Taking back off at WALF (Where Smef left you) this daunting trip will take you to 11 other airstrips in the middle of the jungle, each posing their own challenges – be it an extremely short runway, high mountains surrounding the airstrip hindering a slow descent, trees or mountains hiding the strip from sight until the very last moment, or airstrips so steep you will need to keep “rolling” until you are at the end, as you will need the entire airstrip length to take off again.
Often the surrounding mountains would make a “go around” impossible, leaving no room for error. I therefore recommend making a reconnaissance flight over the airstrip at higher altitude first, allowing you to check the surroundings and plan your strategy for approach. Often a river offers the option to approach the airstrip at lower altitude. But don’t wonder off following a different river, as there are many of them. Use rocks with specific and easily recognizable shapes as your “key” to make turns to align with the airstrip.
Some of the take-offs can be equally challenging: Often you will need every inch of the runway, and even then you may need to “hop” the trees at the end of the airstrip and use the steep ravine behind it to recover from the resulting stall…
And oh yes: Don’t forget to enjoy the magnificent scenery along the route from one strip to the other! I did the entire trip with the Cessna Grand Caravan. But I do have to admit I sometimes had to restart after a failed landing attempt... Keep on trying until you can do the entire trip without crashing. (And off course with the settings set for maximum realism, crash and stress damage enabled, and no airport markers: No cheating! 😉)
Landing and take off will off course be easier with the Zlin Shock Ultra, but will also take you more time to get from one strip to the other. Often high mountain ridges will need to be cleared, requiring you to climb above 12.000 ft. This is why the Cessna 152 or 172 is less optimal. Other aircrafts may be impossible to land at an airstrip like WANV with only 200m to put the plane down and come to a full stop. Choose your plane, but choose it wisely. And do let us know which aircrafts work, and which won’t.
The total trip is 221km, and will take you 40 minutes with the Caravan – fly overs to determine your landing strategy and eventual post-crash re-starts not included. I have added short notes on the different strips based on my experiences with the Cessna Grand Caravan. I also added the runway I chose. Sometimes this is the only option because of the slope and/or the surroundings, for others you may try the other direction.
After take-off at WALF and successfully clearing the mountains, you immediately get the chance prove your navigation, flying and landing skills to the full extend by trying to land at this extremely short airstrip WANV. You’ll need every inch of the 201m to get the Caravan to a full stop, but there are trees in front of the strip you will need to clear first! The surrounding mountain ridges provide you the additional challenge you were probably still longing for 😊 Take note of the ravine in front of R23. You may need it to recover from a stall after hopping over the trees at take off while still being too low on speed to do so. Don’t be discouraged by this first one. It took me several attempts to get the Caravan finally safely on the ground at WANV also. But when you finally master this, I’m confident you will be able to get the rest of the tour done as well.
Next one up is WANQ. Coming from WANV, you’ll be glad to see this one has more than double the length (465m). And a good thing too, as the location of the strip makes it hard to lose speed for a smooth landing approach.
Follow the river from WANO up north. Choose the left-side of the river when it splits, right after you will find WANN dead ahead.
Again coming from WANO, now follow the right part of the river at the split. Not too hard to conquer as there are no trees blocking the landing path, and the airstrip has a length 430m.
WANU looks fairly easy, but may prove harder than you think to lose sufficient airspeed for the landing with the Caravan. I “overshot” when attempting to land on R25, but managed to put her down at R7.
Follow the river up north, and you’ll see the airstrip on your left. Fairly easy, and with 515m sufficient length to stop – but the surrounding trees prevent a go-around at the last moment.
WAXR and WAXT are a bit “further out” to the East – however I wanted to add them to this trip because of their spectacular location on the mountain slope, making the runway rather steep. WAXR is by far the hardest of the two to align with the runway. But once you have managed touchdown, coming to a stop is not too hard because of the length (413m) and the slope of the airstrip.
Approaching WAXT is a piece of cake compared to WAXR. The runway is a bit shorter (311m), but also fairly steep which helps to come to a stop in time. But make sure not to come to a full stop too soon: Instead use the remaining speed to get all the way “up” to the runway, so you can use the full length for take off again: There is no room for stopping at the end of the runway, only a deep abyss… (Depending on the aircraft you have chosen, getting up there from a stand still may require more power than your engine is able to provide you).
We have used WANO as a landmark to approach WANN and WALD. Now it’s time to (try and) put your craft safely down here. Definitely not the easiest stop on this trip! Beautifully located at a mountain ridge, but rather short. Trees are making it impossible to get a visual of the runway unless you are a lot higher. Surrounding mountains also make the approach more difficult, and to make it even more interesting there is a rather high tree, slightly on the right side at the beginning of runway 9. Can the next person who goes there bring a chainsaw and cut that down please!? Follow the river south coming from WANN. Stay as close as you can to the mountain ridge on your right. The oddly cone-shaped rock is your key to start your left turn to align with WANO.
WANP allows for a nice and clean approach, and with 411m the runway is long enough. Good thing too, because there is a steep drop at the end of runway 3 should you run out.
Also fairly easy. Follow the river up north, keep as far right as the mountain allows you to until you get a visual of R31. 624m, so almost long enough to land an Airbus here 😉
Following the riverbed to the East will bring you to runway 3 of WALF – back where we started this trip.
CONGRATULATIONS!!!! If you have succeeded to land your plane safely (and without using any of the cheating options) on each and every strip of this trip, you can truly state you fully master your aircraft and are able to put it down on virtually any strip where it is physically possible!
Hope you enjoyed it!!!! And PLEASE provide your feedback in the comments seciotn below!