Above: Mount Meru from Arusha airport.After bagging out / insulting Air Tanzania in my last post about their mishaps I thought I may as well expose a practice that occurs in modern bush flying in mountainous third world back waters.
What I am talking about is using unofficial waypoints saved to GPS (Global Positioning System) and later used for sole navigation purposes between mountains in bad weather. Official GPS approaches are not a new thing, but they are professionally designed and are updated in GPS databases each month....Then there is homemade GPS approaches which is the scary illegal by product adopted by bush pilots and made by self GPS qualified pilots as a way of getting the job done in all weather. Mostly this happens in places off the beaten track like Irian Jaya in Asia or somewhere crazy like that. However there is one city called Arusha in Tanzania which serves as a hub for thousands of tourists flying in and out the Serengeti National Park. Regularly these tourists are flown unknowingly between mountains in cloud with the pilot relying on the co-ordinates of each homemade waypoint still being correct from when they last flew that particular route.
Nogorongoro crater), from there overhead lake Manyara airport and from there direct to Arusha this track puts you on the centre line for runway '09' at Arusha airport. As long as you descended by the steps set out in homemade approach which is pictured below you would end up safely in Arusha, in theory. This was the route myself and many other Cessna Caravan pilots preferred. The red dots of the Eastern and Western rim were just positions that pilots saved as waypoints when flying over in nice weather. So when the weather turned to crap I would do one hail Mary and then transfer the rest of my faith to the GPS with its make shift approach / saved co-ordinates. Thankfully I now fly in the land rules (Australia) and such cowboy antics are not expected from me at all.
Jeppesen instrument approach chart. It is a uncontrolled GPS approach and any person who can push buttons is able to change the saved co-ordinates in a GPS unit with the potential of a disaster. However thousands of tourists are subjected to it daily without consequence, so far....If your planning a holiday to the Serengeti that involves flying into Arusha just consider it part of your African adventure...
Changing the subject entirely from bush pilot approaches, I read an article yesterday stating Viktor Bout was sentenced to twenty five years in prison on terrorism charges. If you have not heard of Viktor Bout he use to operate a transport service using a fleet of old Soviet-era aircraft to apparently supply undesirables in various African conflict zones with arms and other frowned upon cargoes. Viktor Bout is one of two people who Nicolas Cages character in the film 'Lord of War' were loosely based on.