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Can I do it?

It’s not all that difficult, although we believe (and clients confirm) it is not a trip for novice pilots.  South African flight rules govern Self-Fly SafarisÒ.  You’ve got to be at least a private pilot with a current medical and BFR.

Although a Self-Fly SafariÒ must, by government regulation, be conducted only in VMC and daylight hours, an instrument-rated pilot will be more comfortable.  We impose no minimum level of experience (flight time) but aircraft owners and insurance companies may impose minimum experience (time in type) requirements on the use of specific aircraft.  You should be comfortable flying cross-country in an environment of no radar and spotty radio coverage.  You should be comfortable landing and taking off from 1000-yard bush strips. 


Hanks Aero Adventures prepares you for your Self-Fly SafariÒ with an organized program that unfolds between the time you first book your safari, through your arrival in Johannesburg and your departure on your Self-Fly Safari®.   No other safari outfitter begins your preparations before you leave home.   None offer comparable flight planning material.  

Upon booking you’ll immediately receive our exclusive “Pilot’s Advance Preparation Kit™”.  This contains important information on what to bring, as well as study material with homework for your pilot license validation requirements. On arrival in Johannesburg you’ll have an introductory briefing -- after we’ve met you and delivered you to your hotel.  You’ll also have an extensive pre-departure safari briefing that can take a full afternoon.  

Time consuming flight planning is done for you.  What you need is contained in your extensive “Cockpit Trip Kit™” This is a comprehensive guide to African flying tailored to your specific route.  It is a preflight planning aid for each leg of your safari.  It is also an in-flight cockpit resource.  Reading it and using it gives you perspective and suggestions on flying in Africa.  It gives you more time to enjoy what you’ve come for -- a vacation safari and flying the African bush!   You’ll receive your Cockpit Trip Kit on arrival.  You should begin to read it right away.  We’ll review it with you in your pre-departure briefing. 

The flight instructor who oversees your license validation exercises will brief you on important aspects of African bush flying.  He will answer any questions you have. Pick his brain.  

A working ATC controller will brief you and answer questions on airspace rules in the Johannesburg area and along your Safari route.  Pick his brain, too.  

Safari Dispatch: Your safari launch can be hectic with last minute details.   We are with you at the airport on departure day.  We hand-deliver your validated South African pilot license.  We assist with pre-departure paperwork, fueling, filing a flight plan, returning your rental car, and assist as required.  

Flight monitoring: As a safety practice, Hanks Aero Adventures contacts destination camps after your scheduled arrival time (ETA) to make certain you have arrived as expected.  Failure to arrive on schedule may result in additional search attempts.  This is a customary practice of Hanks Aero Adventures. We are always available to provide advice and optional logistic support as required. 

Trillia Self-Fly Safari Route 2005

photo courtesy of Roy Trillia

Hanks Aero’s Exclusive

Other safari companies exist.  No other supplies these or comparable materials.



We produce a substantial packet of material designed to familiarize pilots with southern African air space, rules of the air, and other information important to your Self-Fly SafariÒ.  The materials are sent on a complementary basis to each Self-Fly SafariÒ pilot. Pilots should study the material before arriving in South Africa. Homework should be done before arrival in South Africa.  Included in the packet’s contents are… 

- Aeronautical chart of Johannesburg area that you will use on your cross-country validation exercise. Self-Fly SafariÒ pilots will be given a set of South Africa WAC and Sectional charts necessary for their actual route when they arrive in South Africa.  

- Airfields of Southern Africa. This unofficial airport directory is the only one of its kind since South Africa publishes no equivalent to the NOAA Airport/Facility Directory .   

- Private Pilot’s Aviation Law. This booklet is a summary of South African flight rules. You’ll refer to this booklet when writing the Air Law written exercise that is part of the pilot license validation process. Dull reading but a necessary reference.  

- Glossary of Flying in southern Africa. This alphabetical listing of terms used by aviators throughout southern Africa is compiled by Hanks Aero Adventures. It is also a useful reference for the Air Law written exercise.  

