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Ghana-Juist 1962


WHAT IS THIS BLOG ABOUT?

This blog is from George Manu and Joerg Bohn who are undertaking a great adventure in order to raise awareness for Medicine on the Move - and the history of Aviation in Ghana.
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.

Joerg, a German national who has flown commercial Jets such as the B747, represents the German connection, and George Manu, a Ghanaian national, represents the Ghanaian National. George is a regular follower and supporter of Medicine on the Move in Ghana and flies at Kpong Airfield when his busy schedule across West Africa permits.

Making such an adventure flight requires some preparation:

Extra Fuel tank
To prepare for this flight, Joerg who is normally 135 kgs tried to lose about 10 kgs to help us meet the weight limits of the plane. To give his co-pilot some encouragement, George decided to lose 2 kgs to get down to 78 kgs. Given the long legs between stops, they installed a 120 litres extra spare fuel tank and removed one of the seats in the back of the plane to fit. They ordered accessories for the plane including one spare nose wheel tyre, one spare main wheel tyre, spark plugs, brake pads etc. In addition, they bought software called Air Nav Pro and installed it on their iPads to facilitate navigation. They also hired an Iridium satellite telephone not only to enable them to make calls at high altitudes if needed but, interestingly, also to transmit their position, altitude, speeds etc to those who wish to follow and track their flight. (www.m-cramer-tracking.de Username "mcramer" /password "mcramer" ), where the information is updated every 10 minutes. They hired a professional firm to handle the entry and landing permits for the various countries into which they would be landing and overflying en route. The toughest of these was Ghana, where a security clearance is required, besides the usual landing permits. Joerg (and Jan Wuppermann whose family founded the Jubi-Juist Centre where it all started 50 years ago - see below) also had to arrange visas for some of the countries.

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.

Lydia


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:

http://medicineonthemove.blogspot.com/p/lydias-story.html

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 4
Leg 5
Leg 6
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.

Juist
We had beautiful weather for the first 2 hours of our journey with outside temperatures of 22 C at 2,000 ft. Our routing took us from Juist across the North Sea to the Netherlands, where we had to circumvent several restricted zones. It appears this was a day when all military zones were active! Then, we crossed over to Belgium where we had to go around Brussels to stay clear of complicated restricted zones. This must have added an additional 15 minutes to our journey, taking us off plan.

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.

Day Two

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.

Day Three

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
Having spent two days in Limoges as a result of bad weather, we were geared up to go today. Thank God, the weather forecast for our routing was mostly good, apart from a few scattered and broken clouds in places. On the way to the airport, Joerg remembered that we needed reflective vests for Sevilla Airport as well as cleaning material for the windshield and windows of the plane. Our taxi driver was only too happy to oblige to our request for a detour. George had also come down with a chest infection and needed some antibiotics and cough syrup. At 8.30 am all the pharmacies were still not open, except the last one we tried. The lady at the counter bluntly refused to dispense any antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription, ignoring the fact that George is a doctor and knew what he wanted!

Old school VFR Navigation
We got through the formalities at Limoges airport without hassle and took advantage of the relatively low price of AVGAS (about 2.30 Euros per litre) to fill our plane and the spare tank to the brim. There was a last minute hitch as Air Traffic Control claimed that they did not have our flight plan. We switched off our engine and made frantic calls to Germany. But the situation was soon resolved and at 10.47 am local time, we were air borne. With no or very little headwind (less than 10 knots), we made good progress, with average speeds of about 150 knots (about 275 km/h). In descent, we touched about 220 knots (about 400 km/h).

Lighthouse of Biarritz
Our altitude all along the route was 5,500 ft or higher. We had lovely views over Biarritz and the Bay of Biscay, as you can see from the photos. We flew over the Pyrenees initially at 6,500 ft and subsequently at 9,500 ft. Surprisingly, there was virtually no traffic on our routing. George thought this was because he and Joerg were the only crazy pilots to fly but Joerg felt the reason had to do with people being at work. We were passed from one Air Traffic Controller to the other (over half-a-dozen) but this was nothing compared to the first day, when we went from Germany through the Netherlands and Belgium to France. The French and Spanish controllers today were all helpful and friendly.

