• Come And Visit Africa

    Come And Visit Africa

    By Bastian Blinten (9 March 2008)

    What are real flightsimmers doing in winter? When I talk of real simmers I mean those who always fly with real weather, real time and date. They are those who spend the whole winter watching the snow textures.

    Whenever they get tired of it, they don't just go to the menu and switch to summer. No, they will travel south to enjoy summer in the southern hemisphere. Now that I write this article it's almost it's in the middle of the winter season here, so this article of my series is about the black continent. It is an escape from the grey European winter to the sunny skies of Africa and, as you will see, a little snow.

    My intent is showing you my favorite sceneries which are very sparse on this continent. It is quite a forgotten place in FS probably owing to the fact that there are very few flightsimmers down there.

    Still there are two very active VATSIM online-flying-divisions, Kinshasa in DR Congo and South Africa. We will visit both locations.


    The journey starts in Aberdeen, Scotland with a beautiful evening flight to Algiers in Algeria. I cross the Mediterranean and descend toward the coast in an Airbus A320-200 a bit high and fast so I need the spoilers to lose some speed and altitude. What a pleasant sunset as I approach Houari Boumediene airport.

    The night will be a short one. As I told you, add-on sceneries in this part of the world are sparse so the next day there will be a long trip to a small airport, Tibati in Cameroon.

    For quite a while I am debating about which aircraft to take. Tibati has a short grass runway so any jet is out of the question. I need something slow enough for a short field but with a good range to cross the Sahara desert. After a while I decide to take my good old DC-3. The old lady won't make it non-stop and will have to make a stop at some rugged desert airstrip.

    I am leaving at four in the morning. The airport has an analog and digital clock that shows it will be a long day. I climb into the darkness and circle for a while until I have enough altitude to set course south across the Atlas mountains and the Sahara.

    Algeria is a big country and just as we cross the border to Niger I am getting low on fuel. I am still over the Sahara and I find that Iferouane will be a good place for my stop-over.

    As it turns out it is probably a miracle of FS standard mesh scenery that the grass runway (grass in the desert?) lies 200 feet lower than the rest of the place.

    As I reach the brim of that hole in the ground I am pushing the nose down for the final approach. The landing is easy as the DC-3 is very good natured.

    The climbout with full tanks is something else. I only barely make it across the brim. The rest of the flight is mostly uneventful. The engines run nice and smoothly and the GPS takes me to my destination. As I apporach Cameroon the scenery turns from brown to green and I enter the pattern at Tibati over a pleasant lake.

    The runway is pretty narrow for a DC-3. The next stop being Kinshasa I change the Gooney Bird for something modern... well, yes, the King Air is not the typical choice for rough runways but it is small and strong enough for the takeoff and it can make the distance fast and non-stop.

    As I increase power the trees at the end of the runway come rushing faster and faster towards me. I use full flaps for getting airborne early and get away in time.


    The airport at Kinshasa has beautiful African looks. There are two 707's and a DC-10 parked on the tarmac. The city lies at the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Congo. Both countries are divided be the river, well... Congo (formerly known as Zaire).

    The next leg is to the very south of Africa. During the steep climbout in a Learjet I have a look at the airport and the rusty hangars.

    Before climbing to cruising altitude we take a short glance at Kinshasa city with its city airport. On the other side of the river you see Brazzaville, Congo.

    To the right you have a beautiful look at the river.

    Next thing: a steep climb to FL 510.


    Well, not too much to see from up there.


    I arrive at Cape Town in the dark. The city is beautiful from high up. I land at the international airport. The first part of this trip was very fast crossing the continent from north to south in only four legs.

    Now for some fun flying. Let's go to Johannesburg a little low and fast.

    I am taxiing to the runway while a South African Express Dash-8 is waiting for its passengers.

    Low and fast! Great fun in this simulator. No afterburner this time but still supersonic. The burner would use too much fuel and prevent me from reaching my destination non-stop.


    Johannesburg: Nice city and a photorealistic airport. A little eye candy on the way.


    Slowing down for approach and landing.


    I enjoy watching the very well done airport before continuing south to Durban.

    This leg is short enough for a sunny ride in a Stearman.

    It is best flown from the virtual cockpit. The 2D eats up too much forward visibility. On the left you see Durban Int'l airport.


    The landing is very smooth and I taxi to parking beside some Cessna Caravans.

    Such a journey is a nice occasion to go through all my favourite aircraft. The next is the Canadair RJ200 Regional Jet.


