WHAT IS THIS BLOG ABOUT?
Where are they now? you can see their current position at
It is called Ghana-Juist 1962, since that is the year in which the first Air Cadets from Ghana went to Juist, in Germany, and was part of the creation of the first black African flying school.
Making such an adventure flight requires some preparation:
|Extra Fuel tank|
But what is the purpose:
In 1962, Ghana sent its first cadets to Juist (a small island in Germany near the border with the Netherlands) for flight training using gliders. 50 years later, George Manu and Joerg Bohn are flying a light aircraft from Juist to Ghana. A Director of KPMG (one of the Big Four global professional services firms), George is from Ghana and has a Private Pilot's Licence from the UK and another from Ghana.
Joerg Bohn, who owns the plane, is a former Lufthansa Boeing 737/747 pilot. He is Director of Jubi-Juist, the training school which hosted the first Ghanaian cadets 50 years ago. Joerg is also looking at creative ways to supplement the training and exchange programmes with Medicine on the Move and the AvTech Academy.
Furthermore, they are using their flight to raise money for Medicine on the Move in Ghana, especially for a young girl called Lydia Wetsi, Ghana's only disabled student pilot who needs to undergo delicate surgery abroad. You can read Lydia's story and more on the charity by going to the link below:
A detailed routing can be found on www.iceboat.org then click on 'Jorge's on the Move', then See More.
|Juist Departure Day 1|
Leg 7 Final Destination
Day One (leg 1 Juist to Limoges )
We left Westerstede, Joerg’s flying base, at about 9.15 am local time, arriving in Juist 20 minutes later. After final preparations including filing our flight plan, we took off from Juist at 1.42 pm headed for Limoges in southern France. 3 minutes later and our flight plan would have expired! Joerg thrives on living close to the edge! Our journey had begun and we were both feeling more relieved than apprehensive.
Subsequently, we crossed over to France where we encountered very bad weather after the Paris area. The cloud base was below 200 feet and it was pouring with rain. By now, we had been flying for nearly 4 hours. With 30 minutes to go to Limoges, we were advised by Air Traffic Control to consider going to an alternate airport as the weather in and around Limoges was dreadful. Having flown against strong headwinds of 20 to 30 knots all the way from Germany and with all the diversions we had to undertake to stay clear of restricted areas, our fuel was running low! Decision time! We, or more accurately Joerg, decided to press on. Thankfully, we had carried extra fuel in the spare tank and therefore had enough to hold over Limoges before diverting, if need be . The Air Traffic Controller was more than helpful. He kept us posted on the weather, told us about hills and mountains ahead and gave us permission to fly Special VFR (Visual Flight Rules), which enabled us to go up above the initial layers of cloud to about 3,200 ft. This was necessary to get across the hills and mountains, which are 2,500 ft, in the approach to Limoges.
With less than 10 minutes to go to Limoges Bellegarde Airport, the strip of bad weather gave way to scattered clouds and we found a gap to get in. It was now 5.50 pm, getting dark and still pouring with rain. Nobody else was flying in the Air Traffic Zone around Limoges! Our very friendly Air Traffic Controller graciously switched on the approach lights on the long runway for us. Suddenly, everything looked beautiful and we touched down and stopped using less than a third of the length of the runway. After parking, we stayed in our aircraft for about 15 minutes waiting for the rain to subside until we finally bit the bullet and headed out with our luggage, maps, iPads and other gadgets.
A 7-kilometre taxi ride later, and 22 Euros for the privilege, we arrived in our small 2-star hotel. A nice meal in a local restaurant including a glass of red wine was the perfect way to unwind and celebrate the first day. It was still pouring with rain. We got back to the hotel at 10.30 pm and agreed to meet at 8 am for breakfast before heading off to Spain.
Still pouring with rain. The weather forecast for the day all the way down to Bordeaux and beyond is bad, with low cloud base, down to 200 ft in places, and poor visibility, well below the legal limit. Even Joerg agrees that we cannot fly VFR in this weather, despite his initial optimism. If only he had renewed his IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) licence, but then flying through the clouds for 5 hours in this bad weather with no sight of the ground would be no fun at all.
