France. New Zealand. South Africa. Pilots have vicariously visited these picturesque locations and flown the airways in those countries through the pages of AOPA Pilot. AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines, Editor at Large Tom Horne, and Senior Editor Dave Hirschman shared tales of aviation safaris, flying in the French Alps, and breathtaking views of New Zealand during the Oct. 11 keynote at AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, Calif.
Haines traveled to Stellenbosch, South Africa, for the biennial World Assembly of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations in May, taking the opportunity afterward to embark on a general aviation safari arranged by Hanks Aero Adventures.
“South Africa was really interesting because they have a vibrant general aviation industry,” Haines said. Flying clubs, he said, play a large role in the country’s active industry.
Haines launched in a Cessna 182 and flew over Botswana and Zambia, and took in the sites of Victoria Falls. “The way to see it is from general aviation airplane,” he said. “It was a remarkable way to get around South Africa.”
Just a note for others planning a similar trip: Make sure the elephants are cleared from the runways before takeoff. Read more about his adventure in “Flying in the land of elephants.”
Flying over the French Alps provides breathtaking views, but landing in them is as difficult as the scenery is spectacular. Horne flew into an airport in a Beech Musketeer with an 18-percent grade. The procedure? Fly in over the ski lifts, nail your airspeed, land on the threshold, and add power to get up the hill. Go arounds are not an option.
“Taking off is a nonissue, you’re going downhill,” Horne said. Horne documented his adventure in “French lessons.”
New Zealand is welcoming to American pilots, according to Hirschman, who said pilots can get their U.S. pilot certificates validated in one day.
Hirschman flew from the country’s tropical north to its glacial south, taking in sights such as Mount Cook, Milford Sound, and Whale Island.
“It was the aviation adventure of a lifetime for me,” he said.
Although the scenery was spectacular, Hirschman, who hasn’t flown GA internationally much, said the experience made him thankful for the freedoms he enjoys to fly in the United States. Pilots in other countries, he said, are faced with steeper costs and more regulations that make flying more difficult. Read about his adventures in “Magic in the air.”