SR 22 G6 Ferry Flight USA - RSA
Cirrus SR 22 G6 Ferry Flight 10 November – 24 November 2019
14 Days, 18 Legs, 9446NM, 66 hours of flying time, 3 Aircrafts, 5 Pilots and 14 countries.
2019 seems to have been one of the most successful years to date for CDC Aviation and Cirrus South Africa. Highlighted earlier this year was the arrival of the First SF50 Vision Jet into the country, and the first owner rated pilot of the jet. As if it couldn’t get better than that, the Sales department ended the year with 5 Brand new SR 22 G6 aircrafts sold and delivered into the country for local private owners, showing the market is still strong for those who have the right market and the right product.
All 5 new G6 aircraft were ferried into the country in the latter half of this year, with Tony Forbes (Company Director) and Alex Smith (Cirrus Flight School CFI) completing the long and challenging route.
The Ferry Route sees the pilots receiving their aircraft at the Cirrus delivery centre in Knoxville Tennessee. From there it begins a 14-day journey, traveling through 14 countries and covering over 9000NM in conditions that vary from -17 in snow blizzards in the Arctic Circle North of Canada and Greenland, to 50 degrees in boiling hot summer sun in the Sudan.
This particular trip came at an inconvenient time, considering the winter weather across the Northern Hemisphere in non FIKI equipped aircrafts, which then saw the team delayed due to severe weather a few times. In the true spirit of Aviation and Adventure this did not dampen our spirits, but rather gave the opportunity to explore the unimagined. Some highlights of the trip saw us enjoy some Rock ‘n Roll culture in Nashville Tennessee, then onto the second largest body of ice in the world, in Greenland, which covers 70 % of the country with the Russel ice glacier at the edge of the ice cap. This is a sight to behold, moving 25 m every year; this glacier is actually creating small mountains as it digs into the ground closer to the coast. A full day trip up to the glacier and hiking up to this magnificent sight is something not many people get to experience. Unbelievable sights and sounds as you can see the frozen waterfalls and hear the ice cracking around you! the routing inbound across the Northan Atlantic sees you follow a Ford (River) inbound from the coast all the way in to the one way in one way out airfield at Sonderstrohm Air Force base. ( This airfield was initial created by the Allies during WWII as a half way point for refueling for aircraft traveling from the states to Europe for the war) truly one of the most amazing approaches in the world.
Once the 100kt winds had died down and the snow had stopped we were off on the next ocean-crossing, into the beautiful city of Reykjavik, where Reindeer Burgers and local beer welcomed us in. walking to the aircraft in teh dark at 0900hl, in teh freezing cold we knew thre would be problems. The icing on the aircraft in the morning was so severe we were delayed and had to get full de-icing ground equipment to clear the wings) great photos and videos on the Instagram and Facebook accounts), then off again across to the very most Northern shores of wick in Scotland.
The European legs are always the most spectacular with the crew able to spend some time exploring Belgium, Italy and Greece before the long flights through Africa. Having Cirrus Family in Belgium and Italy to show the team around, we really got the first-hand experience of the local culture, food and drinks. Forcing ourselves a bit of R and R over a few days regenerates the fatigue and really allows you time to appreciate how fortunate we are to be able to live our lives so involved in aviation. The true spirit of adventure and what aviation is all about, exploring and seeing things from a perspective only aviators get to experience.
Europe also provides some of the most challenging flying of the trip, most notably the risk of icing increases; flight planning, flight levels and constant vigilant decision making is imperative during these legs, as icing levels change and immediate decisions need to be made early to avoid big problems. The unexpected challenges that arise are the aspects of air traffic control that one wouldn’t think about on the pre-planning.
Busy airspace is one thing, but very strong northern Scottish accents are a lot more of a challenge than flying an airway! ‘Say again slow’ becomes a regular call. Having said all of this, generally flying through the US and Europe is a dream. Controllers (although difficult to understand) are accommodating and very helpful on the radio, direct routing once airborne were common and the friendly ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Merci ’ is always the first thing you hear on a change of frequency.
