160108 1 1 Flying High (What I Got for Christmas)

A window falling out of your plane on take-off is not ideal. A gauge stuck in the red whilst flying is not great either. An engine failure mid-flight is the worst of all. However, that had become the norm flying the old Big Life Super Cub over the last few years. 

Fortunately, enough people seemed to care whether I lived or died that they decided enough was enough. An appeal was made to one of Big Life's most generous donors in the US, and they immediately responded by donating towards two-thirds of the cost of a replacement plane. The prize money for the Tusk Prince William Lifetime Achievement Conservation Award made up the difference.

A 12-year-old Top Cub came on the market in Arizona, and she only had 280 hours on her, so in plane terms was like new, and we snapped her up.

It took about a year of headaches to navigate the labyrinth of red tape and shipping lanes, get her wings back on, and have her re-registered in Kenya.

The best Christmas present I have ever had, she certainly is the sweetest Cub I have flown. She jumps into the air more like a helicopter than an airplane, using hardly any runway, which is useful when most landings and take-offs are on ground that never comes close to resembling an airstrip. Even more important, she can fly at about about 35 miles an hour, making it easy to observe wildlife and support our rangers on the ground.

So a huge thank you to our life-saving Big Life supporters and Tusk, who made it possible to put one of the most important tools in field conservation back into our toolbox.