Friday, 18 January 2013

A new day dawns, time for a pre-flight

The light from the milky way was glorious, one could almost read by the brightness of the stellar lights, the air was cooling rapidly and starting to get chilly,  as I pulled the sheet around my neck.  Lying in my mosquito tent (to protect from scorpions and other things) looking upwards through the gauze counting the uncountable.  The gentle whisper & rustle of the desert winds through the date palms was a soothing lullaby...

Twilight was upon me as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, stretched, remembered where I was and sat up. The cool of the brand new day is truly wonderful in Africa.  I fumble with the zip on the canopy, check carefully that my flying boots were empty of any little visitors, in the dull morning light. Shave and freshen up, already the dawn's golden sun is lighting up the skyline. I took a short walk,  then saw if there was a cup of tea ready, as I could hear chatter, coughs and woodsmoke wafted across the little dirt courtyard, I was ready for the day. Well almost...

Already the morning air is warming up fast, it's a turbulent trip weaving around rocky outcrops on the moonscape before a wild ride over the yellow desert sands, as we head out to the aircraft which I had abandoned into the hands of some soldiers camped up for the night in the Sahara.

The pre-flight is essential  when you have a days flying ahead of you, even more so when the days work is going to take you over mountains, surely some of the roughest terrain in the world. You need to know the aircraft is at it's best, that all is well and it is ready for the day ahead.  So electrics, fuel oil, integrity of the aircraft structure are all checked at and all the bits of aircraft that should move - do, and those that shouldn't - don't.

Before I head out to the airstrip though I do need to do my own personal pre-flight yup teeth cleaned, hair combed well what is left of it and visit to the restroom/loo/hole in the ground. Then despite at times the temptation to skip it and press on, I take a short time out to collect my thoughts together. This I do in conjunction with 'The Manual', a compact book that I have found really useful and enjoyable (available from CVM or Amazon), it has a short undated thought for the day, a simple prayer and it's just part of my pre-flight. 

I also keep a 'moleskin' journal that I jot down any thoughts that might be worth returning to at a later date, along with the Manual, I have a nifty little Gideon's New Testament. Essential tools for any man* to have in his flight bag, along with my charts and other other useful stuff.

So trust you enjoyed todays blog, travel well.

* or woman, you may want to find a different set of thoughts for the day


  1. Bryan, yet another great post, thank you. Your comment about checking boots reminded me of an incident which happened when I was serving in the outback in Australia. The incident taught me the importance of checking 'the pit'. An Australian soldier serving with me ended up with a highly venomous Brown Snake attached to his nether regions. Apparently this is not too uncommon and whilst looking into the void is an unpleasant experience:-( it is far less unpleasant than the alternative;-) Fortunately the person concerned made a full recovery.

  2. Enjoyed this, Bryan! Impressively thorough pre flight, cant remember having to do all that when I was flying Caravans.

    Did you know that the best way to see scorpions at night is by using a UV light, whereupon they glow blue. When I have done it in desert areas Ive been startled at how many there are. And yes, John is right, definitely check the "long drop" carefully.
    Richard Pollard

  3. Hi Bryan,

    A preflight in 1 minute and 6 seconds......Wauw! Good reading up on you
    Have a nice flight.

    Herman van Heuvelen (van Hooligans)