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Travel Report

Mauritius Diary

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Beachcomber Hotels Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority

Air Mauritius

A Diary

2. Juli 2000: Hi folks,

we have arrived in Luxor. between 12.00 UTC and 12:45 UTCalls forum PA46 landed safely In time like with commercial carrier. Everybody is feeling fine. No problems, exept of one GPS failure.

03. Juli 2000, 22.33 lokal Luxor

A festive evening with dinner in a Bedouin tent with traditional belly dance and water pipe. Everybody enjoying themselves; practically everybody wanted to dance with the well-proportioned dancer. Arabian at its best.

Previous evening in Iraklion, very pleasant (top processing, quick service and 25 minutes turn-around in Pula LDPL), an uncomplicated flight past the eastern coast of Italy and past Greece with an approach in very heavy traffic to Iraklion. No sign of a strike anywhere. Bit of a delay with the shuttle to the hotel as there had been a death in the family of the deputy chairman of the Iraklion airport. His substitute did his best, but was unfamiliar with the routine.

Iraklion

A nasty cut treated free in one of the three hospitals on Crete and then on to a pleasant dinner. Unexpectedly able to tank on the ESSO Card (AVGAS), though prices high as anticipated. Jet Fuel with the Uvair Card no problem, surprisingly cheap. Taken into the air by the prettiest traffic controller in Iraklion but not before wasting 25 minutes and 10 gallons waiting at Position 31 due to endless traffic on 27 Egypt: no problem thanks to full radar coverage, as interestingly in Greece too. Approach to Luxor partly visual, partly VORDME, partly ILS. Perfect handling by the Egypt Air staff – preparations by Air Mauritius were paying off.

Equally perfect attention from the tourist guides.

Problems though in communication with the ATC in Luxor. Frankfurt showing itself from its best side for the second time: eight flight plans for the two legs accepted and put into the system – an hour later, enquired at Cairo: all present and correct.

Weather information from the Metoffice in Cologne-Bonn no problem after teething trouble.

A visit today of two temples in the Valley of the Kings and a tour of Luxor. Our Egyptian guide, a machine engineer from Graz, could tell stories off the cuff like others read from a book. My compliments.

Getting into Luxor was not a problem. Getting out of Luxor was indeed.

Although all arrangements had been discussed, fixed and confirmend by fax between AirMauritius and EgyptAir, it was a mess.

Not only that bunches of officials created one problem after the other, but as well prices increased by every 10 minutes, so that at last, after having lost more than an hour on the ground, as we were ready to start the engines, they came to ask for another unexpected passenger fee, and would not let us out, before that additional fee had been payed.In the end, per plane a total of about USD 300 had to be payed.

N46 PW had already crossed the Egyptian/Sudan FIR for more than an hour, when the message was passed from the last Malibu in the row, that they had been informed by Caioro ATC, Kharthoum was closed from 08.00 to 12.00 UTC due to constrction works on the one and only runway. You may imagine our feelings at this very moment as Luxor/Cairo had accepted our flight plans without hesitation and without a word concerning a notam of this importance.

A periode of intensive calculations followed, and shortly afterwards it was clear, that we would not be able to stay in the air until 12.00UTC we would have to return to Abu Simbel the others probably would make it, but at any rate we would not make it to our final destination of that day: Nairobi during daytime (as Wilson closes at sundown)

Fortuntely we found wonderful support by the crew of SAUDIA 450, who were heading northwestbound . We told them our problem, that we had not received a notam, that we insisted on a technical landing in HSSS, and that our proposal was a landing on a part of the runway, as we did not need more than 500 m landing distance. It took abaout 20 minutes of negotiations during which we continued with holding power, until HSSS agreed. We were so glad, that we spontaneously offered two bottles of Champagne to SAUDIA 450, to which they initially agreed, but a short while later came back to us and asked whether they could change their honorar into two tickets for the football world championship in Germany in 2006.

You can imagine that anybody on 126.9 was laughing.

An hour later HSSS took us in on the first kilometer of their runway, with no contruction works in sight,

Refueling was pretty fast, the price for handling was dramatically negotiated down, after mentioning, that FSI had confirmed USD 150.-

Departure from HSSS was uncomplicated to LODWAR VOR after we had assured through various chanels, that the flight through Ethiopian Airspace was not dangerous for us-

Unfortunately, shortly after reaching the ethopian airpace, the electronic HSI of 46PW quit. From one moment to the other, the screen was blank, both cbs for autopilot and Sandel hat quitt.

Once again, we had to start reflections about alternaive destinations, as Nairobi had forecasted a low cloud base in the evening. We decided to go to Lokichoggio, United Nations airstrip in Northern Kenya, near the South Sudan border, and after all, this proved to be a clever decision because, during the shut down procedure of our engine, all electrical supply quitt.