Approach to Sevilla Airport RWY 09
4 hours 17 mins later, we landed at Sevilla airport and walked out without a single question, check or formality. Lovely! A short taxi ride and we were in our hotel, which Airbus kindly booked for us. At 4pm, we went to a typical Spanish restaurant near our hotel and had a very nice meal. Afterwards, we went to a pharmacy a few meters away and the lady at the counter had no hesitation in giving George the antibiotics he needed. What a difference a border makes! Although George has worked in 50 countries, this was his first visit to Spain. He could not have wished for a better reception. Louis Armstrong was right – what a wonderful world!


Day Five (leg 3 Sevilla to Al-Massira Morocco)

Strait of Gibraltar in distance
Africa, here we come! You could almost hear us mutter the words as we crossed the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco. Yes, three legs into our journey and we had crossed over to the continent. It was surprising to see how close Morocco is to Spain – less than 10 minutes flying time over the sea! No doubt a reflection of how connected we are all to each other and why we should be our brother’s keeper!

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.
 to waste. Thank God, we muddled through and occasionally the controller gave us a steer. However, this diversion along with head winds of up to 36 knots (about 65 km/h) meant that our journey which should have lasted about 3 hours actually took 4 hours and 15 minutes.

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
Our good friend, Jonathan Porter, also known as Captain Yaw, who runs Medicine on the Move in Ghana, prophecised before our flight that we would be arrested at least once en route. Thanks to Joerg’s gentle charm, not to mention his size (all 135 kgs of it) and George’s faith, we have managed to keep the authorities on side so far. However, today was certainly the most tricky, culminating in our landing at a military airfield in Dahkla in southern Morocco at 6.20pm – 20 minutes after sunset and just 10 minutes before night fall.

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
Our routing was along the coast. To the right were the Canary Islands and Tenerife beyond another reminder, if one was needed, of how close they are to Morocco. To the left, it was desert – dry, sand and no trees. We saw no ships. We heard no other pilots on our radio frequencies for 3 hours into our flight. There were no cars on the desert roads. We saw smoke bellowing from two or three industrial installations. Otherwise, the terrain looked harsh and lifeless. The mountain ranges meant that we did not always have radio contact with air traffic control. There was nobody else flying. It was like being out in the wild west.

Seems nobody lives here
Our journey so far has been a test of endurance for both pilots. Although each leg flown so far has lasted over 4 hours, neither of us have used the urine receptacles we purchased for the trip! If someone had told us beforehand that two men who have passed their prime could hold out for so long, we would have laughed. Not only that, we have gone the distance without drinking any water or liquids at all! Joerg paid the price today. He was sweating profusely, after our encounter with the military and police upon arrival at Dakhla today. Even two bottles of cold beer were not enough to quench his thirst and cool him down. George quickly arranged a large bottle of cold water and some towels to help his friend whose clothes were all wet with sweat. It worked!

Dry salt lake
When we finally came out of the airport, there were no taxis in sight. After several minutes of waiting, the first one that came along took off again as we stood waiting for the driver to open the boot for our luggage. When the next one came, the driver did not get out to help us. When we asked him to open the boot for our luggage, he pointed to the top of the car and asked us to put our luggage on top of the roof rack. We had no choice but to oblige. He eventually dropped us on the other side of the road from the hotel, expecting us to cross the busy road ourselves with our luggage and did not even attempt to get out of the car to help us get our stuff from the roof rack. When we arrived at the hotel, supposedly 4-star, there was nobody to help us with our luggage. Moreover, the lady at the reception did not seem to have a reservation for us. Our rooms do not have air conditioning or a fridge and the Internet only works in the lobby. It is after midnight as we write and the night porter has switched off the lights in the lobby where we are sitting, ignoring the fact that there are paying customers here. What an unfriendly lot, compared to the people we had encountered so far on our journey. One would not have thought they were in the same country we entered yesterday. Were we wrong in our assessment in our Day 4 Blog that Louis Armstrong was right? Clearly, these people have no idea whatsoever of customer service nor even of basic courtesies. How sad!

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)
 
Capt Joerg

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.