- Guide to Radio Procedures and Visual Landmarks.

A CD with actual radio transmissions used in areas where you’ll need to know what’s being said and how to respond.  Pilots and ATC personnel speak heavily accented English. This essential guide includes a written transcript of the audio. You’ll also have a guide to landmarks for position reporting in Johannesburg’s congested airspace.   


We prepare an extensive detailed flight guide, tailored to the route you will fly.  The flight planning for a Self-Fly SafariÒ is done for you.  It is detailed in the Cockpit Trip Kit™.  No two guides are identical.  Each is divided into several sections contained in a buffalo-hide folder with clip, in a loose-leaf format.  One section includes flight planning information, route checkpoints, distances, significant airspace, navigation and communication frequencies, a progressive list of alternates, descriptive enroute and destination notes and photographs of destination airstrips.  Another section, a glossary, defines terms and phrases used in Southern African aviation.  Others deal with using telephones in the region, filling out ICAO flight plans and more.  The guide is intended as a practical aid for pilots flying in an unfamiliar environment.  It does not substitute for thorough flight planning by the PIC.  

We started reading it half way along. We should have looked at it before we left.  It’s all in there.  Study the Cockpit Trip Kit.”  J. Fulton, II, March 1997.


To fly South African registered aircraft you must have your pilot license validated in accordance with regulations of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The process involves legal and practical requirements including a written exercise and flight checks done with a flight instructor at a flight school.  No government examiners are involved.  Both the written test and the check rides are easily accomplished in several hours. As a practical matter the process is done over a span of two or three days.  It is not difficult.  

A current pilot license from any country can be validated for flight in a South African-registered aircraft. It need not be an FAA license. We have validated JAR, Canadian, Mexican, and other licenses. The validated South African license you receive is valid for five years or until your own national pilot license expires – whichever comes first.

Before you arrive in South Africa we'll ask you to fax, send by courier, or email to us copies of your pilot license, medical; passport; Certificate of English Language competency; log book pages showing logged PIC time-in-type of the aircraft you will fly or an instructor's sign-off for the specific aircraft you will fly.

Recent experience: Pilots are STRONGLY urged to fly with an instructor in the specific type of aircraft you will fly during your safari. You should review air work; soft, short-field and cross-wind landings; and navigation by pilotage. A US instructor's sign-off will satisfy the South African legal requirements for experience in type if you do not have previously logged PIC time in the type.

Time-in-Type: Owners and insurers of some aircraft available for Self-Fly Safaris™ require pilots to have a minimum amount of experience (logged time) in the aircraft.  For example, use of a C-210 may require a minimum of 500 hours total time and 50 hours time-in-type to satisfy insurance requirements.  A Cessna-182 may require 100 hours total time and 10 in type. We’ll need to know your experience in the specific aircraft you intend to fly. Holders of European pilot licenses should have the specific type aircraft they will fly on safari listed in their licenses (type rating).

Type Specific: All pilots must be current in the aircraft they will fly BEFORE arrival in South Africa.  Being current in a C-182 does NOT qualify you to fly a C-172; being current in a PA-28-180 does NOT qualify you to fly a PA-28-181, etc. 

You must be current.  Your medical must be up to date and, for FAA licenses, you must have a current BFR

ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS: You must have and bring with you to South Africa these documents:

- Pilot license -- private license or higher. A current and valid pilot certificate from any country can be validated.

- Medical: Current certificate (3rd Class or higher);

- Pilot log book showing PIC time in the make and model aircraft you will fly on your safari. An alternative to            this is an instructor’s endorsement in the type, make and model aircraft you will fly in South Africa.  For             European and other pilot licenses the specific aircraft type must appear in your license. If your experience in the aircraft you intend to fly is logged in an old logbook, bring the old one, too. Your FAA license must be current (medical and BFR). 

Validation exercises: After you arrive in South Africa, you will go through several steps that we refer to as the “license validation process”.  This includes several briefings. The Pilot’s Advance Preparation Kit™ includes homework material.  Much of the “bookwork” required can be – should be -- accomplished before you arrive.

