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BITTERWASSER LODGE AND FLYING CENTER Informations and rules for pilots

Please note the new Freq.

Please take a look to the homepage from Soaring Society of Namibia SSN for further information about Airspace. Here you can download all information

Also new - every PIC need at least English Proficiency Level 4
Your Glider Pilot Licence must be a SPL

Please note: Make sure that you fly on Flight Level !!! That means use standard pressure 1013,25 HPA
Therefore please read the actual SSN Directive No. 5 here

Welcome in Bitterwasser, 

You will here find extraordinary good flying conditions here. But: flying in Namibia is quite different from flying in central Europe.
This information should help you to make your stay in Bitterwasser as agreeable and beyond all as safe as possible.

Arrival day:

In Namibia, day temperatures can climb up to 40°C during the season, but it is a dry, agreeable heat.  However, the extreme 
Temperature difference stresses our body particularly on arrival day, and therefore, you cannot fly on this day as pilot in command (PIC). 
We ask to respect this for security reasons. . 
Tip: Drink a lot of water!

Formalities – before the first flight:
All pilots intending to fly as PIC or as passenger or second pilot must be member of the Bitterwasser International Flying Club (BIFC).
You must therefore, before your first flight, sign a membership statement for the BIFC and its general waiver.
The BIFC membership does not include any insurance. For damages happening during ground or flight operations, the responsibility
lies solely with the pilot or person involved. BIFC declines any liability jn such a case.
Please send, best before your holiday, your licence with medical - scanned – to the CFI Dieter Schwenk at

Aircraft owners please send the registration certificate, proof of insurance and current annual inspection also in advance to this same
address. For your flights in gliders and self-starting gliders in Bitterwasser, we require you to have a minimal amount of flying
experience, which is:
500 hrs. after first license grant
20 hrs. actual flight time in the last 12 months
Special rules apply for powered flight.

Before your first flight as PIC, you will get a briefing introducing  you to the most important points
You are then required to sign a declaration that you are fully familiar with the procedures and that your licenses, start modes und medical
are valid. Bitterwasser flight operations reserves the right to check the flight logs and licenses of the pilots, particularly the experience in
the last 6 months. Of course, all launch methods and extensions that you need to operate the aircraft in Namibia must be registered in your
license and valid.

Pilots new to Bitterwasser must pass a flight check with an instructor or a qualified pilot appointed by the managment. We expect that the flight
is carried out safely in all situations, according tot he rules and regulations and with good airmanship.
We take for granted that you are experienced in aircraft tow and self-start. The Bitterwasser airfield is very large, and we can so to say take off and land in any direction. Nevertheless, there are again and again turbulences on takeoff and on landing, and as every pilot knows, speed – not too much and not too little – must always be adapted to the conditions. The bright sandy soil requires getting used to for many pilots relative to leveling out when landing.

If you use a Namibian registered aircraft, you require a validation of your license. This must be applied for early enough (7 weeks before first flight) tob e available when you arrive. We'll help you to get your validation.
Currently, you must pass a radio procedures examination and the flight check above before the validation is handed over.

Aircraft not registered in Namibia require an overflight permit. This will be applied for by ourselves.

General aspects of flying in Bitterwasser and in Namibia:
In the documents you'll receive upon arrival, you will find in addition to this paper and the forms to be signed a chart of the Bitterwasser airfield and a list of frequencies.  Aeronautical charts in different qualities can be bought at the flight office.

Bitterwasser Flying Centre  (FYBJ, 23° 51' 53" S, 017° 59' 48" E, VAR 14°W) is at an altitude of 1267m (4140 ft.) ASL and is open year round from sunrise to sunset. Bitterwasser has its own frequency ( Bitterwasser Info 123.60 MHz ), which must be used 10 NM around the pan.

View from the air with runway direction:

Bitterwasser flight operations is responsible for safe operations on the airfield. The instructions of the CFO or his assistents  must be closely followed.  Bitterwasser reserves the right to ground pilots which endanger others!  

