Flying little planes around Africa

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Jun 4th, 2014, 04:26 AM
  #1
P_M
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Flying little planes around Africa

One of the safaris I'm looking at is with OAT and it will it include some flights will be on tiny little planes. The smallest plane I've ever been on was an 8-seater. It was a company plane and I felt reasonably confident it was well maintained, but I'm not sure what to think of little planes in the African bush. I'm anxious to hear your thoughts.

Thanks.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 04:28 AM
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P_M
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Please excuse the weird structure of my first sentence.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 05:21 AM
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Many flights on 8-seaters or smaller. Never a problem. And OAT does not want a problem.

Back on the ground, the roadways in many parts of Africa are quite harrowing. The rules of the road are far more lax than I am used to, creating a bit of a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, if you can relate from Disney World.

You may wish to take a Bonine nausea pill before departure if you are prone to problems. I'd suggest experimenting with a whole or a half a Bonine pill at home to see how it affects you and if it makes you drowsy. I take a half of a pill even though dosage is up to two of them.

Have a great safari, by air or land.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 07:56 AM
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I took one flight in Tanzania and three in Kenya and felt completely safe. There seemed to be just a couple/few airlines that fly between airstrips (SafariLink being the one I took in Kenya) and if you do research online ahead of time you'll see they're well used and with good result. Yes, smaller planes are daunting but the flights are so short you'll hardly notice! ;-)
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Jun 4th, 2014, 11:06 AM
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We have flown many times on small bush planes and had no problems other than having to avoid a water buffalo on the dirt runway once! That being said, Airlink is the best and most well maintained out of Johannesburg for flights out to game reserves. They have a very nice waiting room with food & shop. Air Botswana from Joburg is good to get to Maun where you can pick up a smaller bush plane to reserves/lodges.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 12:55 PM
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Except for last trip when we spent 6/days driving and over nighting various camps in the Serengeti, every other transfer between Point A to B, are light aircraft whether Kenya or Tanzania. Few flights are longer than 1.5/hrs, most usually 1/hr or less and find myself landing very soon after take-off.

Some distances if by road take an entire day that is wasted vs game viewing. Some distances even require an overnight somewhere before continuing to your destination. Sure better flying than spending way too many hours on my butt on some nasty roads.

Food service on most of these flights are (get ready), a mint, guess to avoid nausea (that I've never experienced), but these planes don't fly all that high... certainly not at 30,000'... maybe 10,000 max.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 12:55 PM
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I shared your concern, so I looked into it a couple of years ago. Sefofane and FedAir have great (Sefofane perfect!!) records. We have flown on a few - the smallest was a two passenger from Mashatu to Polokwane. If you are still looking at Botswana, it's likely Sefofane on Caravan aircraft. Very safe - and really fun! A bit noisy, but the pilots try to avoid turbulence and it's not bad. Just double check the baggage limits - they can be quite small. We are leaving for a two week trip soon - with carry on bags only. Pack less, hand wash more.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 02:39 PM
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After eight safaris in various countries (RSA, Bots, Kenya and Tanzania), I've experienced many flights in small planes. The equipment can range from 4 seats to 30 seats, so there is quite a range. The smaller planes can be quite hot, so layer clothing accordingly. If the engine noise is bothersome, you can use earplugs. I would suggest taking bottled water with you, just in case it is not available. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, you can take a non-drowsy formula. The positives are many: quickest way to your destination, engaging pilots and stunning views from low altitude flights. Nervous flyers can request to sit in the seat next to the pilot for a better view. I do believe their safety records are quite strong, so that shouldn't be a concern. The flights are generally short, so I hope the small planes are not a deterrent to taking your trip. Africa is sublime.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 04:44 PM
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P_M
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Thank you all for the good info, I'm glad to know you all had good experiences. This makes me a lot more comfortable with the prospect of flying little planes.
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Jun 5th, 2014, 12:27 AM
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Definltely keep bonine (meclizine) with you. There are chewable forms available One "bush" flight i was on, a passenger spent the entire time with a barf bag. The gasoline fumes in the back of the small plane were strong and nauseating. Also, you may take off and land at several different camps between your departure and arrival airstrip locations.
i'm about to leave on a trip to Kenya which will involve four of these "puddle hopper" flights.
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Jun 5th, 2014, 04:31 AM
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PM chances are pretty good you'll be fine. And if not we'll all have the same Friday rant.
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Jun 6th, 2014, 02:28 AM
  #12
P_M
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Thanks for your usual words of comfort. We don't call you coldy for nothing.

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Jun 9th, 2014, 11:39 AM
  #13
 
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I love flying in these small planes & am usually lining up early to get a seat behind the pilot for a better view of landings and take offs.

Yes they're cramped, noisy, & I don't recall EVER getting a mint but the view more than makes up for it all!

Some provide water - some don't. Layering clothing is a good idea.
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