At 12.30 pm, it was more than clear that we had to extend our stay in the hotel. We used the time to prepare our flight plans to Sevilla in Spain, our next stop, and also to Agadir and Dakhla in Morocco our subsequent stops. We also programmed the route on our iPad using a new software we acquired, which greatly facilitates navigation. We still have to carry and use maps en route, of necessity, besides the navigation system in the plane. We are also carrying George’s Garmin GPS 695. So, a bit of an overkill in respect of navigation systems on board but better to have one too many when back-ups are needed than less! Both of us also managed to catch up on emails. Joerg was surprised to receive an email from a Director in the CAA of Gabon who learnt about our flight. George’s son, Paolo, turned 16 today and, thanks to Skype and the Internet, George was able to do a bit of parental duty and make up somewhat for not being there.
At 2 pm, we headed out for lunch and had a nice meal in the bistro. We ate French style and did not leave the restaurant until 4.30 pm. Joerg was now visibly even more relaxed. He went out shopping afterwards including a walk in the old town, whilst George headed back to the hotel to try to fight off a chest cold.
The weather this evening is better with a cloud base of about 2,000 ft and visibility is up to 8 kms towards Bordeaux. The forecast for tomorrow, however, is looking good. We hope and pray that the clear weather continues to tomorrow morning, in which case we plan to take off at about 10 am for Sevilla in Spain.
Just after midnight last night, we filed our flight plan to Sevilla and received the approval within minutes. Impressive German efficiency, as our flight plan went to the German authorities! We went to bed at 1 am local time expecting to depart early in the morning. The first thing we did today during breakfast was to check the weather forecast. Alas, Limoges was clearing up nicely. However, sadly, not the area around Bordeaux and leading up to the Pyrenees mountains, which are up to 9,000 ft high, and which we need to cross. We looked at options, trying to see if we could fly along the coast but this was not feasible as we would still have to deal with the weather front when we cross inland to get to Sevilla. We also considered going a bit farther south today towards Biarritz or Bordeaux but this was possible.
We resigned ourselves to another day in Limoges. When we asked the young receptionist, who also doubles up as the waiter at breakfast, if we could extend our stay by another day, he replied politely that the hotel was full. Thanks to the Internet and a search engine, we found and made a booking at another hotel nearby and moved. Later in the day, we discovered that there were formalities to comply with at Sevilla airport, regarding leaving from a Schengen to a non-Schengen destination. We quickly tapped into our contacts for help.
As we walked back to the hotel at about 4 pm after our late lunch, the sky around Limoges was blue, with very little scattered cloud. The temperature was around 22 C. Beautiful day to fly – yes, in Limoges. But the issue was the routing and especially the mountain crossing.
It has been wonderful seeing Joerg relax and get some rest – a most unusual sight. At least, that is one good thing about these delays, apart from giving us more time for flight planning and dealing with the authorities.
Day Four (leg 2 Limoges to Sevilla)
|Cloud base on take off from Limoges|
|Old school VFR Navigation|
|Lighthouse of Biarritz|
|Approach to Sevilla Airport RWY 09|
Day Five (leg 3 Sevilla to Al-Massira Morocco)
|Strait of Gibraltar in distance|
We flew at 6,500 ft all the way, across mountainous terrain. Although the Moroccan authorities had approved our flight plan, once they realized that we were flying VFR (visual flight rules), they refused to allow us to fly our planned routing. They diverted us to places we could not find on our maps, giving us coordinates such as 34 01 04N, 008 32 27W. George could work out how to programme these into our on-board Garmin GPS 430. All the flight planning, based on IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) routes, going from one VOR to the other, had gone
|Final Approach Al-Massira Airport.|
Morocco is nice and warm. When we landed at Al-Massira airport in Agadir at about 4.20pm local time (GMT), the outside temperature was 32 C. The frontier police were quite friendly, notwithstanding one or two suggestive remarks, which we politely ignored, feigning lack of comprehension. We found a 4-star hotel, booked over the Internet, for Euros 40 per night which turned out to be quite nice, with a beautifulswimming pool and just 250 metres from the beach. Food is also reasonably priced. Agadir is definitely a place to consider for a holiday. Indeed, the tourist season is just beginning here and we saw large jets carrying holiday makers on the tarmac including an Airbus A 320 which just landed after us from Germany. It had taken us nearly 13 hours flying time to get here. Joerg did not fail to notice that if were flying one of those jets, it would have taken us just 3.5 hours to cover the same distance! True, but then it would not have been very much fun flying IFR in clouds nor much of an adventure to write home about
Day Six (leg 4 Al-Massira to Dakhla )
|Bye Bye Agadir|
From morning till evening we faced challenges. To start with, the airport authorities in Agadir said they could not accept our flight plan as we did not have prior authorization for the internal flight to Dakhla. Joerg began to sweat. The young guys at the tower were very nice and transmitted our hand written request to the civil aviation agency in Rabat. They also helped us copy the VFR way points and coordinates for our journey, with which we prepared and filed our flight plan. The authorization did not come until shortly after 2pm local time. By the time we got airborne – after going through customs, waiting for the man with the key to open the door to allow us access to the apron, walking to the tower, starting and warming our engine and taxiing to the holding point - it was 2.40pm. Earlier, we had decided that we would abort the flight if we did not get airborne by 3pm.
