Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Tiniest Plane(s)

In late September, we took my mom to Victoria Falls. It's a twelve-hour drive from Lilongwe, so we decided to fly. We'd get there in two short flights : Lilongwe - Lusaka; Lusaka -Livingstone. In four hours, we'd be sipping cocktails by the falls.

What I didn't count on were the sizes the size of the planes. As it were, our options included a Cessna 208 Caravan (12 seater) and a relatively more manageable 18-seater (I think a British Aerospace Jetstream 32?). Both prop planes, both ridiculously tiny against the African sky. Because Lilongwe connects to nowhere directly, there were two flights there - and two flights back.

Normally I enjoy embarking/disembarking onto the tarmac. It's much better than those sterile walkways directly form the gate. But on both days (four flights) were blazingly hot - 95+ degrees. Walking out towards the plane almost made your shoes melt. Unlike larger airplanes, they did not keep the air on while on the ground, and it took an alarmingly long time once we took off.

Getting into the tin can.

Lucky for us, it was a full flight.

View from the back of the plane. Time to get to know your neighbor! 

The first flight was ok, but the flight to Livingstone was brutal. Although I felt this plane was safe, the heat and the wind made a wicked crossways bluster, that pushed us side to side. At times, it felt like we were swaying. As I spent the entire flight examining the bottom of my barf bag, I took no photos.

Our return flights were a bit better. The plane was so small that there wasn't even a door to the cockpit.

Me in anticipation of 95 degrees, no air, and being tossed about like a salad. I am clutching the laminated in flight flyer like a bible. It made a better fan than an instruction manual.

Landed! I was very happy that this portion of our travel was over. As in most things though, the journey and the destination go hand in hand. 

It was all worth it to see this view: Victoria Falls at dusk. Amazing!

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