We do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Irrespective of the regulations of the issuing authority of your license, we require the pilots flying in Bitterwasser to be virtually sober and to stop drinking alcohol at least 8 hrs. before flight.  Pilots feeling unfit to fly for any reason may not fly. Please note that because of altitude and Temperature the performance of your engine is considerably reduced and you need therefore a considerably longer take-off run

Intended FAI – and record flights must be witnessed by a sports witness accredited in Namibia.
For long flights please keep in mind that you are flying over desert and sparesly populated area and that in case of an outlanding, you may have to stay overnight in the desert before you can be retrieved. For such flights, you should carry at least the following equipment attached to the man or the parachute.
·         At least 2l of water per person (do not completely empty the water in the wings not for drinking, but for cooking or washing
·         A torch
·         An aluminum foil
·         3 signalling devices
·         Plaster
·         Signallling mirror
·         Lighter or matches
·         Warm clothing

An assembled kit (without water and clothing) can be borrowed at the flight office. Don't  forget your personal documents, a telephone card, your handy (does not work everywhere) and some local money.

Based on last year's experience, it makes sens to rent a satellite phone. We have found a partner in Namibia who rents such phones. Please use this and talk to us about it already before departure. We bring you in contact to this partner, or we assume the entire process!!! Flying without sun protection and a hat is dangerous and irresponsible!

SPOT or Tracking System is needed per each glider and must be at Pilot or Parachute!

FLARM: Using of Flarm is obligatory and all Centres have OGN Systems. Please make sure to transmit your FLARM ID to Flight Office

Oxygen: Recommended when you are longer than 30 min. above 3600 m QNH and always when above 4000 m. Put the oxygen equipment on rather earlier than later, the thermals in Namibia bring us sometimes into these altitudes with more than 5 m/s.

When outlanding, please report to Bitterwasser or some other flight center or by radio for transmission by others, so that we know where you are!
Flights to Botswana are only permitted, when you have the required release.This will be discussed during the daily briefing.
The general rule is, however, that for flights over Botswana you should keep in mind that an outlanding there represents a great danger not only because of the endless expanse, but also because of the low settlement and the wild animals.
Not to mention the fact that it will take 2-3 days to get you back because of the distance, the absence of appropriate material such as all-terrain trailer and tow vehicle. Please also note that a radio link from ground is not guaranteed and that a long retrieval campaign causes corresponding costs!

Important phone numbers for you:
Handy Flight Office 

+264813030393 NEW

(please check before first flight)
Phone  Bitterwasser: +264(0)63265300
Phone  Bitterwasser2: +264(0)63265390
Pokweni +264(0)63265608
Kiripotib +264(0)62581419
Air Traffic Control: +264(0)6270249094
Accident Hotline +264(0)612088410
Ground operations
To transport crew and gliders on ground, cars are available (sometimes with driver and helper). When not in use, these cars must be parked near the flight office, particularly between 22.00 and 07.30 hrs. These cars may not be parked at the bungalows for the night or in the pan after takeoff!
For security reasons, you must refrain from unnecessary rides through the pan, especially when towing a glider. Aircraft must be pulled to the starting point slowly and carefully with the car, along the rim of the pan and on the designated paths. Once an aircraft is attached, its pilot drives the car himself! Gliders may be parked in the palm alley, facing inwards or on the southern side of runway 11/29, facing north or in front of the bungalows along this runway. At the parking spots, you will find electricity and water (not drinking water!). Parking for powered airplanes will be assigned by Flight Operations. It is not allowed to move powered aircraft in the palm alley under their own power.

Furthermore, please note urgently:
To land on runway 11, called Hoskia, the aircraft must come to a standstill before the first bungalow. Rolling up to the bungalows is prohibited because of people crossing!
Accordingly, with landings on runway 29, the touchdown must be chosen after the bungalows. Flying through the palm-alley is also strictly prohibited!  Furthermore, the aircraft must come to a standstill before the crossing with runway 09/27 HANGAR.
No rolling out within a radius of 100 meters around the main windsock before the palm-alley. The soil is very soft there.