Captain George
Today’s flight, from Dakar to Robertsfield, Liberia was memorable in more ways than one. Firstly, we were surprised by our ability to endure 8, yes eight,hours without using toilet facilities. Secondly, this was our longest flight to date, covering 656 nautical miles (over 1,160 km). We touched down, excited by the fact that there is just one leg to go to Accra, Ghana, our final destination. However, at the time of writing, the weather forecast for Accra is not looking good - thunderstorms! We have come far and managed to get through various obstacles. But, not for the first time, the weather is dictating the pace and determining when we can throw our hats in the air!


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
We set off from Liberia at 1pm today, with our feathers a little ruffled. For, in all the places that we landed – Limoges, Sevilla, Agadir, Dahkla, Dakar – the most we ever paid for landing fees and parking was about US$ 50. Not so in Robertsville, Liberia. This morning, we were slapped with a fee of over US$ 500. Initially, they wanted to charge over US$ 1,000, until we protested! What for? We still do not understand. We were charged for items such as runway lighting, even though we arrived and took off in broad daylight and did not once see any runway lights. We were also charged over US$ 90 for the bus shuttle, even though, we never asked for a bus, which in any case took us less than 150 metres from our plane to the arrival gate. Security was over US$ 120. For marshalling service, they demanded US$ 50, even though there was no marshall around when we arrived and we made our own way to the parking position. Just the day before, we had paid less than US$ 10 in Dakar, Senegal for landing fees and parking. If a relatively developed city like Dakar with a very busy airport charges just US$ 10, what is the justification for an airport in a country like Liberia charging over US$ 500? Here is a classic case of a bad investment climate. No wonder, there were no planes in sight in all the time we were there, except for a small 10-seater aircraft and some UN planes. George was adamant that he would never again land a plane in that country, if ever he had a choice.
Good by Liberia
Looking at the big picture, we are grateful to God that our mission has been accomplished. Joerg is visibly relaxed. We celebrated this evening with a spicy Ghanaian fish stew with vegetables and basmati rice plus a bottle of South African red wine. Joerg still managed to clear his plate, despite the pepper in the food which had him drinking about half-a-dozen glasses of cold water. He commented later that his nostrils were all nicely cleared.

Hanger 2 Kotoka Accra
Today’s flight was not without adventure. We had to battle through thunderstorms and cumulonimbus clouds. We flew as low as 1,000 ft at times and diverted off track along the coast to stay clear of weather. We departed special VFR (visual flight rules) to get through. We also had to manage our fuel frugally, which meant reducing our speed. But, thank God, it all worked out well and we are here. We are grateful to all of you following us and especially for those of you who have given generiously and prayed for us. Without you, it would not have been the same. Mission accomplished. Thank you!

Ghana Juist

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.

Next morning we all drove to Kpong Field where "medicine of the move" is based. On our way we took a turn onto an old closed airfield where 50 years ago the previously on island Juist trained young pilots continued their flying career. The airfield and the old hangers still looked great and could open up again any time. Just after another 15 min drive we arrived at Kpong. Jan got the chance to take rides in planes the female students built. He got introduced to the medical drop procedures. Very exciting, he said with a big smile. At the same time George and Joerg listened to the presentations the girls have made about experiences during their first Ruschmeyer flight some days ago.

After their visit all three drove to the Accra Intl Airport to prepare their plane for the return journey to Germany the following day. Access to the Avgas fuel was not as easy as expected, but after four hours and several phone calls into several countries and Ghana finally a barrel of fuel showed up! We rather keep quiet about the price paid. Anyway: we were good to go and went to our farewell dinner with Dirk Moellers, a diplomat of the German embassy.




Day 2 3.Nov.
Accra - Monrovia

Again our host George Manu treated us with an excellent breakfast and we took off in time for the airport. After being around there for almost a week getting to know all procedures, access to the apron was easy. On the apron Dirk Moellers showed up to personally say good bye to us. He urged us not to do any unplanned landings within the outback of Ghana, otherwise his embassy would have a lot of work. Both, George and Dirk waved good bye and we were on our way to Monrovia. Thank you for all you have done for us. You're fantastic! Excellent weather, friendly controllers and a beautiful scenery made the flight pure pleasure.

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.