|Just left the cost to Tarlafa|
|Seems nobody lives here|
|Dry salt lake|
We discovered upon arrival at Dakhla that the flight authorization we were given at Agadir just minutes before our departure contains two unfortunate errors. Firstly, the routing is given as Agadir – Dakhla – Layoune. As far as the military controllers here are concerned, that means we have to fly to Layoune, which is 250 nautical miles (about 400 kms) back the way we came today! Secondly, the authorization is only valid for today, meaning that we cannot take off from here tomorrow. No worries though. We are taking steps to deal with this and remain optimistic that we will be able to take off for Dakar tomorrow, DV. We may yet evade arrest, notwithstanding the prophecies of Jonathan Porter..... It's nearly 1.30 in the morning here. Perhaps I should add to complete the story, that the military commander has summoned us to his office at 9 am in the morning.
Day Seven (leg 5 Dahkla to Dakar)
At 9 am, we arrived at the military commander’s office at Dakhla, having been summoned the evening before. For the first time in our journey, we donned our pilots’ uniforms including Captain’s stripes, no doubt to try to make an impression and look respectable. Although slightly apprehensive, we were not overly pertured. Just before the appointment, George sent emails to friends asking them to pray. In the end, it worked out fine. The commander was quite nice and said we could continue our journey onto Dakar, Senegal. He even gave us some advice on what to do next time! Later, we went to the tower, and the air traffic ontroller, also a military guy, was very helpful and gave us all the VFR way points and frequencies.
We refuelled our plane and headed out to Dakar, Senegal via Mauritania. The flight, lasting about 4 hours 20 minues, like all our previous flights, was nice and smooth, notwistanding the problem with our spare fuel tank, which is temperamental and does not work as it should most of the time. It was a hot day with ground temperatures en route around 4O C, and even warmer in the cockpit.
Upon arrival in Dakar, we were pleasantly surprised to see the effect of our uniforms. Going through immigration and customs was a breeze! As we came out of the airport, we met the crew of the helicopter which had taken off from Mauritania and was behind us all the way to Senegal. The crew kindly offered us a lift in their bus to the hotel in town. It was Joerg’s first visit to Senegal and for that matter in West Africa. Indeed, apart from a week in Kenya about 30 years ago, Joerg had never been to Africa. So, what were his first impressions? Highly positive and apparently quite the opposite to the usual notions held in the West. It would not be his last trip, George noted.
Day Eight (Leg 6 Dakar to Harbel)
We returned to Dakar aiport at 10 am. Again, we were accorded the usual courtesies for pilots of commercial airlines, which meant that we got through the formalities without hassle. How different from Dakhla, where they brought a sniffer dog to the plane presumably to check for illicit drugs, not to mention all the other things we had to go through.
Once airborne, we were allowed to fly our IFR (Insturment Flight Rules) routing, which Joerg had already programmed into the Garmin GPS. This made navigation much eaiser. It was another hot day with outside temperatures on the ground at 40 C. The weather forecast we saw in the morning was predicting bad weather. True to form, we did encounter weather and had to go around cumulus and even cumulonimbus cloulds, climbing up to 9,000 ft to get over some of these. It was a little bit scary circumventing some of these clouds and thinking about what we might happen if we had to turn back to the nearest airport (Lungi, Sierra Leone) which is about 220 nautical miles (350 kms) away.
