overflight permission and
landing authorizations from Luanda Angola.
Believe me, we had a great appetite and shortly after, we
got our uniforms
ready. Pilot shirts, with gold stripe pilots and co pilots epaulettes,
tie, black polished shoes and an old
Swissair pilot hat each. From now on, for
the rest of our journey in Africa, together with our clip-on Air Crew
would know, if we were flying a Jumbo Jet, a 3 fan Dassault 2000
business jet, or a small private Piper Comanche.
We took off at 0730 AM,
cleared customs at Ondangwa, an ex South African Air base in the
part of Namibia.
Well here we go, I thought, as
the Angolan border and for a very long distance without incident. Our
We first routed northwest to
the city of
Lubango, the to Benguela on the coast and Luanda, Angola’s capital,
then in a
over water to Pointe Noire in the Congo. We could not help but
admire the countryside. It looked so calm, livable, and yet down
are still destroyed by years of bloody civil war. The vegetation was
becoming increasingly greener and greener.
After 6 hours, we managed our first
radio contact with Pointe Noire. On final approach, we could make out a
Mig 17 and 21’s, as well as some Antonov transporters on the ground.
After landing I requested the
tower to let
me taxi to the fuel pumps and was advised of “no fuel available”
instead I was
to park on the edge of the ramp.
As I put on the breaks, our
immediately surrounded by a bunch of Africans.
Getting out of the cockpit we
by a sound, which sounded like war dances going on in the football
Boy oh boy, now we are in the
of Africa all right, we thought and did not feel very happy what we had
we saw, to say the least.
Congo, hello Kabila the
civilization was now a very long way away and was there a Swiss
around to help
us if we needed it?
After a few moments, a tall
local gentlemen came walking across the tarmac in our direction. He
the director of the airport and wanted to know what the hell we were
doing, landing at his airport. The man requested that we would
follow him to
his office, impounding our plane, he mumbled. Who owns the airplane,
your license number…. He asked and
who gave you the permission to land and what
the hell we were thinking to do in his country anyway. At this point it
my landing request and subsequent official permission from his
authorities in Brazzaville had not reached him in this war shattered
opened my pilot’s case and produced copies of all the filed requests
in a full 3-Inch ring binder. I also produced
the name and address of someone
living in this town, explaining that we were to meet this man that
had a parcel and some
letters, which we needed to deliver. The director of the
airport then took all my documents and disappeared and left his office.
discussed what would be our next move, the gentlemen returned with the
smile in his face you could imagine. From an aggressor
type, this person
suddenly became our friend. What happened? The parcel and letters were
from his niece, an African lady I
know and is living in Geneva. He then asked
us to please call him by his first name.
We had no need to go through
immigration, as Alphonse seemingly owned the whole place. He also
and his driver for us.
That evening, trying to call
and some friends in South Africa from the hotel was of no Avail, as all
international lines were
out of order.
Dinner with the gentlemen we
had to give
all the goodies to was next. The food was reasonable but the bottle of
went down better. After a polite conversational
evening in French, we went to bead quite exhausted.