Depart: Chlef International Airport, Chlef, Algeria (DAOI)
Arrive: Houari Boumediene Airport, Algiers, Algeria (DAAG)
Aircraft: Beechcraft A36 Bonanza (Carenado) *
Flight Plan: DAOI DAAG
Distance: 95.2 nm
This afternoon's flight will take us from the sleepy town of Chlef to Algiers, the largest, most populous city of Algeria. The weather around Chlef has improved somewhat with lower winds and better visibility, but I'm expecting thick cloud cover over the mountains and our destination in addition to diminished visibility on the ground. Between the weather and Houari Boumediene's status as one of the busiest airports on the African continent, I'd be more comfortable taking something with some IFR capabilities, just in case.
To this end, I'll be flying the Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, a thoroughly modernized variant in Beechcraft's venerable Bonanza line of aircraft. Equipped with Aspen EFD1000 avionics, KFC225 autopilot, and Garmin GNS 430 units, the A36 is a massive technological leap ahead of the spartan aircraft we've been flying so far across the skies of northern Africa. The Bonanza's suite of high-tech features should be more than capable of shooting an IFR approach should the need arise.
Oh, and my favorite feature of the Bonanza? Those big windows. Great views from this plane.
But for all the technology crammed into the A36, it's a real pleasure to hand fly. Takeoff is as smooth as can be, as is the standard rate turn toward the northeast, and the climb to altitude.
As expected, the atmospheric conditions begin to deteriorate as we enter the skies over the Tell Atlas mountains. There are some thick clouds ahead, so this view of Lake Ouled Mellouk and the adjacent national forests may be one of the few landmarks we'll be able to discern during this leg.
While cruising above the clouds it's extremely difficult to catch a glimpse of anything down below. I tune the navigation radio to ALR, the VOR nearest to the our destination airfield. Once we've drawn closer to Algiers, I begin the descent.
When we break out of the clouds, visibility is only about five or six miles. I continue flying toward the VOR until the airport comes into sight. There's a 14 kt wind coming from the northeast, so I line up for runway 05, glad that I'll finally be able to perform a landing without having to deal with excessive crosswinds.
The landing is as smooth as silk and, boy, does it feel good to put the plane down without worrying you're going to go careening off the runway. Landing on a tricycle gear is also a nice change of pace from the conventional undercarriage arrangements that we've had since coming to Africa. Relieved, I taxi to the apron and shut the plane down. Welcome to Algiers!
Next leg: Houari Boumediene Airport, Algiers, Algeria (DAAG) to Mostépha Ben Boulaid Airport, Batna, Algeria (DABT)