Day Nine (Leg 7 Harbel to Accra)
We made it! At 1725 hrs GMT, George landed the Ruschmeyer at Kotoka International Airport in Accra. Joerg, not for the first time, thought the landing could have been better, commenting later that George flared too early and should have looked outside the side window, and not forward through the windshield, to get a better judgment of the distance from the ground. But then, he has done over a thousand landings in his time and still does dozens of landings every week, whilst George is still counting by the tens and only gets to fly once every week or two, when not travelling for his work. The important thing, though, is that we had made the long journey from Juist, Germany to Accra, Ghana – without incident, mishap or even arrest. Altogether, we flew over 4,000 nautical miles (about 7,200 kms). The Ruschmeyer R90 plane was impeccableaveraging speeds of about 150 knots (270 km/h) and flying at altitudes of up to 9,500 ft with more than full weight load – a fine testimony to German engineering.
|Headed for the airport|
|Good by Liberia|
|Hanger 2 Kotoka Accra|
Day 1 02.11.2012
Accra / Kpong
At the evening Nov. 1st George and Joerg drove to Accra Intl Airport, where Jan Wuppermann just flew in from Germany. Jan and Joerg will take the Ruschmeyer Aircraft back home. They all enjoyed the gathering with original African food in George's home accompanied by a good bottle of South African red wine. The schedule for the following day was tied, so all of them went to bed early.
Day 2 3.Nov.
Accra - Monrovia
During approach Joerg informed the airport ground staff that there is no need for a crew bus (-95 US$) for the 150m to the terminal, further no marshaller (-50 US$) and no one who puts the chocks for the tires in place (-50 US$). The result was visible later. The amount previously paid got cut in half. Yes, we had our lesson and now there is budget for a bottle of wine with dinner. That we just had and are looking forward now to another adventures day on our journey to Dakar, Senegal tomorrow.
November 4th Monrovia-Dakar
5th Nov. Dakar - Dakhla
Nov. 6th GMMH-GMAD (Dakhla-Agadir)
This time we picked the other hotel in Dakhla, the Bab al Bahr. Definitely the better choice. Probably one of the last hot days ahead on our Journey. On our way to the airport we took enough Dirham from an ATM to pay for our fuel bills in Dakhla today and in Agadir tomorrow. If recalculated into Euros or Dollars at a fuel truck the given rates are usually not good. We passed security with no delay.
From tomorrow on our challenges will change. So far we had to struggle with sky high fees for airport handling. From tomorrow on it will be the European weather, unless we can't spend our Dirham tonight. Then we have to consider to stay a few more weeks in the warm climate of Morocco.
We left the Robinson Club at 08:00 in the morning. Trying hard to spend all our money last night, we didn't make it. Unfortunately the hotel we booked ahead was an all inclusive one, which included the cocktails. Jan found a receipt, someone left in the hotel ATM at the reception - smart! Remember: No prove where you got your local currency from, no pay. That was our lesson learned in Dakhla the day before. For sure the Robinson staff was wondering why these two strange guys showed up every other hour to check on the ATM and the waste paper baskets around. Finally we gave up, realizing there's no need to withdraw money in an all inclusive hotel. We got several text messages on how to spend the local money we had. Thank you guys, really great and creative ideas! Don't worry, we won't present them here.
The last chance now was the fuel truck in Agadir today before departure. Perhaps they had to obey other rules than in Agadir.
The weather looked promising around Agadir this morning from the hotel room. The Internet in the hotel was down this morning, so we had no chance neither to complete our flight preparations nor to transmit our flight plan. The taxi took us to Al Massira Airport. The authorities didn't give us a hard time at all. We passed security with no delay and walked to the Operations Office.
Jan and me agreed! It was the toughest leg for the trip so far. Tomorrow the Pyrenees are ahead and one more time we need good weather. Looking forward to!
Due to several weather fronts with embedded Cumulonimbus (CBs) in the forecast we weren't able to file any flight plan the last evening. We decided to drive to the airport first and check the latest weather again. Alex our handling agent, who took care of us upon arrival from Agadir (an agent is mandatory in Seville for flights from Schengen to Non-Schengen countries and vice versa) let us use his desktop to check on the weather. Soon we knew our routing to Limoges won't work for the day. Low cloud bases, rain and bad visibility let neither Jan nor Joerg think to even try. Another routing had to be found, one with a destination where chances were high to continue the following day from. Only the east of Spain looked promising and so did France. Dijon had a perfect forecast for the day with some fog in the morning that might delay our take off to noon tomorrow. Anyway just up to 2,5 hours of flying time ahead no problem. With more daylight we could even make it home already today.
The airport in Dijon is used for civil and military flights and is the home of the Breitling Jet Team. Upon landing ground staff offered a perfect service including a shuttle to the hotel. We both are happy with the decisions taken and the outcome of today. The forecast for tomorrow is good. Just some fog until noon but then we'll be heading home, DV.