Going Zulu.....
In March 2017, Revazur team went south, really south…!  
 Everything started by a small chat during a bus ride, you know this little conversation to spend time.  
My colleague Andrew and I were overnighting in the middle of nowhere in the sea of sand called Sahara. 
 As said, Sahara provides you a lot of emotions, this has to be true… 
 Lights on, cameras, action!  
 Andrew is a fellow South african pilot who deserves to be met, always seeing the positive side of life, an outgoing person, ready for any kinds of jokes. He loves to fly anything could leave the mother earth. Very knowledgeable person. He has in bank a lot of stories to keep you dreaming or  laughing about in front of a camp fire, a glass of wine, or a cigar!  
 So we were planning to visit him and do a flying safari in South Africa in an ultralight airplane (EASA speaking).  
 Here starts the differences between European and South African mindset: Ultralight category doesn’t exist strictly speaking, they talk about Light Sports Aircraft (LSA), who are limited to 600kgs.  
Right on the ICAO definition. For Southern Africans our Ultralight is more Microlights category.  
 The trade off is they do have a medical exam and a radio license. No worries, all are pretty easy and straightforward to obtain.  
 Count 3 business days to get your light sports aircraft license to be processed in Johannesburg then you are golden to fly any LSA under RSA registration. This will provide you a lot more liberty than our actual system.

(We went deep south this time)
So here we are, Johannesburg! 
After our 10h+ flight from Paris. Andrew picked us up by car and drove us to his place. A nice Bed and Breakfast called “Periwinkle Cottage” in Clarens, Free state.  
First day is spent to set ourselves at ease and discover the surroundings. We are close to Golden Gate National park, the getaway to Lesotho and outdoor activities for Afrikaners (in large terms). 

(On the horizon, you could see Lesotho state)
(Goldeb Gate National park)
Second day we runned the south african license process… We went to the local flight school at the airfield of Bethlehem.  
Yes you read it right!, this is Bethlehem, not the Catholic one, the southern hemisphere’s one!  
Ask Andrew to tell you the story!  
In the morning, we did our skill test: basic navigation, local orientation and procedures, stalls, steep turns, dead engine landing, circuit patterns, etc… A real country introduction.  
Later in the afternoon, we did few mock exams for the next day air law exam.  
Next day we took the air law exam and processed the papers, after a couple of hours, you are issued a nice orange LSA license with all necessities to enjoy what this part of the world could offer.  
A nice flight to enjoy this was mandatory, so we did! Just to polish our skills.  
From Kitangi to Bethlehem and back…  
All aircrafts are set, cameras fixed, water for crew, charts and GPS ready. 
Bethlehem (FABM) to Battlefield lodge (1h45)  
We got airborne and cruising at 6500’ on the clock, only 1000’ above the ground with an almost 30°C outside temperature!  
For us European fellow aviators, we need to drill this in our minds… “density altitude, high and hot, performances concerns, etc… We don’t play at home.  
The surroundings landscape are amazing, you don’t think you are at almost 2000m above the sea, you would expect high mountains, snow, peaks, etc, nope, nada… flat lands, mesa, and up to behind horizon crop field and prairies. You could already spot some “boks”… from springboks to wildebeest or some Ostriches running.  
Then a high range of rocks (7500’) to pass and you’ll loose a 1000’ altitude, green pastures, and cities are coming in and out… the deck is still at 4500’.

(Green pastures, farms, and wildlife, Andrew will teach you some tips for emergencies here)
(Mesa at 7500’, outside temperature around 28-30°C)  
Don’t forget this, when you think performances)
Then, we approached this place called Battlefield.  
A nice place nested on a elevation at 4500’, with a grass green runway who are a pleasure to land on.
(The parking area is like a typical golf green)
We stopped there for lunch, the place by itself is worth for a night-stop. 
For the french people it will be a little chunk of their history.  
This is where the Prince Imperial, Louis Napoleon great nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte died in 1879 facing Zulu warriors.  
For military history freak or all other passionate about history, battles etc… you could enjoy the visit of lots of places there.  
So we were sitting in a nicely attended restaurant, with a view on the savannah around, full of zebras and ostriches gazing, taking a sip with a welcomed fish and chips dish. I won’t tell you how much they charged for this moment, but let me tell you one thing: if you got cheaper anywhere else in Europe for the same thing (3 dishes, 3 drinks, smiles and services), I will reimburse you the difference… and I mean it! 

