Trip Report – South African Express Airways DeHavilland Dash 8 Series Q400 Turboprop, Cape Town, South Africa (CPT) to Hoedspruit, South Africa (HDS)

To get from CPT to Kruger National Park I booked SA 1241, a flight on South African Airways subsidiary SA Express.  The flight from CPT was direct to HDS, one of the closest airports to the park.

After leaving the Bidvest Premier Lounge it was a short walk to the departure gate.

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Gate C7 CPT domestic terminal

Gate C7 is a bus gate. Bus gates are inconvenient but they provide up-close views of aircraft and airport operations that jet bridges cannot match.  Most jet bridges are like using one metal tube to get to another metal tube.  Walking up to a plane on the tarmac and boarding via stairs feels more like an authentic flying experience.

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Boarding the Dash 8 at CPT. The black material on the leading edges of the wings and vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilizer (the tail) are “boots,” devices that can be slightly inflated to remove ice.

The Dash 8 Q400 is a widely used commuter aircraft.  I’ve flown these planes many times in the US.  Here are the key facts about this aircraft as presented in the SA Express in-flight magazine.20170722_084847

The seat pitch is 31 inches and width is 17 inches.  I had a window seat on the port side.

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Leather seats were nice although legroom was tight.

The flight was scheduled to depart CPT at 9:10am and arrive HDS at 12:35pm.  The straight line distance between CPT and HDS is 1,001 miles.  At  9:11am the captain gave flight and weather info and started the engines.  We departed CPT on runway 19 at 9:18am in light rain and fog.20170725_154933

One of the nice things about high-wing aircraft is seeing the landing gear retract and deploy and the unobstructed views below.

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Climb out took us south over Table Bay and then a climbing left turn to the north to HDS

The cruise altitude was 25,000 feet or flight level 250.  At  9:32am we passed over a snow-capped mountain range.

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South Africa has several ski resorts though not in this location.

The flight attendants (FAs) began the breakfast service at 9:43am.

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Pre-packaged breakfast of ham& Cheese sandwich, yogurt and muesli

For entertainment I read the SA magazine and enjoyed some of the views below.20170608_110524_resized

When my seatmate got up to use the lavatory, I moved to row 19 near the back of the plane.

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I could stretch out here with nobody sitting next to me.

One hour after breakfast the FAs served snacks and beverages.

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I was surprised to get a second service on this flight.

At 11:24am the captain asked that the cabin be prepared for landing.  He said we would be landing to the north on runway 36 and that HDS was reporting 33 degrees celsius.

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Descending to HDS over part of the Drakensberg range
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Hoedspruit

We touched down at 11:52am well before the scheduled time of 12:35pm.  We back taxied on runway 36 and parked at the ramp.

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at HDS

It was a short walk to the small terminal where checked luggage was collected.

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Walk to HDS terminal

Overall Impression

A great flight.  Everything went smoothly.  FA service was great.  Arrival was more than 40 minutes early.  Well done.

 

 

 

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