After that, we had nothing but power on our emergency bus,and that was it. No chance to restart the engine, even when connected to a GPU, the panel stayed dark. That was at 17.30 local 14.30 UTC.

First idea was to go to Nairobi by charter, join the others and get back with a electrician from a Wilson facility, but the last sheduled flight had already departed, and the pilots of several Cessna caravans were exausted after a day of 8 hours of flying into South Sudan.

Thanks god, we had the NERA satelllite phone on board . After some busy calls with Nairoi to inform the rest that we had safely landed, and they should not wait for us with diner, after a first brainstorming with Frantisek about the likly reason for the lack of power, we decided to stay for a night, and joined „Heather all weather" in her camp, which proved to be a very comfortable camp, partly with small houses, partly comfortable tents, excellent diner in the evening and very cold beer for $ 40 (crew reduction).

Next morning, we immediately contacted Jet Aviation in Düsseldorf and after receiving the electrical wirering diagramm via SATELLITE FAX; the problem was solved within half an hour by Norbert from Augsburg and Steven form Johannesburg, two of a whole bunch of engineers, all working for UN or red cross in Loki. Once again a cordially thanks to them from this position.

During the next leg, which brought us to Kilimanjaro Intl.-, we had some time to spend on our HSI and we discovered, that only the display had failed, whereas the backgrond function was still alive, what meant for us, that we did not have to fly all the time by hand. The procedure was. establish on a heading, press the autopilot heading function without engaging the autopilot, check the flight director while turning the headingbug and as soon as the flight director showed wings level, engage the autopilot, and it worked! Of course, we did not dare to fly an ILS on No 1 according to this procedure, but with an operating HSI on the copilots panel and an VOR/ILS indicator on the left side, even an standard VOR two beacon approach in Kili t a real problem.

To our suprise, the the others had not yet passed from Nairobi via Kili to Lake Manyara, but were to be expected shortly, and indeed, an hour later, all four Malibus had joined together. What followed was a wonderfull VFR flight in a formation to Lake Manyara Lodge within Lake Manyara National Park, for which we had received (as an exception to the rule) a prior permission by the Tanzanian authorities.

The strip at HTLM was said to be 1200 m long, and gravel in good condition, and as a matter of fact it was. Of course, a real lot of dust, but a very hard surface, few stones, no holes. Nevertheless the crews of the piston Malibus were glad to have accepted an offer by Air Mauririus, to check out as much luggage in terms of load as possible in Nairobi, which was flown in by Air Mauritius some days later.

The Lake Manyara lodge proved to be a beautiful place located at the very border of a high plateau of approx. 4.500 ft elevation, i.e. about 1.200 feet above the niveau of the lake with an incredivble view over the lake (20km²) and the national park. THE real highlight was the Safari through that national park next morning, when we faced nearly every sort of wild life animals except big cats; e.g. the elefants passed by within 5 meters, a 6m giraffe stood near the road like she was expecting us.

Late afternoon we made a short trip to Arsuha (HTAR) and stayed in the Montain Lodge near Arusha, which on the one hand was located in a beautiful tropical garden, on the other hand seemed to have had their most exclusive days in the late seventies. We were the only guests to stay, but in the evening, after having diner, to sit at the open fire place, with a bear, was nevertheless very comfortable.

After a one hour flight to Dar es Saalam to check out customes and refuel, we left for Madargascar, Antannarivo (FMMI). Winds aloft were farourable, so that it took us only 3 hs to get there.

As we had decided to stay for a night in Tanna, in order not to land in Mauritius after sunset, there was need for visa and hotel.

By chance, we met the captain of a Mauritian King Air based in Tanna and he appeared to be the manager of a charter and executive flight service in Tanna. His chief of operation got the order to care for us, and that was what he made. Within relatively short time, we had accomodation, transportation and visa, and stayed for only 12 USD in the Ivato hotel close by the airport, had diner for USD 8! including starter, main course, beer and wine. Not too bad, wasn t it?

Next morning sheduled departure to Mauritius along UA400F at flight levels between 230 and 170 and about noon local time arival at FIMP: What a welcome.

Three TV teams out of the Indian Ocean region plus authorities and upper Beachcomber managament.

As we came to learn, we as a matter of fact were really the first foreign private planes, that ever were allowed to land at Plaisance. It had been a subject for a minister s conference to decide, that they would „risk" the first arrival of General Aviation within their airspace.

What we did not know neither: as we departed from Tanna, the french fleet based in Reunion was in alert condition and spread between the Madargascar coast and Mauritius, and a US reconnaissence aircraft had departed from Diego Garcia, to observe the airspace from above.

Monday 9.7.

