Scared to fly!

Old Sep 11th, 2005, 05:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 12
Scared to fly!

My fiance and I are planning a trip to Africa for our honeymoon in mid-September 2006. Although I love traveling and it has always been my dream to go on a safari in Africa, I am extremely afraid of flying. I am terrified to get on the tiny plane to go to Singita. Is there any other way to get to Singita that does not involve flying (or flying on a tiny plane)? Also, would anyone mind describing their experience flying on those tiny planes (i.e. what does it feel like, are the planes old or new, are the pilots competent)? Any information would be greatly appreciated!
Jessicaddc is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2005, 05:16 PM
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I don't know how many bush flights I already made, but I never feel unsafe during these flights. On the contrary, I would say, I feel more safe in those little planes than in the big airliners. The planes have a high quality standard and the pilots are more than competent.

Old Sep 11th, 2005, 06:50 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Jessica ~ I would have to second Mitch's comments. I've never flown on the little planes in Africa, but I flew on a tiny "play-toy" plane in Belize that seated about 6 people. I was somewhat freaked out, but it was great! It just picked up and got into the air so easily...without all the rumbling and jostling and noise you get on the big jets. (Well, I'm sure there is some bumpiness on the Africa "runways," but I really loved the flight over the Caribbean. Don't worry!
cooncat2 is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2005, 07:38 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I have flown many many times in these small planes. They are extremely safe. Three of the best reasons being they are well designed, proven and simple operating machines. They don't just hire anyone off the street. It takes a considerable amount of experience- not to say the least there is alot of quality pilots competing for the jobs.
What upsets people I think is that the planes are not noise insulated as you are used to in jets and they react a more to turbulence. Otherwise, a single engine plane is considered safer transportation then a car. Think about this also, many people get a pilots licence with only about 40 hours of airtime and its still safer then a car. Note that your pilot will have a single engine license, commercial, instrument and air transport ratings minimum to fly you. And probably 1000's of hours. 99% of all plane accidents are pilot error. So, its safe and enjoy the ride. If you are lucky and the pilot is in a mood, you may get an "Out of Africa" flight.
luangwablondes is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2005, 08:45 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Jessicaddc: there should be no reason why you can't transfer by road. Many people drive to that area from Joburg --it takes about 5 1/2 hours on good roads. It's probably a rarity for Singita guests since they have the means to pay for the in-country flight but many rent cars and drive over to other lodges in the area or Kruger itself. You probably do not want to rent a car in which case you should be able to arrange a road transfer where a driver picks you up and takes you all the way from Joburg. Check with Singita or your agent and they should be able to arrange it and allow you to relax and enjoy your honeymoon.

I'm with the others, the small flights provide spectacular views and are a great experience but you do have an option if that's going to stress you on your honeymoon.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2005, 10:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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oh, i know exactly how you feel- or did long ago. here are some helpful thoughts that got me over it (veteran of more tiny planes than i can count many in developing countries held together by duct tape and flying over water):

1) to the pilots, these planes are as common as cars- they get in turn the key and off you all go.

2) it is far easier to land and control a tiny plane than a jumbo jet.

3) look out the window and think of it as a ride, because really, the scenery is marvelous and you will be able to spot animals and towns and houses.

4) the pilots are very very competent.

5) if you can, take the co-pilot seat. that way you'll be right on top of things should the pilot pass out- no seriously, for some reason i feel extra confident in that seat and the novelty of all the dials moving in the right direction will comfort you.

6) bring something to read and pretend you are on a commuter train.

good luck. i do understand your feelings and i don;t think it is unreasonable to elect to travel by road to singita if that is what you prefer.
kerikeri is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2005, 04:21 PM
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A road transfer from KMIA to any Sabi Sands lodge should run about R450 per person. I believe it takes about 2 hours. Singita should be able to arrange it for you.

I've flown in many small planes in Africa, and whilst it can get a bit bumpy the thing I really remember is being able to look down and see the ellies -- and even a black rhino!

jasher is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2005, 08:03 AM
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Jessica my hubby hates flying too. He gets this strange glazed look in his eyes the moment he enters the airport. However for whatever reason he feels just fine in a small aircraft. When I asked him about it he said he feels better there because he can usually see the pilot and knows what is going on all the time.(he did take some flying lessons in small aircraft about 15 years ago). So who knows maybe you too will find the small planes a less frightening experience. The other thing you can do is chat to your doctor and they may be able to give you something to help settle your nerves -not something to make you sleep just to calm you. You then could maybe try a flight without taking anything and if you are very stressed take something prior to the next flight. A word of caution though do talk to your doc carefully about this and if something is prescribed try one at home a week or so before you leave to make sure your body is ok with it and if not that gives you time to talk again and get somehting different.

Have a wonderful trip
jules39 is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2007, 03:24 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Are the planes in east africe any safer or less safe than the planes in Botswana?
How does one know if the different companies really check the entire plane before each flight? Is one company safer than another? I know there was a recent charter crash and it makes one very nervous to fly. I know you have to just bit the bullet but knowing their level of safety check would be a good thing.
skier1 is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2007, 05:36 PM
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Most crashes are because of weather conditions (combined with pilot's failures) or collision with birds, but not because of the plane's condition at take-off. Thus knowing about the pre-flight checks won't help you much.

In my experience reliability of air charters in southern and East Africa is the same. And don't forget - your pilot is sitting in the same plane. He/she will make sure that your flight is as safety as possible.
nyama is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2007, 08:21 PM
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my husband is a private pilot on little planes like the ones you will take. He was also a little plane mechanic for many years, and I can assure you that they are better maintained than most cars. They get inspected at regular and fairly short intervals, with more thorough inspections at slightly larger intervals. You should be able to look at the plane's log books - each plane should have a log with every thing that has been done, from an oil change to major engine work. Although the log will be technical and so it will be hard to understand.

I have flown many hours in little planes. I have been nervous - and let me tell you I am viscerally scared of heights, I really can't handle them, but these planes are far safer than big ones. They are designed to just about fly themselves, they are stall proof, they want to stay in the air. I would agree with sitting in the co pilot's seat. It might be too noisy to chat with the pilot, but it will be interesting.

Is there a small airport near where you live? You could go up with someone to try it out before your trip.

But, I don't think flying would be worth the stress to me, if it was that stressful. If you drive, you could make some stops along the way, maybe, and get a feel for the villages and areas outside of the beaten tourist path. A cultural tour like that might be interesting and rewarding in and of itself.

Have a great trip whatever you decide, and congratulations!
Momliz is offline  
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