Cruising over Algeria25 February 2023
Contrary to popular belief, the Sahara is not just an endless pit of sand. Quite the contrary: it's a varied landscape covering millions of square miles of upper Africa. Featuring mountains, dormant volcanoes, salt flats, plains and of course the illustrious sand dunes that continuously move and change their shapes under trade winds.
Looking out of my window from 36,000 feet, I think back about the earlier days of my career when I was flying turboprops down there. Flying under contract for several local African airlines, landing on gravel strips and navigating with charts that literally had empty, uncharted areas in them.
Every day was an adventure out there.
I'm also thinking about my grandfather's adventures out here while he was working for a Dutch oil company back in the 1980s, involving low-level flying escapes and other adrenaline-filled adventures that would neatly fit in an Indiana Jones movie. I guess the spirit of adventure runs in our family every generation or so. His hair-raising experiences in the Sahara might even warrant a proper novel one day: who knows.
His adventures also remind me of the 1965 movie “Flight of the Phoenix” I saw as an 4-year-old, a movie that left a lasting impression on me. It's about a group of people surviving an airplane crash in the Sahara desert, dealing with the brutality of local tribes and all the other minor inconveniences one might encounter while trying to survive in the Sahara desert after an aircraft crash.
The survivors eventually manage to escape their predicament by taking off with their makeshift airplane, built out of the wreckage they crashed with. A remake of this movie was launched in 2004, but lacked the magic that fired my imagination back in 1987.
Anyway, the Sahara from above.
Lots of sand, lots of adventures, lots of memories.
Or for the Dutchies: “Hier is helemaal zand.” #dumpert