Wednesday, January 20, 2010

African Cockpit Experience

So…flying in the cockpit was amazing!!! The air hostess came back to tell us that Nat wanted to stay in the front a bit longer & she’d let me know when I could go to the front. That brat! She acted like she didn't want to ride in the front and now won't give it up! Ha. About 20 mins before landing it was finally my turn. We swapped seats and before I knew it I was strapped in (like a baby car seat) with the special headset on. Very cool. The guys, I mean pilots, Mark and Mark were awesome. Once I was settled we had a great chat as we flew over the mountains in the eastern Cape. It was absolutely stunning outside, mountains to the right and the sea to our left, well, when the clouds cleared a bit the sea was visible. We chatted about Africa, what we'd done so far on the trip, how this was their 3rd of 5 or was it 6? Flights today. Captain Mark has been flying 22 years and I felt very safe riding up front and landing with these two. Co-pilot Mark was cracking me up, he must get a bit bored because when they had to call out landing coordinates etc he'd make funny accents and voices to entertain himself. As we were coming into land at George another pilot radio’d in 'hi, we are leaking a bit of fuel over the wilderness (which I later found out is a town/area we flew over) can you clear us to land? We are turning back now, 6 passengers on board.' my pilots pointed out how calm the guy was, and let me know there'd be fire trucks etc. when we landed just in case. They asked if I’d ever ridden in the cockpit before...I don't think I have, but I'm sure I've been up front or close enough in one of JJ's planes. Or was I too lazy? Oh well I've def done it now and it was awesome. We also talked about how in America I’d never be able to ride up-front, or even England, because these strict countries have so many rules. They've got that right and I must say I do like the chilled out vibe in Africa. Heck at the petrol station people young and old walk around barefoot!

So after a short, but sweet, ride in the pit we safely (well they!) landed in George. When the let me out Nat, Justin and I took a few pics in front of the plane and Nat and I enjoyed a bit of a high from the amazing experience, all thanks to Justin!

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