Yesterday I jump started my first R-44, flew solo in Botswana and entered controlled airspace without annoying Approach or Tower with my radio work. The radio work is straight forward here, Civil Aviation Authority-Botswana follows ICAO standards but depending on who's in the tower, the operator's accent can be hella thick. They follow a standard script so based on how long they chatter back, one can figure out whether to add, "and looking for traffic," to the transmission.
Back in Maun, I got in the Jetranger with the owner, two Spaniards and a bunch of luggage. We convoyed out with the R-44's. A family of eight chartered a ride with us rather than a four hour drive to their remote camp.
Then I hopped in the R-44 to go pick up guests for my first ever scenic flight without a co-pilot. The Russian-Kiwi must have given a favorable report of my decision making for Andrew to push me out of the nest. Jumping from one type of helicopter to another minutes apart makes one pay attention. The Japanese have a word for it, "Mokodi," the same, but different.
So I met the guests, gave them a safety briefing, and lifted off for their scenic flight. "How long have you been doing this?" came through my headset. I looked at my watch and said, "About four minutes." Then we laughed and laughed and I pointed to a giraffe to change the subject. If I'm asked today, I'm gonna say, "Oh don't worry, I've done this once or twice."
Such a wonderful sort of haunting.
4 hours ago