- Foreign Pilots Air Law quiz -- a multiple choice, open book, written quiz. Hanks Aero Adventures includes the      test in our Advance Kit along with reference materials so you can familiarize yourself with rules and procedures           before leaving home.

- Flight Check: general-handling and navigation flights with your instructor. Some instructors may combine the handling ride with the cross-country navigational ride.

  - Cross Country Navigational Check -- We define a three-stop round-robin cross-country flight. Our Advance Kit      contains a chart and planning material allowing you to prepare a simple navigation log and basic flight planning      before leaving home.  We will brief you on the route after you arrive. Then fly it with your instructor. 

Expeditious handling: Your South African validated license can be processed and issued before you arrive. It will not be valid until you complete the practical elements of the CAA requirements. So, if you plan your Safari departure on a weekend or public holiday when the South African CAA is closed, then the following steps are essential to save valuable time.

Send to us by courier (FedEx, UPS, DHL) certified photocopies of both sides of your 1) pilot license; 2) current medical certificate; 3) last two pages of your pilot logbook; 4) two color passport-size photos; 5) English language competency certificate if it is not an integral part of your pilot license; 6) The completed, signed license original application form (not a copy) available at www.caa.co.za, under “Licensing and Examinations”, “Application for validation or conversion of foreign license or rating” item CA 61-01.14.

Hanks Aero Adventures will submit the client’s application to the CAA. It will be ready on your arrival.



Photo courtesy of: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd

NOT A PILOT? We also set up private luxury air charter safaris. These tours, that we refer to as Flying Safaris, are tailored to your schedule and lodge preferences. They are flown by professional pilots using aircraft suitable to the size of your party including Cessna 210, Cessna Caravan, PC-12, Beechcraft KingAir and private jets. Former pilots may want to sit “right seat” in the cockpit to monitor the progress of your travels through southern Africa. Your experiences on the ground will be the same enjoyed by Self-Fly Safari parties. You’ll land at bush strips and experience the excitement of game drives and escorted bush walks. You’ll find luxurious lodges, excellent food and wine, and the gracious hospitality found throughout southern Africa. Hanks Aero Adventures attends to every detail and monitors the progress of your tour. Call or email us to arrange your Flying Safari.


Self-Fly Safari® clients tell us various things about the validation exercises they go through in Johannesburg before setting out on their route. 1) The allotted time is too long, and the pre-departure program should be compressed; 2) the allotted time is too short and a more relaxed program would be better. Some think the plan is just right.

Consider a typical situation on arrival in Johannesburg: you’ve spent 10 to 14 hours on an inter-continental jet and you’ve shifted six to nine time zones. Jet lag is an issue. Most passengers are fatigued but manage to make it through Immigration and Customs in a reasonably alert condition. You are met by a driver as you emerge from Customs at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport. You are driven to your Johannesburg area hotel. We meet you there and conduct a short (one hour) initial briefing. This whole process takes about three hours after getting off the plane. We find that clients, at this point, are ready for a drink, dinner, and a good night’s sleep.

On the four-day pre-launch allowance you are in good shape. You’ll get a good night’s rest and have two subsequent days to complete the exercises. However, under the three-day validation scenario you will also have to complete the air law quiz, and plan a cross-country flight before the next day. If you’ve done the homework exercises contained in the Pilot’s Advance Preparation Kit©, then that work is already done and you’re in good shape. If not, your experience may be otherwise.

So, consider what will work best for you. Let us know when you’re working up your itinerary how you’d like to handle it. Your actual validation schedule also depends on whether your arrival in South Africa is early morning or later in the day.

Here’s the FOUR-DAY SCENARIO with a launch on Day 5…

Day 1 – (Beginning Safari Date) Arrive Johannesburg International Airport. Met by a driver and transferred to the Hertford Inn, Lanseria, on the outskirts of Johannesburg for four nights while completing pilot validations. Introductory briefing. Settle in and rest. Have dinner. Go to bed.