Wonderful invitation for the whole group by the German general consul in Mauritius, to meet interesting Mauritians in his private mountain residance. Splendid evening, extremely nice people, all openhearted, very god wine, afterwards great Italien buffet at the hotel. (Trou aux biches) first taken on the terasse, second showing the German general consul trying to finish a teletubby puzzle for my daughter.

Bad news of the day: despite all efforts of Air Mauritius: some of the luggage we left in Nairobi seems to have been stolen, did not arrive as expected. Weather: partly cloudy, partly sunny, some showers, 15 - 25° C.

Tuesday 10.7.

Classic concert in on of the finest creole restaurants on the island, finger food endlessly, Vivaldi Händel and Mozart by MOZART, which means in creole language "my art". Looking like they were going to play reggae, intrumentation like Jaques Loussier with play Bach, they performed a wonderful concert of music, which has its origin 10.000 km away from where they live. Weather: partly cloudy, partly sunny, some showers, 15 - 25° C.

Wensday 11.7.

Technical ride to the airport, taxi into the huge Air Mauritius hangars, then do minor maintenance, oil change etc. N 46PW repaired their electronic HSI, as Avionic Straubing, after a single call, instantaneously sent a repair kit onboard Air Mauritius 33 from Frankfurt. Everthings working properly now again, thanks a lot from this part of the world. RB faces one Vacuum pump u/s. Unfortunately, the counterclockwise turning, as we have only one clockwise turning among other spares on board. In the evening: special diner for the group accompanied by a Sega dance performance by one of the best known Sega groups of Mauritius Weather: partly cloudy, partly sunny, some showers, 15 - 25° C.

Thursday 12.7.

Guided tour throuhout the island, passing via Port Louis, the traditionell market, new shopping centers, the waterfront and Pampelmousses garden, a botanic exhibition. In the evening: cultural hindu, creole, chinese performance along a four courses feefood gala diner Weather: partly cloudy, partly sunny, some showers, 15 - 25° C

Friday 13.7.

Weather: bright and sunny, no clouds, 25° C, water 25°C, like in normal winter Swimming, sailing, snorkeling In the evening: galadiner and banquett, meeting with about all directors of the participating companies, authorities, ministries etc

Saturday 15.7.

Departure at 06.00 UTC, only DC waiting for Air Mauritius flight from Paris, hving a new GPS on board, as No 1 failed during the flight. Thanks a very lot to Bill Dempster, GM of AM in Germany, as he with his connections along the routing managed every problem instantaneously. Destination FMMI, refueling, very easy, quick turn around due to perfect handling by Mr. Koto, operation agent of Madagascar Flying Service, mfs@dts.mg, landing fees USD 7.- then to the Comores, Moroni (FMCH) for night stop in the Galawa Beach Hotel, 20 minutes north of the airport.

The island looks like Lanzarote, as both are of volcanic origin, but in contrast to the latter, Moroni seems to seems to be completely covered by palmes and banana stouds. Evening buffet after a wonderful sundown under the open sky with candle light.

Sunday, July 16th:

A one hour and fourtyfive minutes trip brought us from Moroni to Sansibar. Meanwhile we found out, that Dar Controll even without radar coverage accept shortcuts on request along GPS tracks.

Zanzibar really is one of the highlights of the trip. Very friendly wellcome, very friendly people, and the hotel: a hit. Zanzibar Serena Inn, on the coastline of Stonetown, the old part of the city. Sitting in the restaurant at open windows is like sitting 3 meters above the Surface of the Indian Ocean. One can imagine, that David Livingston came here several times with pleasure, until he died in 1873? in the year, the Sultan Bargash signed the declaration abolishing the slave trade. Sunday evening an hours guided walk through the small streets of stone town, have a beer in the one and only waterfront cafe, afterwards diner.

Monday, July 17th

We are supposed to spend a day on the beach in the north with water sport activities. So nothing to spend much talking about. Look at thepictures: they do not need any comment:





From Zanzibar to Lokichoggio via Nairobi at FL220: no problems except that nobody was able to give us neither an actual nor a forecast of Lokichoggio or Lodwar as our alternate. Nothing serious, if during summertime, an airport has instrument approach facilities, bus HKLK and HKLO both are VFR strips. So it was clear, that latest when being in the airspace above Nairobi, we had to have the Loki weather. To make shure, we would not be flying into a strip in the middle of nowhere, we sent an email to Trackmark Ltd., bureau in Nairobi, with a camp in Loki, and thanks to our laptop equipped with a NOKIA card phone and the availability of GSM in Zanzibar, we received the answer shortly before taking of: open skies.

As we passed over Nairobi, the crew of a Kenya airways flight from Loki confirmed that statement: cavok at Loki.

So it was. No problems during the approach, as wehad received the coordinates fo the (so called) IFs for runway 09. Park position between Hercules, Antonows, Caravans, one UN King Air.

