High Flyers, Radio Riders

The Elephant Back Safari reserve has a grass runway and small 7-seater prop plane. One of our wilderness game guides, Andre, has his pilot’s license. When he suggested that we could take a little aero tour, we didn’t hesitate to say yes. We flew out over the Addo Elephant National Park and eventually reached the sea in about 25 minutes’ time. We communicated via headset radios that transmitted our voices but blocked out the noise of the prop and the sound of the wind whipping around the plane’s body. The time went by so fast as we pointed out animals to each other, joked around with Andre, listened to him speak with the air traffic controllers in Port Elizabeth, and enjoyed the scenery below. Flying there and back, we saw gorgeous mountain vistas, luscious trees, green farmland, and a white sand coastline as well as elephants, zebras, giraffes, cattle, wildebeest and whales.

Andre informed us that the proper way to take off with a small, heavily-loaded airplane in a mountain valley is to head downhill. That way, you’re sure to get up enough speed to take off before you reach the end of the runway. Similarly, the landing is done uphill to help slow down the plane naturally. For a little extra fun during the flight, Andre offered to give us as many roller coaster dives as we could handle. That was a blast for us, but not quite as thrilling for our fellow passengers with more motion sickness sensitivity — sorry, Donna!

Air Safari from Sam and Shannon Bloomquist on Vimeo.

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