Day 2 – ATC briefing; complete cross country flight planning; complete air law written exercise; Instructor’s briefing; handling flight checks. We’ll fetch you from your hotel in the morning and get the process underway. Professionals do all the briefings. You’ll get a chance to focus on some of the differences between flying in the USA and Africa. You’ll familiarize yourself with the cockpit layout and fly with your instructor to feel out the airplane. You’ll get the lay of the land and a taste of how ATC works (and sounds) in Africa’s busiest airspace. Normally you’ll use the same aircraft you’ll take on safari.

Day 3 – Cross country check ride. We’ll try to schedule it for the morning. The balance of the day is for individual safari planning, touring or resting.

Day 4 – Lunch with us followed by an extensive Pre-Departure briefing. Optional morning tours can be arranged with Chris for various activities such as visit the Lesedi Cultural Village, Museum Africa, Soweto, Cradle of Humankind and the Sterkfontein Caves.

Day 5 – Load the aircraft; Fly the African Bush!

THREE-DAY VALIDATION PLAN with the launch on Day 4…

The day (or evening) you arrive and the next day (Days 1 and 2) are intense and busy. You’ll do the flight checks with the instructor without having had a chance to familiarize yourself with the airspace or the aircraft. Some people can do this easily while others, we find, operate much better with a little more time for the whole process.

Day 1 – (Beginning Safari Date) Arrive Johannesburg International Airport. Met by a driver. You are transferred to the Hertford Inn, Lanseria, on the outskirts of Johannesburg for four nights while completing pilot validations. Initial briefing on arrival.


If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to complete the open-book air-law written exercise; you’ll need to flight plan your validation checkride and complete a written navigation log for use the next day.

Day 2 – ATC briefing; turn in Airlaw written test; instructor’s briefing; fly the validation checks.

Day 3 – Extra time in the morning for flying if necessary to complete validation requirements. Lunch with us followed by the extensive afternoon Pre-Departure briefing.

Day 4 -- Load the aircraft; Fly the African Bush!

Launch Day… Hanks Aero Adventures is on hand at Lanseria Airport to facilitate your departure on your Self-Fly SafariÒ. We assist with the return of your rented car, fueling the aircraft, filing flight plans, checking weather, processing through Customs & Immigration if necessary, and completing the aircraft paperwork before the aircraft operator releases the aircraft to you.


Only a pilot who has successfully completed the South African Department of Civil Aviation requirements for foreign pilot license validation may act as Pilot-in-Command (PIC) of a South African-registered aircraft. The client, so qualified, is at all times the PIC of the aircraft. If more than one client has qualified as PIC, then either one or the other may act as PIC. Hanks Aero Adventures Inc. provides no other pilot for the Self-Fly SafariÒ, unless otherwise stated in your contract.

QUALIFIED PILOT: Original documents: valid private pilot certificate, or higher; current Biennial Flight Review sign-off in log book; current Airman’s medical certificate; Log book showing pre-existing PIC time in the type and model of aircraft to be flown on safari. Note: If you have no pre-existing PIC time in the aircraft type an FAA CFI’s sign-off in the specific type satisfies the South African CAA requirement. The Qualified Pilot must also successfully complete the prescribed validation exercises.


Useful loads of small, general aviation aircraft are limited. Aircraft are required to carry 5 liters of water (11 pounds) per person when flying over wilderness areas, as well as a first aid kit. Self-Fly SafariÒ operations are often conducted at high density altitudes due to high airport elevations and high temperatures. Rough surfaces and sloping runways on some bush strips extend take-off runs. Aircraft weight and balance limitations are important considerations for the PIC on a Self-Fly SafariÒ. As a result, we allow no more than two occupants in any C-172. A group of three can travel in a C-182. Groups of four people are required to use a larger aircraft such as a C-206 or C-210. Large groups should consider using multiple-aircraft. In each case, clients and their passengers should carry no more than 25 pounds (12 kg) luggage each, carried in soft-case bags for easy stowage.


