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Leg 60 - Iferouane (DRZI) - Sabha (HLLS)

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Welcome to Iferouane, Niger. Not the most urban of airfields, but the locals are pleasant and hospitable to us foreigners and our huge visiting aircraft.

Iferouane is an oasis town in norther Niger, in Agadez Department,. It is located northeast of Arlit in the  northern Air, Lghazar valley near the Tamgak Range. Iferouane is also the location of the headquarters of the Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves, a World Heritage Site covering more than 19,000,000 acres.The Project for the Conservation and Management of the Natural Resources of the Aïr-Ténéré, a joint venture between the government of Niger, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), is also based in Iferouane. Iferouane receives, on average, in excess of 50 mm of rainfall per year, which falls in the course of a few heavy downpours during the summer months. Mean rainfall per annum was 58.2 mm (2.29 in) from 1940 to 1989, and 76.1 mm (3.00 in) between 1990 and 2004.[16] Temperatures as low as −1 °C (30 °F) and as high as 52 °C (126 °F) have been recorded. (credit: Wikipedia)

Today it feels as though we are challenging the high temperature records...


Local Architecture is heavily dependent on local materials, and blend well with the environment


Overview of the Airfield

Chuck found Pat Moran and I working on one of Pat's new SAA liveried "restoration" planes. He has always been enamored of classic 60's, 70's and 80's era aircraft, civil and military. We share a love of Dials over MFD screens. The glance-ability of a rack of familiar needles for something positionally amiss is easier on us than reading a sequence of numbers looking for digits out of place.
Pat's company 'Eureka We Haul It' had seen some declines in fortunes recently, prompting restructuring of routes, fleets, and bases. Last we saw him I was in Indonesia helping to calculate refuel timing for a Fast Cargo/Data service that he is still running, though at less profit than he would like to admit. The service pays well when it is being used, but the demand wasn't has great as Pat had hoped, and the few Old Customers that use the covert jet delivery routes don't keep the planes flying often. Pat ends up paying for upkeep for a lounge and payroll for his standby pilots and highly paid aircraft washers/mechanics to look after the planes.

More recently Pat came across multiple stashes of brand new/spare parts for planes no longer in service, mostly old airliners, and he negotiated to snatch most of them up for a song. We are bringing home some aircraft to make use of some of those parts, and to begin re-fleeting Pat's business with some classic Dial-o-liners.
He found a couple each 707 and 727s mothballed in South Africa, former SAA birds. We and a few of his flight engineers hauled parts to the site and got a couple of the best condition birds flyable and are taking them to their new home at one of Pat's European bases. Pat is flying a Boeing 707-300B, and I am flying a B727-200.
As mentioned, the 727 had a power loss issue with the center engine, and we took the opportunity while waiting for Chuck to repair it.
When Chuck arrived, we were sweating on gantries under boiling hot cowlings. The tiny puffs of breeze and clouds of flying dust and sand introduced to the field by the AN's twin turboprops were a brief foreshadowing of things to come...I did mention the chickens?
Over a cold beer I told Chuck about the locals predicting a wind storm based on unusual chicken activity. Well, Chuck also chuckled at the chicken prediction, but left after just one beer in order to get back to finishing a bit of Cover Work left to do back at Menaka...and fortunate too.
The tiny eddies of wind when Chuck's turboprops left never really stopped...now, I'm not blaming Chuck, the Anotov props, nor the chickens, but the dust eddies that started at Chuck's departure kind of kept increasing and building slowly until a few hours before dusk the locals were saying 'we told you so' and smiling through nervous slatted eyes against the blowing dust and sand... and the chickens were long gone under cover.

Now, Pat's cache in Africa extends pretty far, and he made some calls to a local mining outfit and got truck loads of tarps down to the airfield in a hurry, and before nightfall between our flight crews and the locals we quickly tarped and sand bagged the Boeings in anticipation of a full blown sandstorm.
It howled and blew all night, and the next day, and the next night...until Saturday afternoon, when the winds eventually died down and we finally dug ourselves out from cover. OMG...the entire airfield, and the Boeings, were covered in sand. The tops of Boeing shaped tarps were sticking out of a flat expanse of sand, and no runway in sight. This was not Iferouane's first sand rodeo however, and there were a few CAT D8 dozers, part of a nearby mining biz, handy to start clearing the field. Locals manned the dozers like they were race cars. The spent all day Saturday and most of the following night under high powered lights bulldozing sand this way, then that way, pushing it away in all directions relentlessly till the entire field was bordered by huge drifts of sand.

And that is how our two planes ended up in this sand pit in Niger. :D

Interestingly, while doing prep for this leg I discovered that Google Maps was unable to calculate a route between Iferouane, and Sabha, sooo...I guess we can't get a ticket booked to there from here? Joe will again be relieved...no chance for commercial flights on the CC this leg...I am now wondering if I was awarded this leg for this reason... :huh:
There is not much in the way of services between us and our destination, hopefully we shall have a trouble free flight, or enough spare engines to make it to Sabha if not...well... darn, not much wood to knock on around here, or to crash into for that matter...it is one huge sand strip from here to Libya.