Before your first flight of the day
A briefing will be held every morning at 09.00 hrs. It is mandatory for all the pilots intending to fly that day. 
Every PIC registers himself before takeoff and after landing in the daily log to be found in the flight office. Please legibly, with intended route, possibly record attempt or FAI 1000 or similar, best with the turning point names etc. This is a safety issue; if you are missed in the evening, then the search area can be restricted at least somewhat.

Takeoff and departure from Bitterwasser
The takeoff direction will be communicated during the briefing, but in can, however, change depending on the wind direction (the wind-direction usually changes considerably during the day). With one of the provided or your own car, you pull your glider along the edge of the pan to the communicated takeoff point. Because we do not have one car for each glider, we ask for returning the car as soon as possilble to bring the next glider. – Selfishness is out of place here! At the takeoff point, the gliders can be placed side by side; we usually have enough room.  Check  your aircraft calmly before takeoff and when you are ready, log on to frequency 123.60 MHz giving your callsign and the starting direction, and point out that you take off in 2 minutes, best with the engine not running for better understanding. Please wait for confirmation.

With large numbers of aircraft, the starting process is coordinated by the flight operations manager on site, with just a few, each launch is confirmed by radio. In aerotow it goes without saying that a communication test is performed before departure. Please note that with the start direction 09 the pan has a peninsula-like indentation on the opposite side and the take-off distance is shortened!

After every takeoff, without exception, fly a left hand turn and follow the edge of the pan while climbing. Thus, you can safely land on the pan, should your engine fail.  Within 10 km around the pan, you may fly thermals with left turns only!

Within 20 km/10 NM around the pan, you must listen to the Bitterwasser frequency  123.60 MHz.

Frequency usage inside Glidinz Zone

Please note the TMZ Zones:
Transponder ON at FL 145 - 195 / Squawk 2000 / Freq. 124.700
TMZ Kiripotib FL 100 to FL 145 / Squawk 2000 / Freq. 123.800

Details about all Namibian Airspace you will find here:

Approach and landing in Bitterwasser
From the experience of last season, it has been shown to be useful, that all pilots still flying give Bitterwasser a position report 1 hour before sunset. Thus, flight operations know that they are on the way back, or that everything is in order. If not, appropriate action can be taken in time before sunset.

As soon as you are less than 10 NM from Bitterwasser, change to 123.60 MHz and make a position report stating your position, course and intention.
Plan your approach so that you are able to first overfly the pan in order to find out about wind direction and runway in use. You obtain from Flight Operations the existing wind direction and force of the wind if possible. You choose the landing direction yourself, in consultation with Flight Operations and the other pilots. Should instructions be given by Flight Operations, they must be followed.
To avoid confusion, the two runways 09/27 are designated with the additions HANGAR or PAN.
With the landing direction 09, there are even 3 possibilities:  09 HANGAR09 LEFT and 09 PAN.

the red arrow line show the bush line at the pan,
all south of the bush line is 09 PAN

Furthermore, there are the landing runways 23 left and 36 Hoskia as shown on the map.
Left hand circuits are flown exclusively.  Upon entering downwind, give your callsign and the landing direction and "GEAR DOWN AND LOCKED“ by radio. The airfield circuit should be a normal circuit and not an "airliner approach" – (we like to do a new familiarization flight with the pilot).
Additional communications if required for safety traffic reasons.

Particularly late in the evening, with low sun in the west, we recommend to use directions 09 or 23 depending on the wind. After touchdown, the plane remains on a straight line. No precision landings are required in Bitterwasser, but to stand in the midst oft he pan is not what we would call "good airmanship", particularly with a lot of approaching traffic.

After your landing, a car with a helper comes with a helper to pick you up. Please vacate the runway quickly on a straight path, particularly during the RUSH HOUR! Do not switch off the radio on the plane or listen to the radio in the car or with mobile radios for possible communications!!
Here an example for runway 36
Attention: With rain or with a wet pan, only runways  09/27 HANGAR or 11/29 HOSKIA are in use. Again the hint in reference to the Hoskia: full stop before the first Bungalow, earliest landing point after the  bungalows, and do not roll on the HANGAR runway.

