Route Change / Fuel Gauge?

[By way of an update, here's a look at the coordination and planning required to perform month-long, multi-aircraft voyage such as this. Here is a portion of an exchange between safari coordinator Nick Hanks and pilot Mike Lester:]

Dear Pilots –

Our plan to have you fly Saturday to Pilanesburg (FAPN) then Maun (FBMN) has met with a problem – resulting a necessary change of routing. Double-checking on fuel, Pilanesburg reports they are out of avgas and do not expect replenishment until next week. The Customs & Immigration people are there on Saturday. Accordingly, we recommend the following routing:

Madikwe (FAMK) > Pilanesburg (FAPN) 55 nm > Gaborone (FBSK) 83nm > Vumbura (FBVumbu) 376nm.

Total distance: 514nm with 2 intermediate stops.

  • At Pilanesburg: Customs & Immigration (outbound from South Africa).
  • At Gaborone:  Customs & Immigration (inbound to Botswana), refuel.
  • From Gaborone fly direct to Vumbura.

Assumption: You have enough fuel on board now to fly from Madikwe to Pilanesburg to Gaborone (138nm with the intermediate landing at Pilanesburg).

With full tanks departing Gaborone you would land at Vumbura after 3.2 hours flight, leaving you a reserve of 1.2 hours. This route takes you right over Maun.  If you decided you wanted greater fuel reserves you could stop at Maun (divert to the listed alternate) and refuel before completing your days’ flying to Vumbura. However this adds a third intermediate stop on what is already a long flying day.

  • Without an intermediate stop at Maun on the way north you would need to fly Vumbura > Maun (70nm, estimating 40 minutes flight time)
    • on the day you departed Vumbura, or
    • sometime during your three-day stay there.

Based on my calculation you would land at Maun with a reserve of 0.5 hours where you would refuel. From there, depending on when you did it, you

  • return to Vumbura, or
  • proceed as planned to Francistown (FBFT) and Limpopo Valley (FBLV).

Other routings are possible, given this chink in the chain. However, all involve greater distances and more intermediate stops.

Can we set this routing up for you?  A text saying “yes” will suffice for us to proceed. If so I will email a bare-bones route log for these new legs and flight plan reference numbers.

The adventure continues!



[and Mike's response:]

We do not have enough fuel to make that trip. Only 41 gals at 25gph and 100kts based on what we have averaged so far. Need another option. 

Best regards,


[No word yet on what that other option was, but it shows how even the contingency plans need contingency plans. Looking forward to hearing how this turned out. -Layne]

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