Navigation wise, we are following a fairly simple GPS route, nearly direct NE to Sabha crossing the Niger/Libya border, making a slight northish jog to stay clear of a military fly zone around Sabha till we get our clearance to enter it and land. Getting permission to fly through and land in Libya isn't the easiest to accomplish, again, props to Pat's contacts and long history in the area for negotiating a direct route to get his new planes home, and incorporating this baton leg as well.


Speaking of his-story...I learned more about Pat's history in the course of this trip. In the course of talking about my concerns about this Puttinfeld character, it turned out that Pat is actually passingly familiar with the guy. Shortly before Pat retired from his former 'occupation' he got wind of a new up and comer on the other side of the shadow curtain named Puttinfeld. Pat, without getting into any details, let it be known that there was little chance that young Puttinfeld would get anywhere near Pat's long shadow, under which I and the baton are perfectly safe. Pat and Putt, and those like them who deal in the shadow system, have but one surety; a good customer or associate is never back-stabbed, and a good operative is never crossed...an agent who aquired a reputation for being a "For a few Dollars More double crosser" never crosses anyone a second time. Any agents Putt could acquire in the Africas would never cross an old established and cached associate like Pat, and would be more likely buy him a cold beer and swap old war stories if their paths crossed.

I will be following Pat the entire flight, so he starts rolling first. I am very happy that he is going to attempt to clear the sand walls first. The 727 take off roll is shorter than the 707's, so if Pat makes it, we should have no problems. We are both empty except for 1/2 tanks of fuel and a couple crew chiefs each...so we should not have a problem...looking around for wood...damn.

Pat yells "YEEEHAAAA" and rotates easily before drilling into sand...looking good so far. :D

He is clear and we are right behind him and at V1 already.


I think I could have cleared the berm a bit more, but I was making sure my speed was well up...I yell "YEEEHAAA" over the private channel to let Pat know we are on his tail.

And the chase is A-foot, or T-tail as it may...

We are both climbing gradually to 18,000 feet..variable while Pat and I fuss with Autopilots trying to learn their classic quirks along the way.

It's a gorgeous day, mostly clear skies with just a bit of cloud layering for visual interest, couldn't have asked for better...temps keep dropping as we climb, the engines are happy. Around 12,000 feet I turn on pitot heat.

As we near the Libya border, I am gaining confidence and control of the 727 and with Pat's permission and caveat, "Don't hit me...or else you buy both planes" I work my way in closer and practice close in flying.

727 on your Six Pat.

Fun fun.

I actually find it hard to match speed, I suspect it is in part because Pat is goosing his throttles and making it difficult on me, or perhaps he is still messing with the autopilot. I try to stay behind, not sure where he will dodge to next.
Regardless of his occasional zigzagging about, I could definitely use more practice and am glad I went with a double ferry job for this ATWC leg...fun fun.

Looking up.

There was actually some rare southbound traffic as we entered Libya, a 747 cruising at FL280 well above us. Wonder what he thought about us two old classics barreling north in close formation?

Tucking in as close as I dare shortly before Sabha.

The airfield is on our right, we were given instructions to make right traffic for runway 13...on downwind.

Following Pat in, I have clearance to follow directly after Pat, I am going to be cutting it as close as I can without hopefully entering his rear jet wash.

Looks like Pat came in a bit low...but I am in good shape for what is looking like a perfect final.

A quick "Gear check!" on our private channel saves Pat a bit of costly embarrassment in Sabha. :)

Looks like Pat deployed his gear in time from the cloud of rubber smoke. (He meant to do that...right.)

Hopefully Pat has lots of spare brake parts, he is a bit heavy footed on the pedals.

We are parked and ready for some Libyan beer...they do have beer in Libya?


Cheers from Libya and the end of this ATWC section.



Flown in MS FSX Acceleration


ORBx Global/Base

Active Sky Next

REX Direct/Soft Clouds

Captain Sim B707-300

Captain Sim 727-200

FS Recorder


~Capt. Coffee.




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Looked like a really fun flight Matt, but alas I think you might fail in finding beer in Libya..


Rumor has it that Libyans in search of alcohol had to venture in to Tunisia to quench their thirst. 


Details on section 7 are inbound to the inboxes of registered pilots in a very short while!

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Thanks all...it was a fun leg, worried at first when I found that my version of iferouane was down a sand pit...but dealt with it thanks to some chickens pulled out of my top hat. :)

It was also a great chance to compare those two great planes side by side...I can not pick a favorite. A tie in my hangar.

Looking forward to seeing what Captain Stew has in his pot for Section 7.

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I'm not so desperate that I'm going to try mystery regional fermented drinks...gosh only knows what they throw in the fermenter for non-locals.


Besides, I'm pretty certain Pat had a stock of something harder than beer stashed in the 707 somewhere. :D Guaranteed he doesn't fly into dry zones without hydration on board...just wish I'd have gotten a heads up as I hate the hard stuff for regular drinking, and would have packed a couple cases more to my taste.

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