On a plastic box over Victoria Falls

//On a plastic box over Victoria Falls

On a plastic box over Victoria Falls

It was an early morning in September back in 1999 and the sun was already shining on our aircraft. It was parked right in front of the tower and the door was open.

A small stair invited me to the cabin. Once inside I prepared my camera equipment, placed them in the front row seat while the cockpit crew prepared the aircraft for our departure.
One of the friendly girls in the crew gave me a hot cup of coffe to enjoy while I waited. Sipping the coffe I looked out the window of this HS748.

Today’s assignment was a flight from WDK (Windhoek, Namibia) to LUN (Lusaka, Zambia) via VFA (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe). As I was working with Air Namibia, I didn’t expect this flight to be with a HS748, but Air Namibia had leased this Executive Aerospace HS748 with registration ZS-NWW for a few months. No problem for me as it was my first time in a HS748 and a new type for my flightlog.

The ride out to the airport from central Windhoek took us straight through the flat African landscape. Looking through the dirty windows from our crew buss I saw the monkeys sitting by the edge of the road looking back at me.
The bus was full of Air Namibia crew, all going out to work. To me it seemed like everybody knew each other since childhood.
Everyone was cheering and laughing, talking and discussing.

I have no clue of their topic as I don’t speak the native language, but I loved listening to their laughs.
Not many people are riding to work in such a good mood as these people. A great way to start my day.

When the crew was ready I entered the cockpit and sat down in the jumpseat. It was a pretty tight space for me, but still enough room for me to set up and move a little.
When I was seated I looked up and looked around. Oh, gee… This is a low spot. No matter how much I tried I couldn’t look outside the window. I was too low! Oh, perfect.

Passengers were already boarding and the captain prepared engine starts. I unbuckled again and tried to stand up a little. It looked like I was 30-40 centimeters too low.
The captain saw me and asked if there was a problem. I explained the situation for him and he called for the purser. Luckily she found a big blue plastic box that I turned upside down and on my seat. It fitted pretty good on the seat, and I sat down on it. With my legs down on each side of it, my feet touched the floor.

A quick glance forward provided a good view of the apron outside. Ah, perfect! Now I can see and film the takeoff and landing. Captain asked if it was ok, and I confirmed.

Yes, no problem I said. The first officer called up and received startup clearance. The 2 props started turning and whining outside as I adjusted my headset and recording levels on the camera. With a good view out the window we started taxy for takeoff and flight SW144 was on it’s way.

We reached the holding point just at the same time as the blue plastic box under me started to get very uncomfortable. Those corners were hard! Ouch… Time for departure and my focus was on the crew and the camera.

Captain increased to takeoff thrust and we started our takeoff roll. v1…rotate and we were airborne. A quick glance back at Windhoek airport as we turned to the east for our destination. The HS748 climbed pretty slowly up to our cruising altitude. I wrote down the flight details so far, aircraft type: HS748, airline: Executive Aerospace, registration: ZS-NWW and takeoff time: 07:55 zulu time.

When I was served a snack my rear was complaining loudly about the blue plastic box under me. Jumpseats are normally not the best seats in the aircraft but I never complain, sometime to the cockpit crews surprise. But this time it was different. I finished my meal and continued to film.

We started our descent and reached VFA approach. First officer called tower and we were cleared to land. A smooth landing in the Zimbabwian heat and we taxied to our stand next to a Air Zimbabwe 737-200.

we parked next to this Air Zimbabwe B737-200 at VFA – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Captain opened his window and we felt the heat from the outside.
Finally a chance for me to get out of the jumpseat. We landed at 10:22 zulu time so my rear had been stuck on that hard box for over 2.5 hours!
And we were only done with the first quarter of our legs today. Gee, sweet!
A walk on the apron provided some nice shots of the local aircraft, many I never had seen before.

walked over and photographed this Air Zambezi DC-3 ZS-NTD, named “Southern Belle”

At 11:15 we took off again and maintained a low altitude flight towards the nearby Victoria Falls. As the right hand side window was the best on this aircraft I asked to a right hand circle over the falls for the best shots.

Captain cleared our plans with ATC and we proceeded in over the falls. Unfortunately it was pretty low water levels in the Zambesi river that time of year, but the captain said it was actually a good thing for me.
When the water levels are high there is so much water falling down that it gets like cloudy over the falls and view wouldn’t have been as good as today.

We came in over the falls at 1000 feet and started a slow right turn to complete our circle. Magnificant view! Amazing.

I worked hard to avoid the worst bumps but it was tough to get steady footage in that turbulence. I think we completed 3 complete turns over the falls before we headed out for Lusaka, our destination.

We touched down in Lusaka at 12:39 and let me tell you I needed that break. After almost 5 hours of flying on that hard plastic box my rear was screaming for a break.
A walk around the Lusaka ramp made me forget the pain for a while. Especially when I saw the Phoebus Apollo DC-4 ZS-PAI parked on the edge of the apron. What a beauty!!!

Walked over and watched as they loaded her with cargo. Fruit of all sorts. Had a chat with the crew and then they closed up and prepared for takeoff.

Phoebus Apollo DC-4 ZS-PAI as she is taxying for takeoff at LUN – Lusaka, Zambia

The sound when they started her up was fantastic. Lovely! 4 big props turning and those piston engines on idle thrust, can it get better ?
Watched as she took off and then walked back for our flight back to Windhoek, and my plastic box to sit on.
Rotated at 13.20 zulutime and as we climbed out of Lusaka and turned for Victoria falls again I made the ride as comfortable as possible.
We arrived back at Windhoek at sunset and the approach lights greeted us as we turned for final.

As we parked I made a note in my flight log: touched down at 17:53, major pain in the ***.

Walked out of the terminal and looked for the crew bus, time to ride back with the lovely happy crews again. I always love a good laugh!

By |2018-09-27T14:39:27+00:002005-12-16|Aviation|0 Comments

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