Gavin Neil from the Mozambique Aero Club extended an invitation to South African aviators to join a fly away to the beautiful lagoon town of Praia do Bilene. Bilene lies 90 miles North-East of Maputo on the crystal clear Uembje Lagoon, giving way to the pounding Indian Ocean beyond tall dunes.
Bilene Airport is located slightly inland of the town at an elevation of 131ft, the tar runway 01/19 is 692 metres long and being at sea level is more than sufficient for light aircraft.
Ten aircraft made their way to Mozambique, they all met up at Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport early on Friday morning 22 September to clear customs. They came from all over, from Silver Creek, two from the Hazyview area, other from Bapsfontien , The Coves and even Swaziland making this a true international affair.
The weather played along on Friday and everyone had an uneventful flight to Maputo, some of us had breakfast on the way, quite an interesting experience in an open cockpit Bathawk. Gavin met the group at Maputo and with his help everyone got through customs without too much effort, Gavin is negotiating with the Mozambique official’s to try and relax the airport fees in the country so as to attract more private aviators to their beautiful country.
The flight from Maputo was definitely the highlight of the weekend. There were literally hundreds of whales and the view of them from above was breath-taking .
On Saturday morning the bad weather stopped all flying so the whole party went into town and went shopping and sightseeing , it did clear enough to allow a short late afternoon flight around the lagoon area and once again the whales were very active just off the coast.
Sunday the weather really tuned nasty and didn’t allow anyone to get off the ground and this caused the weekend to become a long weekend as no one could make the flight back home, not that anyone was complaining.
The day was spent socialising and trying out the local prawns, prego rolls and of course the local beer.
On Monday the weather Gods smiled on the party and everyone got airborne for the trip back home, all went their own ways after clearing customs at KMIA but with one common thought that they definitely have to do this again.
Special thanks to Gavin for organising this in his personal capacity and trying to make Mozambique more accessible to the general aviation community in Southern Africa.