News (6)

Finding Avgas in Accra proved to be a bit of a problem.

Hey Andrew, Hell I tell you this morning we couldn't get out of bed…… The stress for me in particular (ironic from the right seat I know) knocked the socks off me and I was dead on arrival at the hotel. Slept like the dead is what I would call it.

Tracking back a bit Luanda is a proper sh!thole. Much like Maputo…. No offense to anyone but I am glad to have got out of there.

Landing at Accra in the dark was quite something. We came in at around 10pm, hit some clouds and wind that shook us around quite a bit, but the massive, brightly lit runway was hard to miss and Mike performed like a true aviator! It was a great moment of relief and triumph for the both of us.

Finding Avgas in Accra is proving to be a bit of a problem. Only three people in the country have it and they're selling it for R65 per litre (US$6.50). So thanks to Andrew doing some research and making some phone calls we met up with Sam Winful(a super huge thank you to Sam, we couldn’t have done it without you!) from Mish Aviation who helped us get Mogas. But……. the only way to get it was to go back and forth with a few 25 litre canisters to a place half way to Cairo with no car so we only finished fuelling up at around noon. It was too late to take off for Dakar so we decided to stay and do some work on the engine - change the oil, reset the prop pitch a bit finer.

By 4pm we were exhausted, having woken up this morning at 5am (got to bed around 1am). And just when we really wanted nothing but to get back to the hotel to rest up for tomorrow's flight, this Rambo customs official wouldn't let us through and we spent the better part of an hour trying to convince him that we were pilots and that we weren't in the country illegally. Eventually he let us go. If anyone wants to get through customs easily, remember to wear your pilot shirt with the Epaulette’s showing. This morning we were wearing them and the customs officials let us through without even checking our passports or crew cards. This afternoon after working on the engine we were back in normal clothes and they treated us like scum... The right clothes get you places. So from now on we're not going anywhere without our pilot uniforms ;)

Other than that, Ghana seems to be a really nice place with very friendly people. I highly recommend a visit.

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Flight from Luanda, Angola to Accra, Ghana

We were up at 4am local time this morning to try get some weather reports from the airport as the internet in our hotel was too slow to do anything for us last night. But the airport controllers could only give us a standard Metar reading for Accra for the morning, but nothing for later in the evening when we would be arriving.

At around 9am Avgas was rolled to us in large 200 litre barrels covered in dust and pumped with a primitive hand pump like we were drilling for water a thousand years ago. Under the dust on the top of the barrel I could see that the fuel had expired last year... And just because everything's old and it's a shithole of a city don’t make it cheap. If you do decide to fly your Sling via Luanda be prepared to fork out those big dollar bills.

A massive thank you to Sias and Andrew for helping us with the weather throughout the flight and the logistics on Accra's side. You’re champions. And another massive thank you to Sue and Kristen for the batches of biscuits – breakfast, lunch and dinner. As for the flight, we hit a few tail winds and some head winds toward the end, but overall it was an uneventful flight over the ocean with the odd oil tanker doing it's thing. Tomorrow's weather to Dakar looks good, up at 5:30, so it's to bed for us with a beer for dinner :)

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ZU - TAD continues its journey, next destination - GHANA!!

Hey all as you might have noticed Mike and Greg were flying very slowly due to heavy tanks of fuel but also a headwind. Reason being that there is a thick blanket of cloud at 5000ft. Above 8000ft though its cavok and they have 10 knot tailwinds. So they found a gap and climbed through and are sailing along merrily at 120kts now. The beauty of modern weather systems! This one curtsy of Sias Dreyer, the guy who directed Mike and Jean across the Atlantic during their Rio to Cape Town crossing. See below for the difference in weather and wind between 4500ft and ft. The red line is their route.

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ZU - TAD completes its second leg to Luanda, Angola without a hitch!!

