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Forum Home > 2017 Vacation - Making The Cut > 2017 Vacation Day 5

GA Pilot
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Posts: 8545

EPOCH 2017 Botswana Okavango Delta Vacation

DAY 5 (Final)

"This Is What I Signed Up For!"

This is one Vacation Day that will be memorable enough to relate to friends and family when you get back to Alaska... but really, who knows when that might be! This is where it all comes together - your love of flying a variety of craft, your love of adventure and a bit of risk-taking, your love of seeing new terrain and scenery and finally, if you are so bold, your love of an iconic old aircraft ... to the point of perhaps not returning to cold ol' Alaska for a while yet!

This, being the final Vacation Day in our 2017 EPOCH Adventures, is a little bit longer and more involved than the last 4 have been. All in all, expect a solid 4+ hours of flying fun, split into 4 distinct parts. Part One sends you on a lovely cross-country flight to one of the natural wonders of the world. Part Two gives you some serious thrills while there. Part Three, the 'Reprise', sends you off to another amazing scenic area and Part Four, the 'Bonus Escape', is sure to put a grin on many faces.

Lastly, before I give it all away here instead of slowly rolling it out for your pleasure, you will need to download one additional custom scenery package that is optional but adds to the overall immersion.

Let's get on with the descriptions then, shall we?

Part One:

We start off at Maun of course, but this time the company is giving us access to the last one of their standard fleet, the Cessna 210 Turbo Centurion, and sending us off on a sightsee with a husband and wife adventure team. We have a bit of a hop ahead of us, but the 210 is more than up to the task, having a cruise speed of around 190 knots. Given that the direct flight is about 180 nautical miles, that puts you over destination in an hour from wheels up. So where are we going, you ask?

That, my friends, is Victoria Falls, on the Zambezi River. The world's largest sheet of falling water. The place where famous African explorer David Livingstone proclaimed "...so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight."

So bring your tourists up to the falls, do a couple of slow fly-overs for pictures, and then land at Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe to prepare for the second and far more technically interesting part of the flight day. Turn the Centurion over to the rampies and walk a few steps to that amphibious craft sitting there saying 'Fly me, fly me'!

SCENERY DOWNLOAD (Optional but aligns well, though older version)


Depart Maun for Victoria Falls. Flyover. Land Victoria Falls.

Aircraft:   Cessna Turbo Centurion CT210M (or equivalent).

Real METAR    2 pax (340#) / Cargo (80#)   Today's Date   Time = 1000 Local

Depart FBMN Maun.    Flyover Victoria Falls.   Land FVFA Victoria Falls.

Hdg: 061°M.    Enroute Altitude ~ 9,500'ASL.    Viewing Altitude (Minimum) = 1,000'AGL   VFR

Part Two:

The DeHavilland Beaver is one of the most iconic old bushplanes that the world has ever known. There, sitting right in front of you, is a lovely and well-cared-for refurbished workhorse just waiting for you to flip a few blades past the window and 'roll some coal' out of the powerful 600 horsepower radial engine.

Being adventurers, the husband and wife have negotiated with OK Delta Air for a real thrill. They want to land on the water above the falls, which is not such a big feat as long as one keeps well back from the edge and doesn't let the current deal you a bad hand.

But they then, upon departure from the high parts of Victoria Falls, want to land in the water below the falls, for pictures and the sheer fun of doing it. Well, it's not them doing it... it's you! You will find that the river itself isn't really the issue, it is the massive cliffs on either side and the undulating course that one must follow to get down on the water. The closer you can get to the falls whilst at the bottom, the higher your tip is bound to be!

Make sure to grab a few pictures of yourself on the water above and below as well, to share with your friends at EPOCH! So, a gentle departure from the river and back to the airport.

Depart Victoria Falls Airport for the Falls. Flyover. Land Zambezi River (above and below).

Aircraft:   DeHavilland Beaver Amphibian.

Real METAR   2 pax (340#) / Cargo (80#)   Today's Date   Time = 15 mins. after landing from Maun

Depart FVFA Victoria Falls.   Flyover/O-A Landings Victoria Falls.   Land FVFA Victoria Falls.

Viewing Altitude (Minimum) = 1,000'AGL    VFR

Part Three:

Back in Victoria Falls Airport, it is now time to switch back to the Centurion and finish off the flight. You and your passengers have 3 choices at this point. You can head directly back to Maun in the early afternoon light, you can take a divert to see one of the beautiful natural features of Botswana - sort of on the way, or you can overnight at VF and carry on next day. The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and a large mineral works "mine" in the DIVERT area is worthy of the trip if you want to hold off until tomorrow (like the NightFliers shall).

Here is the SkyVector flight plan for help in finding your way:


If you or your passengers would like to land at Sowa Pan, the airport is very well maintained, and paved, as it serves local industry. A small concession there will serve up cafeteria food and a local tour operator will take you all to the salt works for a walking tour. Then its back to Maun before day's end!

