Passport to the World over 64 years. Pages from my Travel Diary
Flying Over Victoria Falls in a Microlite Aircraft. Wednesday the13th. of July 1994.
I was on a visit to Zimbabwe, and arrived at Victoria Falls and found that I could go into Zambia and take a flight over the famous Victoria Falls in the back seat of of a small aircraft called a Microlite. Rather like a hang glider with a motor and an open cockpit.
It is powered by a small motor not unlike a two stroke motor mower engine, with the engine and propellor behind the back seat. It has a kite like sail, and is controlled by the pilot by means of rudder bar which moves the kite to change the flight direction. I guess the motor develops about 20 HP, with a speed of 40MPH.
I crossed the bridge which separates Zimbabwe and Zambia on foot, it also carriers the rail line which drives north to Cairo. I had no trouble at the border, had my passport stamped, and I was suddenly in another country, Zambia, I was collected by a pick up truck, with several others who were also flying today, and off we were whisked to a nearby airstrip.
I chose to be on the last flight for the day, as it would be closer to sunset, and I wanted to view the falls under those conditions. Two microlites were operating, and I soon needed to don a flying suit, as the open cockpit was reported to be quite windy.
In I climbed behind my pilot, I had a set of headphones so that I could talk to him, for an extra small charge a camera in the sail tip would record my flight, and I took that option.
We were now over the falls, at less than a 1,000 feet, an awesome vista, as 500,000 cubic meters of water rush over the edge of the falls every minute, and smash into the Devil's Cataract 100 meters below, sending up a spray that looks just like a wall of smoke. In fact the local Batonga people named these falls "Mosi - Oa - Tunya" which translates as
We flew along the rim of the falls, at times swooping low over this continuous rush of water tumbling over the edge, an absolute incredible sight, for some 40 minutes we flew back and forth, now dusk was beginning to come down, it was time to return to the Zambian air strip. It was almost dark as we landed, just in time, no lights edging this air field, and we taxied to the rough tin shed that served as the office here.
I scrambled out of my flying suit, well pleased, this flight in a Microlite had been one of the adventures of my long life, probably one of the best and most wonderful things I had ever done for myself.
We were soon back at the frontier control, and I crossed again into Zimbabwe, retracing my steps back to my hotel.
Flying over the Victoria Falls today, will remain with me as an absolute highlight of all my travels around the world.
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