Safety of air shuttles in SA/Botswana

Old Nov 15th, 2006, 09:25 AM
  #1  
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Safety of air shuttles in SA/Botswana

I am planning safari vacation to SA/Botswana which will include several transfers using local small planes. My wife's paramount concern is how safe they are. Any comments?
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Old Nov 15th, 2006, 09:49 AM
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Don't worry about the smaller planes in Africa. You'll be amazed how professional the pilots and staff are. The planes are kept in great shape. I've been to Africa three times since 1999. Your concern was a primary one for me when I made my first trip. What a laugh we had when we saw that my concern was silly. By the way, I've written a book called African Safari, Again, Again and Again, co-authored with Ken Patchett. It's available from any bookstore and the web. We had so many people ask why we returned three times to Africa, so we decided a book would be helpful. Botswana is wonderful. Good Luck and don't worry.
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Old Nov 15th, 2006, 09:57 AM
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cw
 
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I had never flown in a small plane before our recent SA trip. We had a total of 6 short flights, including one that landed on a grass runway near Sodwana Bay.

I loved being in the small planes and I second the comments about the professionalism of the pilots. I never felt unsafe.

CW

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Old Nov 15th, 2006, 06:26 PM
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santharamhari
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Marchy007,

Very Very Safe.....whole bunch of us do annual trips every year and ofcourse, safety is a high priority to everyone....

You are in good hands.

Hari
 
Old Nov 15th, 2006, 08:09 PM
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Hi marchy007,

This past July I was in Botswana, with quite a few small plane trips, and it was not a concern of mine prior to the trip. It certainly wasn't a problem during any of the flights, which I found all very smooth. You have a lot to look at during the flight or some prefer to read. I think it is a great way to go between camps and it most cases, it is your only choice!

Those guys fly all day with any number of trips, so the planes would have a great service record.

Kind regards,

Kaye
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Old Nov 16th, 2006, 09:03 AM
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I'm no dare devil or risk taker. I fly in those planes without a second thought. Before my first trip, I was concerned as well. Those planes fly all the time, every day without incident. They are the equivalent of taxis to the bush.
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Old Nov 16th, 2006, 12:29 PM
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Your wife is probably concerned because small plane accidents get a lot of press. The reality is that the vast majority of accidents involving small planes happen to private planes, and are usually caused by pilot error. Remember the singer whose greatly over loaded plane crashed in the Caribbean a few years ago? That crash was caused by the plane being overweight and the pilot not putting his foot down. Similarly a colleague died in a small plane crash a few years ago, again the plane was overloaded.
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Old Nov 16th, 2006, 05:09 PM
  #8  
santharamhari
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Yes, i remember....Aaliyah...."Rest in Peace"

Hari
 
Old Nov 16th, 2006, 09:13 PM
  #9  
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Thanks, everybody; I guess all I need to do to get done with this problem is simply to print out all your responses and hand them to my wife
And I can concentrate on more important issues of planning the trip.
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Old Nov 16th, 2006, 10:22 PM
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Very, very safe. You have more chance of a serious road traffic accident. Matt is right about private planes and pilot error. The pilots who fly for a living in places like Africa and other remote parts of the world are highly professional. I've flown in light planes in Papua New Guinea (with clouds and mountains all around and below) and over the flat country of Botswana and never felt any concern.

John
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Old Nov 16th, 2006, 10:46 PM
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I just had to chime in on this one. My son is a commercial pilot, just starting out - which means when he can find a job in the industry it is always a small plane. I sleep very well at nights & considering I am a worry-wart, that is saying something!

When we were in East Africa in May, we took 9 inter-Africa flights + a balloon ride, and I felt very safe.

I just go by the saying that when your time is up, it's up. I went to send a set of books (I am a bookkeeper - some say a very safe career) to an auditor last week, only to find out that she died while on vacation 3 weeks ago - she was hit by a car in a pedestrian crosswalk in San Francisco. A safe place, and a safe activity...
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Old Nov 16th, 2006, 10:53 PM
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santharamhari
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Marchy007,

Which camps are you visiting in Botswana and SA? Not that it's relevant to safety, but, around these boards we are always discussing camps and travel and sightings at various places. So, just curious...

Hari
 
Old Nov 17th, 2006, 05:33 AM
  #13  
 
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Hi marchy,
She'll be so busy looking at the wonderful sights below that she'll forget her concerns. If not, there's always drugs.
Enjoy!
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Old Nov 17th, 2006, 12:27 PM
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The pilots I've flown with have been young but skilled. I can't comment on the maintenance of the aircraft, but I've seen no obvious problems.

With a single-engine plane, one obvious issue is what happens if the engine should fail. While engine failures are very rare, the terrain in much of the safari areas (esp Botswana and Kruger) is particularly receptive to a forced landing -- easy to find a relatively flat area, and virtually no obstructions (esp unseen ones such as overhead wires).

I'm very impressed with the bush pilots' abilities to land at airstrips, most of which don't have landing aids such as VASI lights (these are lights that tell pilots if they're too high or too low during a landing approach). Instead, they rely on good technique and learned skills.

That said, I might ask a question or two before taking a small craft on a day when storms are in the area.
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Old Nov 17th, 2006, 02:43 PM
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santharamhari,

In SA, the camp of choice will be one in Sabisand, most likely MalaMala.

In Botwana, I am just beginning researching, one will definitely be in Okavango Delta, if we have time left (we also want to get to VicFalls) then maybe one more camp in Chobe.

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Old Nov 17th, 2006, 06:27 PM
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santharamhari
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Marchy007,

To make the best time of your safari, i recommend you spend a good amount of time in Botswana (a week to 10 days minimum). Along with a trip to the Delta, i recommend one of the private camps in either of these concessions (Kwando, Selinda or Linyanti) instead of the Chobe which is perhaps more crowded....

Good luck with your planning...

Hari
 
Old Nov 18th, 2006, 01:17 AM
  #17  
santharamhari
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Rizzuto,

I've done the transfers during the "green season" including one day in the rain....between Lebala and Kwara. No issues except got drenching wet between landing and the transfer to camp including, all our luggage.....

Hari
 
Old Nov 18th, 2006, 07:17 AM
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Marchy007,
This post can quickly turn from info on planes to our favorite topic of where to go and what to see.

For the camp that will "definitely be in the delta" may I recommend Vumbura Plains (Wilderness 6 Paw) or Little Vumbura (Wilderness 5 Paw). This gives you water activities and good land game viewing, including a shot at the beautiful, elusive sable antelope. With Little Vumbura you can stay on an island that is a 10-15 minute boat ride from land and really get the feel of the delta.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 06:35 PM
  #19  
santharamhari
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Marchy007,

You didnt mention the time of the year, you intend travelling?

Hari
 
Old Nov 19th, 2006, 04:33 AM
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Hari,

I don't have any problem with rain, it's convective weather (thunderstorms) that would concern me. If the a/c had weather radar, I'd be ok with flying.
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