Captain’s Log-16 March 2012-Harmattan

A view from the cockpit of the C-206.  This is nice compared to the really bad dirt and dust in the air on the bad days that the Harmattan brings down from the Sahara. Today as I look out my window I can see about 1.5 miles. Not great flying weather. 

Finally we have a clear day!  We have had incredibly dirty skies the last month or more but this last week has been really terrible.  One day I am sure that to say there was a mile of visibility would be thinking positive.  I took a flight to Boga, an airstrip on the side of a mountain, that was just no fun at all because of our lack of forward visibility.  It is the Harmattan.  That dry, dusty trade wind of north Africa that blows down from the Sahara, usually between November and the Middle of March.
The name comes from, or is related to, an Akan Cognate.  It can cause severe crop damage as it picks up fine dust passing over the desert and carries it hundreds of miles.  Small, fine particles that cover everything.  And it has been hot; 40-45 degrees Celsius.  What is that in Fahrenheit?   104-113 degrees.  Hot!
Anyway, this weekend we had two days of rain and hail! and last night lots of rain.  I flew to Ango alongside a lovely big rain shower in nice clear sky, to my great joy.  It was good to be able to see well again.
Now today the dirty sky is back with a vengeance. I could not even see the ground straight down below the airplane at 9,500 feet.  My passenger Hamadu and I had to go back down to 7,500 before it came back into view.  Oh, I pray for this Harmattan to be over with!

An old man, a friend from the village, reads his Bible beside the cooking fire in the even during our visit. Nice.

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2 Responses to Captain’s Log-16 March 2012-Harmattan

  1. But that is what makes you a fantastic pilot! I worked for Qantas International for over 20 years, and it was always the pilots who had previous experience as “bush pilots” who were (and still are) considered the most proficient. A young relative of mine worked for a company from Botswana, and he flew through astonishing weather conditions…you could just see a small “window of opportunity” to fly through. Without a doubt it is the bushies who I feel safer flying with!
    Kindest regards,
    Victoria

    • jcadd says:

      Hey thanks for that Victoria, Did you ever come out to Zimbabwe when working with Qantas? When we flew at Fothergill Island there, we had some of our best times taking Qantas crews out catching crocs on our night game drives. The crews were great fun. Jon

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