Day 3
November 4th Monrovia-Dakar

After struggling with the hotel internet and scanner we finally took a shuttle bus to the airport. Along the road some of the houses were still in ruins, even the war is over for almost 9 years. It 's obvious. There are a few very rich and a lot of poor people in the country. Blue helm troops and vehicles everywhere. Business seems to go well at least for some big companies. On the bus a delegation of the Mormon church, who seem to have quite a big community in Liberia. They even knew a former colleague of mine, who used to be the Chief Pilot of Lufthansa at the time I worked there. What a small world. 45 minutes upon our departure from the hotel our driver William dropped us safely.

We knew how to pass security and went straight to the Met Office. The friendly lady had difficulties to get the weather for the day. She offered us the charts for the following day, that we didn't require. Finally Joerg surprised here by installing a new weather program onto her computer, enabling her to provide the weather for the day needed. The guys knew Joerg from his last visit, when he negotiated hours about the landing fees. This time the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed and we got even a free ride to our plane (last time 95 US$).

Just an hour later as planned Jan lifted the Ruschi off RWY 22 and joined the filed route with a right turn. Clouds forced us to leave our altitude of 1800 ft for 10.000 ft. Again sad news for Jan wishing to spot some elephants, giraffes and other animals. Why you don't go the the zoo at home Joerg asked. Jan thought that wasn't funny. The tailwinds pushed us with groundspeeds around 180 kts. With the wind we made it in a little more than 4 hours instead of almost 5. Again a scenic flight crossing four countries. Approaching Dakar we left the bright green forests. You could already feel that tomorrow the desert is all we will see. Dakhlah-we are coming!

Day 4
5th Nov. Dakar - Dakhla

After a very relaxing evening in the beautiful restaurant on the beach in Dakar and a small drink in the hotel bar, we went back to the airport in the morning by taxi. The shrimp from the night before was still rather noticeable in our stomachs. After the usual security checks and immigration, we learn that despite all the efforts of the last days, Morocco has not yet granted permission to land at the military airport in Dakhla. The Canary Islands then became an option for the day's destination, but with a flight time of less than six hours, not a very nice option. Nevertheless, as our partners from the International Flight Service continue to work on the approval, we are permitted again to go with the nice big bus to the aircraft to refuel it with the hand pump (200 liters!). Along with almost all the handler employees here, the driver has been provided with Airbus badges and key rings or Büfa pens and travel alarm clocks, thus the atmosphere is pretty friendly!

Around 11:00 we sit ready to fly in the HX, but unfortunately still no OK from Dakhla. But half an hour later the call with landing permission came from Frankfurt, much to our relief. Only four hours of flight instead of the feared six hours. This was especially pleasing to Jörg, who , unlike Jan, had not taken the precaution of packing Imodium tablets. As I said, the shrimp ... Aside from a few difficulties with the radio communications, we had a smooth flight in perfect weather. While the Imodium was kept close by, fortunately, it was no longer needed. The landscape below us became more and more desert-like and we flew along hundreds of kilometers of a deserted dream beach. Surprisingly, there were no giraffes here either. [translator note: giraffes are not native to this area]

George and Joerg had reported extensively about Dhakla. The ordeal of the outbound flight was fortunately not repeated today. Forms in triplicate did not even have to be filled out at all ("We have the data already"), the controller who was so very courteous on the radio let us photograph the VFR maps of Morocco that we were missing, and even the drug dog seemed to rejoice in seeing Joerg again. It took only an hour and we were through and on the empty parking lot. After the experience of last week, we had booked a room via the internet at the best hotel (admittedly very small) in the city. In the absence of taxis, one of the airport employees took us personally to our hotel, where we went for a cool dip in the Atlantic. Dakhla is at its best. The rest of the evening - besides the renewed enjoyment of local shellfish - was used for the arduous flight preparation of the coming day.


Day 5
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.

People smiled and where again very helpful. Special thanks to the controller, a great guy. The fuel truck showed up on time with a fresh 200 litre drum of Avgas 100 LL. When it came to settle the bill we were asked to show our receipts from the ATM with for the Dirham. Well, we left those behind because we thought we won't need them. Our lesson learned today: No prove where your money came from in Morocco no pay. We paid again in Dollars and now don't know what to do with 10000 Dirham (more than 1000 US$). We could live here another month with that amount and only had two ideas to get rid of that amount in just one night. We'll let you know tomorrow how we spend it.