Depart Victoria Falls for Sowa Pan. Flyover a/o Land. Depart for / Land Maun.

Aircraft:   Cessna Turbo Centurion CT210M (or equivalent).

Real METAR    2 pax (340#) / Cargo (80#)   Today's Date   Time = 15 minutes after landing in Victoria Falls

Depart FVFA Victoria Falls.   To (Land/Depart) FBSN Sowa Pan.   Land FBMN Maun.

Hdg: 182°M then 293°M.   Enroute Altitude ~ 9,500'ASL.   Viewing Altitude (Minimum) = 1,000'AGL   VFR

Part Four:

So, picture this. You have just parked the Cessna 210 in one of the GA slots available at Maun. As you stand there, just in front of the aircraft, you cast a look to your right... at the line of old DC-3s, one of which you had flown in not that long ago, sitting there. Are they calling your name?

Well, you can turn left and head for the tent to pack up and go get your commercial ticket to fly Air Botswana to Jo'Burg and American Airlines back to the States or....

You can turn left and head for the tent to pack up and then go and preflight your DC-3 to finish delivery up to the Congo. But they might want you to stay and work there for a while! Just sayin'.

If you choose the Congo...

then you will be flying to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It's a fair haul in the DC-3 - especially the first leg. You will travel northwest from Maun to Luanda, a distance of just under 900 nautical miles. Then, after refueling, it is off to the north by northeast to Kinshasa, another 300 nm. All up, you are looking at about 9 hours in the air on a very good day. Here is the SkyVector flight plan:


Of course once you get there, they may convince you to stay for a while and fly into some of the bush villages with overloads of cargo! The DRC, formerly Zaire, is a very large country, so you might base elsewhere other than in the west, but there are strips around that are established... not just roads with dual use.

Anyhow, if this is "your cup of tea" and you want to wrap up your African Vacation Experience in fine flying style, then here are two scenery packages for you to download. The first is for Kinshasa, which you need for the first landing of your DC-3. The second covers a number of bush strips in DRC as well as one of the hubs on the other side of the country. They are both older scenery packages but should work well nonetheless.




Thanks for flying with EPOCH Alaska Air and I hope that everyone has had a great vacation as well as learning new things about the aircraft, scenery and flying techniques/requirements in our favourite flight simulator - X-Plane!




6 strings, 9 cylinders, 2 Manx cats: Life's Good!

December 2, 2017 at 11:51 AM Flag Quote & Reply

GA Pilot
Site Owner
Posts: 8545

"Go ahead punk... make my day!"

Okay, well, that's the way I felt when I was trying to squeeze the Shade Tree Beaver between those massive cliff walls in the Zambezi River Gorge, downstream of Victoria Falls. Wow!

Ultimately, I had a wonderful flight up to FVFA and then the hops around the falls (which sadly are missing - well, waterfall) but the landings in the water above and below made up for it. Fun times - oh... and the Centurion is an awesome ride - we marvelled at how beautifully detailed the Carenado model is!

Thanks to gofigure, Rocky and CptTroll for another exciting NightFlight. Cheers gents, and I'll see you guys back at Maun. Tent party tomorrow evening and there will be solvent available (no silly - to clean your hands) for when you're done preflighting your DC-3. Because... who can resist eh? :D




6 strings, 9 cylinders, 2 Manx cats: Life's Good!

December 3, 2017 at 1:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1735

My stylish steed for today's flight ...orange you glad as me to see her?

Aloft at 9,500 ASL, the weather is practically perfect...

If you've ever wondered why I don't answer you back right away...

Now, where's my second thermos of tea?

Our first look at the Zambezi River gorge...

Victoria Falls as represented by X-Plane 10.51...

Air tour over, we're on short final back into FVFA Victoria Falls...

The happy couple are so excited to see the Beaver, that they spend several minutes taking Selfies. Meanwhile, Chengelo the Mechanic looks like he has some bad news to tell me.

Difficulties with both the STMA and SMS Beavers kept me from continuing the flight back to the Falls with the group. But, I will try again as soon as Chengelo gets my Beaver sorted out.

December 3, 2017 at 6:55 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1735

Well ol' Chengelo the Mechanic came through for us, although he claimed the solution related more to Juju than replacement parts...

Animals on the asphalt necessitated a premature rotation...

Dropping in to land alongside the Falls...

Trusting that Misters Pratt and Whitney will provide the power to get us airborne before that sloping bank does...

Successfully aloft again, we planned/executed our approach into the gorge: turn right, then touch down quick.

Down without drama, and the dramatic sights seen, I motorboated the Beaver around the chicane, then started the takeoff...

We broke free of the surface, but there wasn't much room left for the climb-out...

The wonder of Victoria Falls begged the inquiring couple to learn more, so we diverted to FLLI Livingstone so that they could absorb the contents of the Livingstone Museum...

A few hours later we headed back to FVFA to close this fine flying day.