Here is the latest news from Mike and Greg. I just spoke to Mike and he says they are tired but in good spirits as the Red Baron flew like a beauty. They have however been searching for fuel since last night and still no luck. I think the problem is no Avgas and the Mogas is really low octane. So it might mean doing ferry trips into town with 25 litre containers to fill TAD. Then of course there is the challenge of getting fuel through customs……. That is what I got from the phone call but did hear Greg calling in the background to say “fuel guy is here dad”…. So lets hope that means Avgas has been acquired.

GREG BLYTH - Bloody hell the internet is rubbish here… I’ve been trying to get this message and photos through for an hour now to no avail. I have had to give up on the photos I am afraid. Anyway we made it ok, flight was turbulent for quite a long time and now we're at a dirt trap hotel about to prep for tomorrow’s flight.

Flight from Johannesburg to Luanda, Angola (21 July 2013)

We took off in the sexy red ZU-TAD at sunrise this morning. Really heavy with the A, B and C tanks on the backseat filled to the brim (450 litres in total) and all our tools, bags, life raft, immersion suits, food and water, survival equipment and spare parts on top of it. We cleared customs at Lanseria in ten minutes flat and got airborne heading in a north-westerly direction with beautiful tailwinds (thanks to Michiel de Koker). Crossing Botswana was like sitting on the beach with a drink in the hand and I remember thinking this trip was going to be a piece ‘o cake.

Angola kicked us in the teeth like it had a score to settle seeing as Botswana and the top little corner of Namibia had done such a poor job of making our flight suck. We hit a lot of horrible turbulence and within a couple of hours I was feeling sick as a dog. Worst motion sickness I’ve ever had. But some meds and a few hours shut-eye did the trick. There’s really nothing in this country outside of the cities. We’d been going for hours and hours without spotting more than a few tiny villages. This oil producing country is also in the business of producing truckloads of smoke. We hit a thick blanket of smoggy air and had to clear it to see the airport in Luanda.

The landing was a beautiful success to a long day and now we’re in the hotel about to start flight planning and weather-checking for tomorrow’s flight. A shower will do us good – there’s more oil in the air than oxygen. More to follow tomorrow. Thanks to all the messages from our supporters. Andrew has relayed that you guys are watching and wishing us well every step of the way. Sorry about the no picture situation. Internet just wont allow out here!

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Red Baron departs, Oshkosh Tour begins!!

When the production prototype Sling , ZU-TAF was flown around the world during 2009 at take-off and landing she was loaded to 965kg, some 365kg above the maximum all up weight applicable to the light sport aircraft category for which she was designed. Yet she proved herself again and again, performing consistently well at that weight with only a 100hp Rotax 912 ULS engine.

The Sling 4, a light 4 seater variation of the standard Sling, will have an empty weight approximately 50kg heavier than the standard 2 seater Sling. With a maximum all up weight of 920kg it will have a useful load in the vicinity of 470kg, making it a respectable light 4 seater aircraft. With a 115hp turbo charged Rotax 914 UL engine, a constant speed propeller, a fuselage lengthened by some 550mm and standard Sling 2 wings extended by 400mm each at the root.

In fact, so confident are we after our 2011 Sling 4 circumnavigation that we intend to fly our first production Sling 4 to EAA Airventure Oshkosh, leaving within a couple of weeks of her first flight, and return to Johannesburg via Greenland, Iceland, England, Europe and down the west coast of Africa. Construction of the production Sling 4 commenced a couple of months ago in our R&D department under the watchful eyes of Jean and MIke. Although the initial plan was for James and Mike to complete the trip to and from Oshkosh we have decided that its only fair to give others a chance. So... Mike and his son Greg will fly the first leg of the trip from South Africa to Oshkosh, with James flying out commercially. Then James and Tim Parsonson (yes the "Weather Guy" from the 2009 circumnavigation) will pilot ZU-TAD from Wisconsin over Greenland and Iceland to England. Andrew will then fly out to England, spend a couple of days with his Mum and complete the journey back to South Africa with James.

More to follow after departure!

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