Take off almost an hour ahead of time on Runway 03 took us straight to the coast. Again a scenic flight, desert on the right and the Atlantic on the left. It is mandatory to take the routing along the coastline. If we had to go down for any reason at least it would be easier to spot us. Further the N1, the only road within hundreds of kilometres is built along the coast as well. The desert routing this way makes sense and gives you the safety you need in this environment. Beautiful and empty beaches for thousand of miles.

Again with a push by the wind we made it in less than 4 hours to Agadir. The beach in front of hotel invited us for a swim before we took our sundowner at the bar.

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.





Day 6
Agadir -Sevilla
GMAD-LEZL

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.

Its pure pleasure to prepare your flight there. First we were taken to the radar control room. There we could define our routing direct on the radar screen. If you fly according visual flight rules in Morocco the routing has to follow special points (coordinates), that don't comply with the instrument routing. We didn't have them on our maps. They told us where to get the right maps to make our life easier the next time. Well, with the hospitality found, we only can encourage everyone to fly there. Jan transferred the given position coordinates into our US Defence Department maps, while I got a personal weather briefing by the meteorologist. The weather looked ok for the routing and also for Seville. We ordered the fuel truck. The service we got overall at the airport in Agadir was outstanding. Agadir airport staff offered the most personal and friendly service one can imagine. When it came to pay the fuel truck driver asked for the receipt from the ATM again. There were only two chances. Either we were able to show receipts for the full amount or pay everything in Euros. Since we only had one receipt that didn't cover the full amount the whole bill had to be settled in Euro again. Jan went back into the terminal to give it a last try to get rid of our local currency. 20 minutes later he came back with no Dirham. It wasn't easy but he made it! Of course we lost, but not all! Well done!

The departure took us in a right turn over the lower side of the beautiful Atlas Mountains and we climbed to Flight Level 85 (approximately 8500ft). During climb we already realized ground speeds of more than 160 kit. Upon reaching the level we had cruise speeds of more than 200 knots in economy cruise at 65% with a consumption of 44 litres/hour. This would have taken us in around 2,5 hours to Seville, if the weather would not have changed. Thunderstorms moved in from the west forcing us to divert significantly east of track. Approaching Tanager it didn't look good at all and we had to alter our course by more than 50° east. We lost contact with Casa Approach. Tanger Approach was helpful and did the relay. Just before TTN VOR (that is a radio navigation aid) weather allowed to resume on track, but the bad weather had already headed towards our track again. Additionally we had to avoid a restricted area. A 180 degree was necessary and took us right were we came from, back to Africa. No time to consider that there were two spare days left and why not use those up where its warm, in Morocco. Upon passing the restricted area we took another turn to resume towards Seville. Nice try but no success, due to the Gibraltar restrictions. Another turn directed us to the east and we felt not so comfortable anymore. Our alternate port tanger meanwhile in heavy thunderstorms no longer an option, even the forecast had been very promising in the morning. A new alternate had to be found immediately. Air traffic control forwarded us weather for Jerez and Malaga, that we asked for. Both didn't meet our alternate criteria's with visibilities of less than 2000m and cloud bases around 400 feet, so we asked for Granada weather. Good news, Granada had beautiful weather. Anyway we gave Seville, after we circumnavigated the Gibraltar area around the east a very last try. The controllers allowed us to fly wherever we liked, due to no more traffic in the area. Just a few showers on our way and after passing the mountain range the ground visibility allowed for descent. Approaching Seville the weather turned out to be quite nice, even though upon landing heavy rain started.

We almost ended up in Granada today, which would probably have been as nice as Seville. This was our shortest flight on the trip (actually it would have been well below three hours, instead of slightly above, without circumnavigating weather and restricted areas).

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!


Day 7
Nov. 8th
Seville-Dijon (LEZL-EFSD)

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.


Departing Seville
 At 11:00 we started our engine and made our way to the Mediterranean Coast with a few diversions due to bad weather. We passed by Almeria, Valencia and Barcelona. Our altitude was 7500 feet in the beginning at 10.000 feet at the end. We thought with all the hydro power, wind mills and solar farms Spain can be very happy. The Pyrenees were clear of clouds and the crossing to Perpignan was scenic.

Groundspeeds well above 200 knots gave us again the push to make it in less than 4 hours 50. The Spanish and French controllers let us fly as requested and did a wonderful job to make our life easy. What a service!

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.

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