Skubies Blog 2017

Skubie II, ready for duty at Ruaha.

April 2017

Unfortunately, this year has been a non-starter for Anne & myself, due to health issues with myself. I have had to undergo regular treatment at hospital, which has made our normal summer deployment in Tanzania impossible. Luckily, we have managed to bring a couple of extra pilots on board, Ferdi, our South African pilot, and Eddie, a Tanzanian pilot and local. Whilst this does not give STEP full coverage, it is enough to maintain a presence in the sky, and to have an impact on poaching in Rungwa. The aircraft remains on the South African register, hence allowing Ferdi to keep flying it, and Eddie, who has obtained his SA license also is able to fly it.

With the luxury of having two, we started operations early this year. This began in the wet season and the flying has been impacted somewhat by low cloud, sometimes Ferdi had to wait till the afternoon before the cloud lifted and he could get airborne. However, this time of year, there are no problems with heat or high winds so generally safer to operate. However, due to low cloud, there is the occasional need to divert from the planned airfield, so Ferdi had to keep on his toes.

Low cloud with showers in the distance

Ferdi started the year with the US Army at Makwasa, who are training the rangers from Rungwa, and has been back since. The aircraft is holding up well and is a lot more durable than the original Skubie, a Shadow microlight, which was probably too light for Tanzanian conditions.

Rungwa Rangers ready for duty

A new hangar has been built at Msembe by WCS (or the WCS Cessna), but there is plenty of room for the Zenair also, and the aircraft mainly sits there, saving the 1 hour ferry flight from Kibebe to Msembe, every time it needs to fly in the park. Initially, tie downs were gravel bags again, but, mindful of the loss of our Shadow, which was destroyed by high winds, Trevor from STEP, instructed BK to cut some 44 gallon drums in half, fill them with concrete, and now we have those to weigh the aircraft down. It ain't going anywhere!

Skubie safely under Hangar & securely tied down

Eddie, training in SA with Savannah aircraft in background