Should you not have radio connection to the ground: check the frequency! Otherwise, watch the windsock and integrate yourself in a normal circuit and land against the wind or in parallel or behind other planes!

Landing 09 - example Standard Approach:
(if animation is not working just klick on picture)


During briefing, the sunset time of the day is communicated. This time is the official end of operations in Bitterwasser. It is for the PIC to exploit the tolerated additional 15 minutes at his own risk. From the 16th minute a landing counts as Night Landing!
Flights with night landing are not valid and may not be posted on the OLC!
If this provision is not adhered to Bitterwasser reserves also the right to pronounce a flight ban!

Landings by night are dangerous and forbidden by law. Nevertheless, should you for any reason find out that you will have to make a night landing, communicate this to the Flight Office as early as possible.  Only like this, we can help you. With cars in the pan, headlights in landing direction and tallights as approach light, we will try to make a temporary lighted runway.

Please enter your landing in the daily log in the Flight Office. Be sure to also add any accomplishment (1000km FAI or 1000 km OLC etc)  Your logger data, provided they contain no airspace violations, etc. can be uploaded to the OLC by yourself. If you do not have a PC here, you can upload your flight, best on a USB stick or a memory card in the Flight Office.
In case of outlanding or landing on unmanned airfields
Should you be forced to make an outlanding, you should as fast as possible communicate your position, best right after your decision to make this landing!
1.       Transmit on 123.80 / 129.60 MHz (FIS) to other pilots and request them to inform Bitterwasser, if necessary with relay.
2.       Transmit on 124.70 MHz (Windhoek RADAR) or try to reach other planes to relay your position to Bitterwasser.
3.       If all above fails, use the emergency frequency 121.50 MHz
When aooroaching unmanned airfields, use 124.8 MHz for the mandatory communications (downwind, base, final)

Radio discipline – Rules around Bitterwasser and Windhoek
Use the English standard phraseology on the radio. Radio communication is a safety feature of which everybody must be able to benefit. Most pilots in Namibia speak English and are used to give position reports in uncontrolled airspace. They expect this also from us glider pilots. We show a bit of professionality when we also do this Special rules and procedures apply for Windhoek TMA/CTA, naturally all in English. This airspace can be entered only with the release of the controller. Entering without radio is forbidden, irresponsible and can cause withdrawal of your license or even worse can make the entire approval of gliding in Namibia in question. We are guests in this country where gliding plays such a minor role so that we do well to keep to the law.
- Where can you still fly so carefree without many air space restrictions, so let's keep to it.

As always, use common sense on the radio. Keep yous communications as short and as precise as possible. Listen to other cmmunications where help might be required. Be specially alert near the Bitterwasser pan, because different pilots might choose and communicate different landing directions.

Glider Area Official Frequency
1. Glider pilots shall not enter controlled airspace, unless in an emergency
2. All glider pilots shall make regular position reports when they hear other traffic within 25 miles. The format of this report shall be the following: (Use the acronym IPTAN)
I – Identity     Say your registration.
P – Position Say your current or imminent position.
T – Time The time at which you will reach the imminent position, or “this time”.
A – Altitude Say your current altitude in FEET on an altimeter setting of 1013 or equivalent. Also say whether you are climbing or descending. 
N – Next Broadcast your next intention, waypoint, direction etc. 
Example:  “Traffic on 123.800 This is V5-GPG. 5miles west of Reoboth at this time at 10400 feet decending. Flying in a south-easterly direction towards Bitterwasser. Conflicting traffic please respond to V5-GPG, west of Reoboth, flying south-eastwards.”
“Traffic on 123.800. This is V5-GPG. I am on radial 235, 78miles of the WHV at this time at 10400 feet descending. Flying in a south-easterly direction towards.....etc.
In other words, find a way to convey your position to other traffic, be it using well known locations like town, dams or roads, OR broadcast your radial and DME of the nearest VOR.
3. Glider pilots shall answer to position reports made by commercial traffic, if there is any chance of being within 25 miles of that traffic.
4. The commercial aviation sector of Namibia is not friendly towards the glider community because there is a perception that glider pilots do not broadcast and therefore present a serious hazard to commercial aviation. This perception, valid or not, is dangerous for the future of gliding in Namibia. Therefore, to combat this perception, there shall be activity on the gliding frequency, and lots of it. 
5. The gliding frequency is for inter traffic communication in ENGLISH. This Frequency shall not be used as a chat frequency. If Glider Pilots want to communicate on a private level they shall temporarily switch to a different frequency.

