also because some of the procedures were not clear to the flight school. But at the end of the afternoon the South African license was received, and all was cleared to fly ZS-planes as PIC.
No luck on Thursday. It appeared already in the morning that in would be a non-flying day, which was confirmed when we got to Lanseria airport and we saw the satellite and radar images. While we were there, authorities from several administrations came in to routinely search the place. A health inspector summoned the operator to put a condom machine in the hangar.
Over Soccer City and to Wonderboom
The weather outlook for Friday was not perfect. When we arrived at the flight centre, the Cessna that was made available for us came from another company on the airport, but the plane was rather old, and had an electrical system that also one of the instructors did not understand when we asked about it. Rene decided not to take a chance, and got in contact with another company on the airport where they had sufficient airplanes available to choose from. We did a check ride over Soccer City, and afterwards Rene, Laurence and Maurits visited nearby Wonderboom.
To Tedderfield, Vereeniging and Potchefstroom
Saturday, February 27 2010 was the last day in Johannesburg before returning home in the evening. We hired a plane from the place that we found the day before, and made a trip to Tedderfield, Vereeniging and Potchefstroom. Because of low clouds and limited visibility we did not vist Parys, as we originally had planned.
epilogue In the end we did not return to South-Africa for the intended cross-country trip. We heard stories from locals that everybody was robbed at gun-point at least once in their life, and that it could be worse. We wanted to keep our options open to do perhaps an organized Flying Safari in a group, but also the license became invalid in the meantime. When it was renewed with the necessary paperwork, endorsements, etc, the renewed license came back with an error; the foreign license authority was changed from "Netherlands" into "Mexico". We did not bother to have it corrected anymore.