Edit: Balls, I thought I'd put this in Flight Following. Mods, stick it wherever you want it (woof woof). I'm in need of something to punctuate my days in the office, and to assist my day-dreaming before the next big adventure kicks off next year. So, I figured I'd write up my 2013 African flight for the forum, as I did with the recent Alaska trip. Hopefully people will find it of some interest! So, without further ado, here we go. ========================================= In early 2013, I heard through the grapevine that a British Obstetric Surgeon was intending to fly through Africa in a light aircraft, and offer medical training and supplies in countries along the route. Having always been fascinated with the idea of a long flight through Africa, I got in touch to find out more, and see if there was any way I could help with my experience of flying in Africa to date. Dr Sophia Webster and I ended up getting on well, and discussing the trip in more and more detail - before long, I was asked if I would come along as an experienced pilot to deal with the aviation side of things. While Dr Webster held a Private Pilot's Licence, she had only about 100 hours flight time; more importantly she'd need to be devoting most of her time to the medical mission rather than flight planning. Once I had agreed that yes, I would like to go (which was not a difficult thing to convince me of) things started coming together remarkably quickly. Within the space of a few weeks the aircraft lease was organised, vaccinations acquired, flight to Europe booked, and visa and flight clearance process well under way. My area of expertise is aviation rather than medicine, but before long I found myself learning a lot more than I ever expected to about maternal mortality in child-birth. The death of the mother during pregnancy and delivery is incredibly rare in the developed world, but still sadly common in much of the developing world including much of Sub-Saharan Africa. As an obstetric surgeon with a keen interest in Africa, Dr Webster planned to travel through those countries in Africa with the highest rates of maternal mortality to offer training and equipment to combat the problem. Unsurprisingly, there are significant challenges when planning this kind of flight. The first is the choice of aircraft; the limited availability of AVGAS cuts out 99% of the piston general aviation fleet. We ended up leasing a C182 that had been converted to an aero-diesel engine produced by SMA - this runs on jet fuel, which is available anywhere. It comes with the added advantage of better fuel economy leading directly to increased range. Our diesel 182: The number of different countries to be visited also presented a challenge. In total, ~25 different African countries would be visited over a three month period; each of this countries has different entry requirements for aircraft and crew. Mike Gray, of White Rose Aviation, was employed to organise overflight and landing clearances along the entire route. As well as permits, visas for myself and Sophia had to be organised. Some countries make visas available on entry, but others had to be organised in advance; thankfully, Sophia and her family were able to take the time in London to visit a number of embassies and organise visas in advance. Despite advice that we would not be able to get visas without having commercial airline tickets, we found that this was not the case and the required visas could be procured. The route was primarily chosen with Sophia's medical contacts in mind. As a result, at the majority of stops we already knew people on the ground who would be able to help out with accommodation, transport, and safety advice for the locations we were visiting. Other varied tasks included procurement of charts; VFR charts were not available for the majority of the route. We acquired IFR en-route charts, and approach plates, for the entirety of Africa from Jeppesen; these came in three thick 2" binders. It was amazing to think that we had full details for every airport on an entire continent in our hands! Our approach plate collection for the whole of Africa: VFR charts for Africa were mostly not available; the majority of navigation was through IFR charts, VFR data on my Aera 500, and Skyvector!