    With a range of about 1600 nm it is a perfect short to medium airliner for 50 passengers. The flightsim version was designed by Project Open Sky and is perfect all round. Beside the beautiful exterior there is a great 3D cockpit. I added some additional 2D cockpit that was better than the one that came with the POSKY. There are quite a few available that don't affect the functionality of the virtual cockpit.


    I set course to the east across the Indian Ocean to Antananarivo, Madagascar.

    It is the perfect distance for the Canadair. I have no other jet that you can land as soft and easy so it is perfect for the relatively short runway at my destination.

    Madagascar welcomes me with a thunderstorm in the distance. It is not raining yet and the air is still calm so there is no trouble on landing.


    Okay, quite an unusual lineup of AI-aircraft in that part of the world.

    The next day I am going to discover some of the island in a Messerschmidt Bf108 the predecessor of the famous Bf109.

    It is a fully aerobatic 4 seater, a beauty and nice to fly.


    More thunderstorms on my trip to the north-east of the island. The weather clears up as I reach the coast.

    My add-on scenery contains many aircraft carriers. Quite funny for that part of the world.


    Let's go for a typical holiday destination. The Seychelles are well within the short range of Avro 85. The scenery by Colin Penney is one of my absolute favourites with lots of eye candy and lots of chances for island hopping. Given that this was his first scenery project it must be called a masterpiece!

    In FS the condensation trails show up at 30000 feet so I am flying a little high as the crusing altitude of the Avro is only 29000 feet.

    A first look at the islands. I am going to land at Seychelles Int'l on the main island.


    The runway is long enough for a long range B747 or A340. But now it's time for going slow and low.

    Bill and Lynn Lyons de Havilland Tiger Moth is still my favorite. I start with my float version EMMA.


    I take a tour around the bigger islands before setting course to the very small ones: Denis and Bird Island.

    It is getting dark so I tie my Tiger Moth to a pier. The journey continues in the wheeled EMIL.


    After a touch-and-go I return to the main island to have a closer look.


    Detailed mesh scenery, a little port and the return to the international airport.

    There is more eye-candy to come in two more countries I will visit. An American MD-95 takes us to Mwanza, Tanzania right at the lake shore of Lake Victoria.


    Thunderstorms will stick to me for most of the trip.

    It takes a while to find the Serengeti airstrip. It's a beautiful small scenery and as far as I remember there were herds of animals nearby. Let's take a look.


    Well, no elephants, lions or zebras but instead buffalos, cows and mooses. Maybe this is the simulator of the future. Who knows what the change in climate might bring?


    I am landing on the last drop of fuel. This beautiful piece of land gives me a pleasant rest. But it's not enough adventure for today. After refuelling I am setting east to the border of Kenia and Tanzania - Mount Kilimanjaro!


    After encountering more bad weather I climb above the clouds and soon have a beautiful view of the mountain and its snow cap.

    Today I'm trying something you wouldn't do in real life.

    I am checking the mountain top for a place to land. The airplane is at the verge of its maximum altitude so it's not gonna be easy. I must admit that I don't succeed on the first try but after a while I am successful and touch down on the snow just below the peak.

    Now for more unreal stuff. I do some mountain climbing in an aircraft. The Beaver is still strong enough to pull me up the rest of the mountain.

    I make it up to the peak. Well, little problem here. As I reduce the throttle, the engine dies. The air is a little thin and I don't succeed in getting it started again. Funny situation: flying and taxiing into such a place with no chance to take off again.

    I am cheating a little (hey why not?) and start pushing the aircraft "by hand". Well, no problem, it's just two yards and down we go along the mountainside. With a good amount of flaps the Beaver gets airborne quickly but proves to be a heavy glider. I manage to restart the engine at 16000 feet and continue my descent to Kilimanjaro International.

    Next leg. Say goodbye to Kilimanjaro from a Boeing 737-500.

    It's a short trip to the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

    I land at the nearby airport and take the helicopter for a closer examination.

    There is a road and rail bridge very close to the falls and it must be the design in FS doesn't allow me to fly under it.

    Well, my dirty little Bell 206 needs a good washing. Let's have a fly-through-heli-cleaning.

    Bright and polished hovering above the falls and back to the international airport.


    Enough Africa for now. Back to good ol' Europe in an Airbus A340-300.

    The runway is short and I need lots of flaps for takeoff. Here we go! See you all! Next time in the U.S. and the Caribbean.

    Bastian Blinten
    [email protected]

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