·         Batteries may be charged in the old or in the new hangar and in the palm alley.
·         Oxygen is available. The bottles must be labeled with your callsign and the name. Please leave the bottles in the evening in the hangar besides the Flight Office.
·         Fuel is available in different qualities. Please label the canister with callsign and name and leave it at the appropriate place in the evening.
·         Necessary repairs – please speak with our team.
When aircraft are chartered, a time for handover must  be coordinated with the Flight Office. Handover is made with a checklist and a handover protocol. Please understand that we cannot do this in hectic, but with the necessary care. After all, we hand over high quality and safety relevant devices.
We can well understand that, when your fine vacation in Bitterwasser comes to its end you want to return your chartered plane right away after your last flight. But here again, a time for handover must  be coordinated with the Flight Office so that handover can be done quietly with the necessary checks and documentation, and not in the dark only.  

Briefing flights by the Flight Office:
to make pilots familiar with the procedures around Bitterwasser briefing flights will be done from authorized pilots from Flight Office. These flights are no training flights! This is just to give the pilots a briefing in the air.

Check flights for Validation or License Renewal by the Flight Office Instructor:
In check flights, the instructor pilot is PIC. This is herewith published and if no written objection has been made, agreed. He then has the appropriate authority to act, taking over control as needed. The charterer must still pay for any damage or possible excess.

Approach Examples:

Standard Approach from West for runway 36 or 05, always with Radio Communication:

Strong wind situation or low approach altitude etc. can be the reason for a varinace approach.
If you come from WEST  and runway 23 is in use, than ask for direct downwind for runway 23 and make the approach like this:

Approach from EAST:
Variation Approach from East for landing on 05 appropriate for 09 and 36 - do not fly over the Windsack!
If you come from East ask for direct downwind 09 and do the approach like this:

Approach from EAST:
Variation Approach from East for landing on 23 - do not fly over the Windsack!
If you come from East ask for direct final 23 (report over the street) and do the approach like this:

Approach from South:
Variation Approach from South for landing on 23 - do not fly over the Windsack!
If you come from South ask abeam crossroad Hoachanas for direct base 23 and do the approach like this:

Approach from South:
Variation Approach from South for landing on 09 Left - do not fly over the Windsack!

If you come from South ask abeam crossroad for direct long downwind for runway 09 L 
follow the street until abeam Hangars and report long downwind runway 09 and fly 90 degrees into the
Hangar direction.
Abeam Hangar report downwind runway 09 L gear down and locked...
approach like this:

Approach from North:
Variation Approach from North - do not fly over the Windsack!

The Dune from Northwest on the line to Bitterwasser will be the section line between North and West approach
every position west of the Dune = West approach
every position east of the Dune = East approach

West approach is standard procedure! - coming from West in a staight line over the pan, over the bushes to the
Windsock position - over Windsock report: over the Windsock and to downwind as already explained.

If you are coming from North and runway 09 or 05 or 36 is in use you can fly direct to downwind abeam Hangars - important to report by radio about your intention!
Use caution that your Altitude at Hangar Position will be below 1700 Meter to have differentiation from incoming
gliders from the WEST !


Approach from North:
Variation Approach from North - do not fly over the Windsack! - for landing on runway 23/27 or 31

If you come from North you can ask by radio for direct final

No confusion - Standard Approach is always from West - all these examples are just a variation of Standard Procedure,
especially if there is a lot of traffic short before sun set and to avoid to much traffic over the pan. 
Important to know that if you hear by radio a request for variation approach that you can imagine where will the other
glider be. Important because of the blinding sun.
In spite of FLARM and reports by Radio - look out - watch the airspace around you - this is one of the important facts to
avoid an accident.

Dieter Schwenk Flight Operation Director