I have now a South African Pilot license. You can judge for yourself, which one looks best, between South Africa, Europe (EASA) or USA (FAA).
My vote goes to South Africa, easily. For sure, the license is best looking. We had to do a written test and answer 20 questions about South Africa Air Law. I prepared using a Foxone app, but since this is a validation of my FAA license, it is much easier and actual questions are left to the discretion of the instructor. We reviewed the material for about one hour and I am proud to announce, I’ve got 20/20 and hence passed. In case anybody ever doubts it, here are my actual answers, as you can see we wrote them on the stationary of the hotel.
If you ever have to take to take that test, don’t sweat it, it is really easy. The next day we went to the Wonderboom airport to do the practical. A pretty senior Cherokee Warrior was valiantly trying to lift us from the runway, but given that both of us (for avoidance of doubt, I mean instructor and I, not Ania and I) were perhaps enjoying good food and drink too much, the airport is at 4,000 feet, it started to be hot and the engine might at some point in time, a while back, develop 150 hp, we struggled to reach our practice altitude of 6,500 feet. But eventually we got there (1500 climb at 150 fpm does take 10 minutes) and did couple of stalls, steep turns and landings at the Freeway Pretoria dirt strip. I was now a proud pilot with a VFR-only license. Wonderbooom is a pretty busy GA field with a lot of training traffic. After firing the engine, you call the ground and say: “Wonderboom ground, Cherokee ZS-EES, good morning”. They return good morning to you and you say “ZS-EES is a Cherokee 150 at apron B, crew of 2, instructions for taxi, General Aviation Area 1, endurance 3 hours, expect 1 hour and return Wonderboom”. After that, the controller says something in a thick South African accent that you have no chance of understanding. Luckily it all seemed obvious to the instructor next to me and we taxied to the runway.
In the afternoon, I made a short flight in a Cessna 182, which we will be taking for the trip. ZS-SOE is a very nicely maintained 1969 Skylane, has a fuel totalizer and seems to be liking 130 knots at 12.6 gph. Not bad! One radio is a bit temperamental, but the other one works fine and frankly, once we get out of here, I don’t expect to use much of the radio.
We already had a short exposure to the local animals, because there is part game, part zoo by the Farm Inn hotel where we are staying. We went for a short ride and saw giraffes, gnu, antelopes, tigers, hyenas, leopards and lions. What a treat.
The guide with lion cubs, he took care of them since birth, but now they are big enough that they need to be behind the fence.
We always thought giraffe is a bizarre being, but she seems unfazed.
Hyenas have the second strongest jaws (after crocodiles), but they want attack unless in a group and you run away.
Tomorrow the departure for the Timbavati Game Reserve and Motswari strip.