A very warm wellcome by all those, who had already cared for the N 46PW crew a fourtnight ago, transfer to the Trackmark camp byHeather all weather, and then enjoy a cold beer.

Diner in the evening and very many pilots s stories.

But Africa would not be Afria, if everything was as easy as this. Next morning: severe sickness as a real problem for at least 5 of the crews. And about 10 hours of flying ahead.

In the end, we didnt find out, what the reason was, but it must have bees something like Coli bacteria, because the typical symptoms began only 2 to 4 hours after diner (and vanished late afaternoon).

Back in the air shortly after 05.00 UTC, northwestbound to Kharthoum via Malakal NDB, i.e. the decision against following the eastern airway through the ethiopian airspace due to the fact, that some of the UN crews had repoted an incident, during which a n Islander had been perforated by a Kalaschnikow on the ground while deloading food.

And, you would not imagine, Malkal only a few miles ahead, we again received the news, Kharthoum was closed due to works in progress on the one and only runway until 11.30 UTC, the only difference in contrast to our flight form Luxor to Kharthoum two weeks ago, this time they would not accept us by any means. What to do? No chance for the DLX to stay in the air until 11.30 UTC, for the piston engines probably, but that would have meant, if HSSS would open an hour later, they as well would be short of fuel.. It was the controller in Malakal, who offered an acceptable alternative: go to El Obeid, 200 NM southwest of HSSS, where he had made shure, Jet A 1 was available.

After a short discussion on 123,42, we decided to proceed to HSOB all together, the others would wait until 10.30 UTC, then hop over.

So we did. If Loki had already been in the middle of nowhere, El Obeyd was in the real center of the middle. On th other hand: cavok and a controller, that knew his job. And landing fees taken out of the bleu, USD about 200.- for nothing. Jet A 1 for USD 1,60/ gal.

Back in the air, with unfavourable winds, we knew early, we would not make it to Sharm el Sheick safely, i.e. not with a reliable reserve in the tanks.

So we decided to divert to Aswan (Assuan) for a technical landing. As expected, Cairo asked for our diplomatic clearance for Aswan, wich we could give him instantaneously as we were convinced, our permission provided by FSI must have been a diplomatic one.

On the ground, we were hit not by lightning, but by the heat. 45° in the shadow, but there was no shadow on the apron, no huidity. We became exausted within minutes, still beeing a rest of sick form the last diner , and for shure having taken by far too few water to recover.

Difficult negocitions with egyptian „authorities" and the the realbad news: Holger had broken the starbord our fillig cap (of the long range tanks). Of course he had not meant to, just material weakening. Nevertheless a no go item, if not fit.

No Egypt air maintenance facility, nobody on the apron, except us, .... and a super old BAC 1-11, operted by Memphis Airand with three souls underneath, working on the gear.

We went to see them and came to learn, that the plane was registeredin Rumenia, and the three were Memphis Air mechanics, used to repair hydraulic tubes by means of a needle and some sutures, Rumenian style.

It took them ¾ of an hour, after that our cap was fit together, using a stainless steel splint they had in their pocket.

Another domestic 1 hour flight, and wearrived at our final destination of the day, Sharm el Sheick, HESH at sunset.

The shuttle was already waiting, and the Ritz Carlton prooved to be the best hotel in town.

Next day a trip on the boat to three of the finest diving areas in the region, if not in the world, and snorcheling like in Düsseldorf s Aqua Zoo. Friday morning back to the airport and only with the helpof the Egypt Air station manager walk to our aircraft without any handing agent at all..

Initially N46PW inteded to depart for Mikonos LGMK, two others to Alexandria to refuel AVGAS, but ufortunately we faced some dammed mismatching indications of our fuel managament computer, tanks and fuel flow, so that we decided to make another technical stop in Alex HEAX, what we hated, because we knew the trouble to be expected.

As a matter of fact, noting was wrong, probably the extreme heat had influenced our technique but we lost 1,5 hs.

Mykonos appeared not only to beanother country, but as well another continent, another culture in another decade. Even the WC in the BP small building was like new in contrast to everything we had faced in Afrika.

We transmitted the connecting flightplan from Pula LDPL to Düsseldorf and off we went. From now onwards with continous 30 to 40 Knots headwind until reaching EDDL. And, in Pula, the flightplan was not available. After having filde a new flight plan, ETD and CTOT differer by two hours considering a flow problem in EDDF airspace.

Düsseldorf AIS did a really good job, as usual in the last 12 months!!. An hour later, we got start up clearnce and after another three hours flight with worderful visibility in dawn over the alps, we landed at a quarter past midnight in EDDL, where a small reception committee was waiting for us with a bottle of champagne.

That was it: 52 hours of flight time and nothing but a rotten lamp in our electronic HSI

Not bad, isn t it?

© MMIG46 e.V.