I returned from the park a month ago and just after leaving Satara first saw the small SANPARKS plane, with only the pilot inside.. and about half hour later a small commercial plane flying very low between Orpen and Satara....not sure where he was from or where he was going...still wondered about it as I read this thread before I left and was under the impression that no commercial flights are allowed...
The SANParks aircraft might have been our Bantam ultralight aircraft which the rangers use for aerial surveillance and other tasks. It was instrumental in the recent recovery of Duke's left tusk. Check out the story here:
The small commercial aircraft was either the aircraft used to ferry passengers to the concession lodge or it could have been the aircraft used for various census operations.
Our aircraft, a Cessna, has recently been involved with a comprehensive animal census. Read story here:
http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/2007 ... census.php
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) also did a black rhino census using small civilian registered aircraft (for my fellow aviation enthusiasts like Simonb6, a Piper Super Cub and a Christen Huskey). I know there was a story on this somewhere on this website but I can't seem to find it now ...
Just so that you know, no unauthorised civilian aircraft are allowed over the KNP. The charters that fly into the lodges are authorised but have to stick to certain "channels" or "corridors" and altitudes. Procedures for these are laid down in what are called NOTAMS (Notice to Airmen) and are issued by South Africa's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). CAA and SANParks share the responsibility of policing these regulations so if you did see an aircraft and managed to catch the registration, please let us know.