                                                 (Battlefield Lodge garden, view from the terrace of the restaurant) 

Battlefield to Uzibane Lodge (1h30)  
We took off again and we set course to Uzibane Lodge, a first glance of what is bush lifestyle.  
We overflew Zulu land, another different landscape, more “African” in a way, red dirt, Tatched houses, villages, dirt tracks, few roads, hilly terrains, forest, etc...  
Engine failure could be of a concern if you don’t plan ahead. 

The flight was uneventful and we got our mind in full download mode from the view we got.  
After almost one hour and a half, we approached Uzibane.  
Andrew was leader and landed in front of us, informing that a little herd of zebras was crossing the north end of runway. We had to take care of it.  
This is a major threat here and it differs from Europe. We are tolerated by wildlife, we are their hosts, not the other way around.  
Turning base giraffes were visible close to the runway, no time to shoot a picture, but it remains a close souvenir and a remainder for what comes next!

We landed safely, parked the aircraft for the night, and checked in in time for the game drive.  
30 min from cockpit to sitting in a comfortable 4X4 overlooking at giraffes, zebras, impalas, and all other animals living around. After 2 hours drive, we stopped for a drink in the bush. Back just before the night settled in, we headed to our hootch and took a shower, dressed up for the dinner and enjoyed a relaxing evening full of charms and for some a nice glass of red wine instead of a yellow fever tree cocktail!  
Time to go to bed, tomorrow will be another exciting day!  
Early morning, monkeys barking awaked us, they were a few meters in front of us in the facing branches.  
We got ready and aimed for breakfast.

Andrew had to go downtown to got the fuel, we spent the time wandering around the lodge.  
Just before departing, we saw a few meters in front of us a herd or nyalas with cubs and zebras.  
2 impalas were fighting together.  
After refueling, we briefed the “highlights” of the day.  
Our plan is to take off and fly in close formation towards Saint Lucia bay, passing over the mangrove and then turn northbound to follow the shoreline up to Mozambique border and then turn west to reach our destination “Tembe Elephant Park Lodge”.  
Uzibane to Tembe Elephant Lodge (1h).  
Once airborne, we closed in to Andrew, we made him leader and we trusted him blindly.  
The flight conditions were amazing, calm air initially, unlimited visibility, we were buzzing on low level over the mangrove, aiming to the shoreline we could see on the horizon.  
Closing in we needed to climb a little to pass the little range and then the scenery was astounding.  
Crystal clear blue waters with some shades of deep green. Waves, infinite white sand beach, alone in the world!  
We stayed close to our leader, I was working hard and get the rust off of my formation skills learned a long time ago.

We passed over a beach full of surfers and people enjoying a day at the beach, then we offset our course inland to overfly the open bush.  
Our formation got loose, as Andrew had different coordinates than ours. (Note for later, make sure you’ve got both the same coordinates)  
Anyway, weather was just fine, even if the warm air started to rock our wings a little more than “comfortable” now. 
We saw our destination, Andrew went first, as we didn’t have the same speed, we didn’t manage to come in for the break overhead the runway.  
Turning on downwind, we saw some wildlife under our wings. Turning on base leg we spot an elephant wandering close to the airfield.  
Final, landing like a kiss… here we are!  
The welcoming team was right there, Tom the lodge manager and one of his ranger.  
We parked the aircrafts inside the “Elephants free fences” then we sat in the big 4X4 and got a ride to the lodge, time to relax.

(The staff was standing in front of us and started singing a  
welcome song, pretty overwhelming feeling)
We checked in and settled ourself at ease in our tent.  
Andrew had an Elephant visiting him close to his quarter.  
I enjoyed a shower and I was still under adrenalin, that was a flight!  
Andrew and I headed to the pool before the lunch, I started to cool down and get relaxed, what a life!  
Then we ate the lunch, a short nap and we went for the evening game ride.  
We spotted some giraffes, nyalas, impalas, zebras, one lone elephant invited himself for the drinks in the open savannah, all people had to got back in the car until he passed few meters from us… apparently the whiskey was not his brand!