The client is responsible for payment of flying time in excess of the agreed upon flight time limit of a Self-Fly SafariÒ as stated in your contract. At the conclusion of the Self-Fly SafariÒ the client will be billed for excess Hobbs time according to prevailing hourly rate for the aircraft in question. Aircraft flight time will be measured according to readings of the Hobbs meter, if one is installed. If no Hobbs meter exists in the aircraft, or if the Hobbs meter is inaccurate, then billable time will be determined by elapsed time shown on the aircraft tachometer multiplied by a factor of 1.2.


Aircraft brokered by Hanks Aero Adventures Inc. for client use may be either company owned or supplied by flight schools, air charter companies, flying clubs, private individuals, and aircraft operators. These aircraft, vetted for commercial use, are required to have periodic inspections, known locally as a Major Periodic Inspection (MPI), done at 100-hour intervals, or annually. In addition the Aviation Maintenance Organization (AMO) responsible for maintenance of the aircraft issues a “Certificate of Safety” certifying the airworthiness of an aircraft. Hanks Aero Adventures Inc determines that both these maintenance requirements are complied with. We make no other representation or warranty, express or implied, about the airworthiness, or other condition of the aircraft, its engine(s), its mechanical and/or electronic components, avionics, airframe, or other components. It is the responsibility of the client, acting in his or her capacity as Pilot-In-Command (PIC), to determine the airworthiness of the aircraft supplied, as required by South African Civil Aviation Regulations.


South African-registered aircraft are maintained in accordance with South African Civil Aviation Authority regulations governing aircraft used for commercial purposes. South African maintenance facilities and standards of workmanship are the best in Africa and good by any international standard.


In the event that mechanical difficulties with the aircraft arise in the course of a Self-Fly SafariÒ an attempt will be made to diagnose and fix the problem. Clients should recognize that it is impossible to determine in advance a fixed scenario for dealing with a disabled aircraft in the bush and with associated collateral issues. By nature, a Self-Fly SafariÒ is conducted in remote locations. Aircraft service facilities, spare parts, and qualified maintenance personnel are not available at bush airstrips. The simple act of communicating the problem to a competent authority takes time; diagnosing the problem, and then mustering needed parts, and qualified labor to repair the problem also takes time. The client and occupants of a disabled aircraft should accept that a delay or curtailment of their planned itinerary is likely.

Be assured that Hanks Aero Adventures will be actively trying to assist the client in this circumstance. We cannot guarantee a glitch-free Self-Fly SafariÒ. However, we will do everything within our power to help deal with any unexpected situation.

Broadly speaking, the following procedures apply: The Client is obliged to call Hanks Aero Adventures Inc. in South Africa to advise of the problem. Hanks Aero Adventures Inc. will contact and liaise with the owner/operator of the aircraft to determine an appropriate course of action. Subsequent instructions are relayed to the client. The client will undertake no repairs or maintenance without authorization from the owner/operator of the aircraft or Hanks Aero Adventures.

Hanks Aero Adventures Inc. is not responsible for the inability of the client to complete a Self-Fly Safari, or a portion thereof, nor for delays, nor for cancellation of a Self-Fly Safari, nor for bookings at accommodations that are lost because of said delays or cancellations, resulting from any problem arising from a defective or unusable aircraft. Unused flight time may be refunded by the owner/operator of the aircraft. Hanks Aero Adventures Inc. will make every effort to secure a refund for unused aircraft flight time in this eventuality.

In the event that fixing the aircraft will take an extended time -- whatever the reason -- the client should consider and be prepared to complete his Self-Fly SafariÒ using other available means of transport such as ground transport, air charter, or commercial carrier. Any expenses so incurred are the responsibility of the client.


Self-Fly SafarisÒ must, according to South African Air Law, be conducted during daylight hours in visual meteorological conditions (VMC). Therefore, it must be recognized that unsuitable flying conditions can disrupt, delay, or even make it impossible to fly a Self-Fly SafariÒ. In the event of adverse conditions be aware that we will do everything we can to help. This may include advice on rerouting, rescheduling accommodations, and other help. Hanks Aero Adventures Inc. will make NO REFUND for unused aircraft flight time in this eventuality.