December 3, 2017 at 7:56 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1735

Got a full day, plus, flying today. I'm tagging this PIREP as Parts 4 & 5 of the Day 5 events.

Pulling out of FVFA Victoria Falls with the happy couple on board...

Love that paint job...

We see the immense Sowa/Sua Pan ahead...

With such good weather to make the flying go faster, we opted to take a short break at the private FBSN Sua Pan Airport. A little while later we were back in the air, heading west toward Maun. Weather remained very nice.  I think that red area is suppose to represent the Ash Plant.

Back at now-beloved FBMN Maun, the happy couple proceed with their baggage and memories to the passenger terminal. Meanwhile, I cleanup the Centurion one last time and take a quick look at tomorrow's ride parked nearby...
One more night in that PITA tent!

December 4, 2017 at 10:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1735

Consider this flight accomplished the next virtual day after Day 5, although I'm tagging it as Parts 6 & 7.

After saying goodbye to the many new friends that I made in and around Maun, I loaded my stuff into the craft that the locals have dubbed Boipelo. It was just myself and some miscellaneous parts to create the payload of just 409 pounds. But, the fuel tanks were filled to the brim, providing over seven and a half hours of endurance. It turned out that I needed most of it to get to Kinshasa.

It wouldn't be Maun without a Goodbye Wildlife Incursion...

A long dull ride, until the terrain below started undulating. It soon gave way to coastal plain.

Approaching FNLU Luanda's runway 5 after some in-and-out of the few clouds lurking around 2000 feet...

After a short break (no additional fuel was loaded, since 3.8 hours remained) the takeoff and climb were quickly curtailed at 1500 feet with the METAR now reporting 800 Scattered and 2800 Broken with visibility dropping from 10 to 5 nm. Plan B was activated, consisting of following the coastline up to the mouth of the Congo River.

Approaching the new intermediate waypoint, I began the procedure popularized at EPA (EPOCH Passage Aviation) known as "IFR" or "I Follow Rivers".

Do you know what "EPA" really stands for? Extended Pilot Angst ...and I've had plenty of EPA in British Columbia, and now I was getting some in Africa after being spoiled by the previous days' great weather. While the ceiling remained low for some time, it did finally lift nicely at about 160 miles to go to Kinshasa...

Only to be followed by a light rain, with frequent lightning for added effect...

After a long slog through the slop at about 1000 AGL, I finally made it to FZAA Kinshasa, and the rain cooperatively ceased at this point...

There was quite the eclectic collection of aircraft at KZAA...

And they are now joined by another aging classic that refuses to stop being a valuable tool...

Remaining fuel at shutdown was 1.8 hours. Total cross-country time from FBMN to FZAA was 8.1 hours.

This had to be the most immersive sim-flight I've ever had. The last leg's 210-miles up the Congo River under low clouds and in the rain was amazing. When I finished and shutdown my simpit, it was 10 PM in real-life. I chewed up a lot of time flying today.

Thanks for another awesome adventure BC! I would never have considered flying in this region without your inspiration.

December 4, 2017 at 11:29 PM Flag Quote & Reply

GA Pilot
Site Owner
Posts: 8545

So very cool Rocky. What an immersive report as well. I haven't even made it back to Maun yet, but hope to do that before the week ends. You have ignited my excitement to get the flight in to Kinshasa as well, so I'll be pushing for the time to do it!

Lovely paint job on your Centurion. I don't recognize it as anything I saw in my livery collection so I assume you did your usual amazing one-off for the flight. Great work!

Cheers and thanks for the note. I had as much fun putting it together as a 'Lite' package and now I want to flesh it in some more and see if I can get done before Christmas and offer it up as a Version 2. Fingers crossed.

I also note that you got your Beaver issue solved. I have another thing for you to try on your Beaver but will email you momentarily to give it a go :P




6 strings, 9 cylinders, 2 Manx cats: Life's Good!

December 5, 2017 at 3:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

GA Pilot
Site Owner
Posts: 8545

ah... Boipelo.

Admittedly, I was prepared for anything :P but found out that it means 'proud'.\

Great name for this craft for danged sure. Good work!




6 strings, 9 cylinders, 2 Manx cats: Life's Good!

December 5, 2017 at 3:50 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1735

@bc, That's not my paint job, it Leen de Jager's...


Dan Klaue also did a rendition...


I've posted a current list of available liveries to the Centurion locator page.

December 5, 2017 at 4:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

GA Pilot
Site Owner
Posts: 8545

Gotchya. Thanks Rocky :)




6 strings, 9 cylinders, 2 Manx cats: Life's Good!

December 6, 2017 at 3:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 3285

Part #3 flight to Victoria Falls to FBSN Sowa Pan and fly around the area was interesting. trip back to Maun was not a long one.

Part #4  Flight to FZAA Kinshasa was shortened by a very strong tail wind. Very nice airport scenery and the Kinshasa area looks a lot like hoe/Alaska, lots of water and trees.



December 8, 2017 at 7:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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