Back at home for diner, we spent the rest of the evening in a total relaxed way. 
Next morning, early wake up for the morning game. We spotted some mammals and stopped at a water pit to enjoy the view of 3 lions cubs with the mother. Elephant and birds around.  
Back at the pool by 10 AM, enjoying bush lifestyle.  
One day rest is nice after this 3 flying days, especially in the middle of the bush, no contact with human pollution. Your mind is free to wander and you can concentrate on resourcing yourself.  
Christine took a bush massage, and bought a tailored T-shirt and Bermuda with tribe’s patterns cloth.  
The evening game ride was the highlight of the stay, after 2 hours not seeing anything, we stopped at the water pit, it was sunset time, wildlife had a meeting... 
… We sat there, starting our drinks when a giraffe pass in front of us in order to get herself a sip in the water. This is when the 3 lions cubs decided to hone their hunting skills, chasing her around our car. It was like in a cartoon, giraffe turning around us followed by the cubs, then an Elephant showed, he is the boss here… he decided to charge over the lions who flees towards their mother.  
Changing his mind, he turned back and started to drink and play with water, giraffe who had some relief pass on the other side of the pond and had a chance to drink. A big fish eagle passed over the crowd in silence. All within 5 to 10 minutes.

We felt pretty blessed to witness this moment. “a normal day at the office in the bush” as our ranger said.  
Next day, we had to start our journey home.  
All staff sang another tribe’s song who went deep in my person, I was a little sad and dazed.  
Weather forecast said thunderstorms and CBs in the afternoon. So we decided to fly back to Bethlehem in one day instead of 2, It should be a long day of flying. 
Tembe to Hluhluwe Airfield (1h)  
Christine and I planned to follow a river down to Hluhluwe for fuel. Andrew would go straight upfront in order to get fuel. When we landed, we had the chance to visit the anti poaching wing base. We discovered a south african light sport aircraft used by them to spot the poachers. The Bush cat!  
I want to fly one!  
These guys do a hard job, and they deserve all respect. In a way, I would love to serve for a noble cause like this in my spare time… South Africa syndrome! I’m biased, I fell in love for this country a long time ago.  
Hluhluwe to Battlefield (1h30), then Battlefield to Bethlehem (2h00)  
Back to business, we fueled up and said goodbye to all, I felt we leave friends behind.  
In order to save time, we planned to fly to Battlefield again, as we know the place and Andrew did an awesome job to organize all, on the spot. We were there, fuel, restaurant (open just for us), then we went again heading full west… we could spot big thunderstorm and CBs in front, we will passed the high range without damage, but it was close… we got some rain showers.

We finally landed back in FABM just when a heavy CB broke and poured his water over us, we had to stop on the taxiway and wait until it stop to get out of the Savannah to put him back in his hangar!  
We got soaked even inside the plane, the rain was so intense!  
We made it back, Mission accomplished! 
We unloaded your stuff and headed back to Andrew’s place. After a nice down time, we sadly started to pack our luggage for the way back home… this raises my eyebrow, which home?  
I am at home here… 
Guys, I had to come back in Europe to wrote this report and gave you my thoughts.  
Here is what I think:  
• Flying down there in South Africa must be in all pilot bucket list.  
• Bear in mind, the overall geographic situation is different from Europe or some part of USA, weather patterns, density altitude, . performances, etc…  
• Don’t be shy, people are like their flag, full of colors and happy fellows.  
• It will be a lifetime experience and you will never regreets any seconds down there!  
Feels a little bit challenging?  
Try it for real, you will increase your overall knowledge of aviation and push your limits.  
Aviation wise, it will be a before and an after for sure.  
You will look at aviation matters differently after that experience. Special mention to European aviators. You will feel what freedom of flight can really mean!  
South african skies offer you a great deal of freedom, even greater than USA in a way, but in other way, they make you fully responsible for your acts. Getting alone without assistance on great distance over some remote area (it is a BIG country) needs to fully understand the concept of “What if ?”  
If you don’t feel to do it alone, no worries, Andrew will be your man, from leading you to providing any kinds of assistance. You could even ask for a safety pilot or an instructor.  
Andrew is your best asset, he could organize your trip “as per request”  
Last word: bring your partner with you, this will tighten the bond, leave unforgettable memories!  
Any questions, please contact us:  
Back to Europe, your faithfully RevAzur team is working on the next project… stay tuned!  
“Dust Off 35”