Africa proves to have the most challenging legs from a logistical perspective, Avgas is very difficult to obtain, and your routes are mostly decided on where you can get a few barrels from the local military air bases (and also at an obscene cost). Coming into Egypt after crossing the Mediterranean Sea, saw us delayed in the air for over an hour as Egyptian Military fighter jets were doing some formation flying at our intended destination point, and we were not allowed close despite having a clearance and flight plan. This resulted in a 150 nm diversion and then entering a hold for the approach over the ocean until they had all landed. This is the setting for the rest of Africa. One thing can be said though, an Africa sunset over the desert from 10 000 ft is something to behold and a reminder of the great beauty of Africa.
In Khartoum we are only allowed on the ground for 2 hours, as per our clearance and insurance certificate, and in this time all aircrafts need to be refuelled using hand-pumps from 200L fuel barrels off the back of a beat up old truck. In the middle of a wide expanse of dessert Khartoum is unexpectedly large as a city, and busy as an airport.
The Fuel in Lokichogio, Kenya needs to be trucked up from Nairobi, which takes 4 days to get there, and once you have paid these exorbitant fees you are still instructed for a $20 cash fee for them to hand pump the fuel, even if you have a small motorized pump and pump it yourself, as we found out. Immigration takes hours, and more paper work and questions than we received though the previous 9 countries. Although such is Africa everything is said with a smile. A very small landing strip, half of which has been completely neglected, so you have to land deep and can only consider half the runway usable, although there is a good RNAV approach into the strip. The sides of the runway are littered with old Cessnas and commanders long left to rust in the African graveyard
We landed into dark at Nairobi’s Wilson airport after a day of close to 10 hours of flying through Africa, with severe summer thunder storms and rain. What a pleasure it is after that day getting into the Aero Club of East Africa, the second oldest Aero club on the continent, in operation since 1927. The club has had an upgrade over the last few years and has supreme accommodation available, a great restaurant with the best steaks, and of course the Aero Club bar, where many drinks have been enjoyed over the years, and we did not let the tradition down. A truly great aviation experience to anyone in that area!
The last few legs of the trip are a breeze, as we begin to get back into familiar territory – flying past Mt Kilimanjaro in the morning and over Lake Malawi the next day. It is only by flying over this inland ocean you really can comprehend the size and beauty of this lake. Then the 5 hour route from Lilongwe to Lanseria on the final day.
This brings to an end another successful ferry, where we can ensure as a company that the aircrafts get flown correctly, looked after and get delivered in the best possible condition for the new owners. These Ferry flights offer the opportunity for not only fantastic flight experience for the Cirrus Flight instructors, but also an opportunity to truly get in touch with the heartbeat of general aviation – flying a single piston aircraft half way across the world meeting aviators from all over and spreading this joy we call aviation and the Cirrus life! This is what flying is all about and this is what Cirrus is all about.
2019 has seen so much more for CDC Aviation, the Cirrus Certified Training centre is busier than it has ever been, 6 SR 20s are flying almost 100 hours each a month, as well as SR 22 and BE 55 training, and the school also now has a turbine endorsement for initial ratings and pof checks. The school makes use of 10 Flight instructors who are all cirrus factory trained which allows the school to give the very best training to both ab initio students and training for new owners on their aircrafts.
The Cirrus Maintenance department sent another senior engineer, Corne Van Niekerk, to the United States for the Vision Jet type course, which will now allow cirrus to have 2 fully qualified engineers on site for their new Jet service centre. AS the only recognised cirrus service centre in Africa the AMO has been growing from strength to strength under the guidance of Dudley Currin COO and chief Engineer Travis Magee, both of whom have been with the company for over 20 years. CDC Aviation really has outdone itself in these tough times creating an environment where the product leads the way and the aviators follow.