The owners of aircraft used by clients carry underlying hull and third party liability insurance coverage. Clients using aircraft for Self-Fly SafarisÒ are required to carry insurance covering the deductible portion of the owner’s policy -- known as “Excess” insurance. Coverage for each pilot is mandatory.

EXCESS INSURANCE: Owners and operators of aircraft require pilots to purchase a sub-insurance policy to cover the deductible portion of the owner’s Hull Insurance policy. This is known as “Excess” Insurance. In the event of a claim the Excess policy pays the deductible portion of the owner’s policy. The amount of coverage varies according to the type of aircraft used and the terms of the owner’s underlying Hull Insurance policy. The premium and coverage for this amount is included in the Self-Fly Safari® package.

MEDICAL INSURANCE FOR THE PILOT-IN-COMMAND NOT INCLUDED:  All travel insurance policies we have seen exclude medical coverage to any person acting as crew (PIC) of an aircraft when the injury arises from an aircraft accident.  Self-Fly SafariÒ flights are not charter flights. Under these circumstances you personally, or your normal health insurance policy, are responsible for paying for medical treatment.  Note however, that if the PIC has a travel policy, it will often cover medical costs (up to the limit of the policy) arising from other causes such as an automobile accident, or illness.  If passengers in the Self-Fly SafariÒ aircraft have bought a travel insurance policy and are not acting as crew, they are often covered for injuries arising out of an aircraft accident.  However, read the fine print of the travel insurance policy you purchase to see if it covers or excludes claims arising out of injuries involving a single-engine aircraft.  Also, if you have any questions, ask your own medical insurance agent about coverage in Africa for injuries arising out of an aircraft accident in which you are a crewmember.  

HAZARD:  All safari activity is potentially hazardous.  All flight in an aircraft is potentially hazardous.  Much of Africa is wilderness with unpredictable flying and landing conditions.  Indeed, an integral element of a Self-Fly SafariÒ is the experience of flying an aircraft in this environment.  Nothing is guaranteed.  It is essential that all lawful instructions and advice of Hanks Aero Adventures Inc, its representatives, safari operators, and flight instructors be followed.  

REFUNDS: Refunds will not be made for occasional missed meals or services, nor for any hotel, lodge or camp accommodations not utilized by the client.  No refund will be made for any absence by the client from the Self-Fly SafariÒ tour, or portion thereof.  Further, no refund will be made to the client if he or she fails to obtain a validated South African pilot license.  Further, no refunds will be issued if the Self-Fly SafariÒ is delayed, altered, canceled, or cannot be flown due to unsuitable flying weather, or due to mechanical failure of the aircraft, its engine(s), its avionics, or other components, or due to any and all other factors beyond our control.  

CHANGE OF SCHEDULE: Hanks Aero Adventures operates in a land of unpredictable conditions.  It may, therefore, occasionally be necessary to change the itinerary of a Self-Fly SafariÒ with little or no notice.  Hanks Aero Adventures reserves the right to make these changes without prior client notification or consultation.  We will do everything within our control to maintain the scheduled itinerary and keep our clients fully informed. 

BROKERED AIRCRAFT: Hanks Aero Adventures Inc. may not own aircraft for use by clients on Self-Fly SafarisÒ. Hanks Aero Adventures Inc brokers privately or commercially owned aircraft for clients who are qualified pilots. An agreement governing the terms and conditions of client use of the aircraft is signed between the client and the aircraft owner or operator.

RELEASE FROM LIABILITY: Each safari participant will be required to sign a “Liability Release” form before departure on a Self-Fly SafariÒ.  The intent of this document is two-fold: 1) that the safari participant broadly affirms and acknowledges his or her own responsibility for his or her own actions in participating in a Self-Fly  SafariÒ, and any subsequent consequences; 2) the safari participant agrees that Hanks Aero Adventures Inc will not be held liable for injury, death, damages or other loss suffered by the safari participant arising from his or her participation in a Self-Fly SafariÒ.