Coast to Coast



An exciting and unique multi-facetted journey of discovery and adventure undertaken by two friends each flying their own trike-type microlight aircraft.


Coast to Coast DVD Available!

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There were two main objectives of The Coast to Coast Expedition:

The first was to record in writing and on film interesting aspects of an incredible flying journey from the east to the west coast of Africa. The route will follow the winding and sometimes turbulent paths of four great rivers - the Zambezi, Chobe, Okavango and Cunene Rivers. Today, as it was since the beginning of time, there are no roads from the one coast to the other - a route that early explorers and traders struggled to establish. Traversing this route can still be undertaken on foot, part of the way by boat or by air. Flying low and slow above the rivers, Olivier and Mike will experience something of what the early explorers did but more so.

The second objective - in the centenary year of powered flight, when many people consider flying as an acceptable everyday event, the majority of people in third world countries know very little about aircraft or flying, have not seen a flying machine close-up and obviously have never been for a flight. Olivier and Mike with their unique way of traveling and viewing the world from above, will share the experience of flying with Africans along the way by showing them a short educational film (on a small LCD monitor) about the history of aviation and then taking some of them for a flight. All their joy of experiencing flight will be recorded so that the amazing adventure can be shared with others at home. Africans are interesting, generous and gentle people and it will be a privilege to be able to share a small part of their lives and give something to them – their first flight.


The route of the expedition is fascinating in it's own right because it has a rich history with monuments and souvenirs left behind by early explorers such as the early African, Arab and Portuguese traders. Famous explorers include the Scottish missionary Dr David Livingstone, the artist Thomas Baines and Cecil John Rhodes.

There are many different African ethnic groups and tribes that live along the rivers - each with their unique culture, traditions, religion and ceremonies. Some of the tribes in Mozambique are the Makua and Shanga who live on the coast, the Tete, Nyanja, Ndan, in the central areas and the Shona in the west. In Zimbabwe the tribes include the Shona and Ndebele, while in Zambia the tribes include the Rotse or Lozi people. In Botswana the Tswana tribe is prevalent, in Angola the Mbundu and the Ovahimba and in Namibia the tribes along the northern border are the Bushmen, the Owanbo, the Herero and the Ovahimba.

In order to preserve the natural habitat and to allow wild animals to live safely there are many game parks along the route – these include the Lower Zambezi National Park, the Mana Pools National Park, the Matusadona National Park, the Zambezi National Park, the Chobe National Park, the Mamili National Park, the Mudumu National Park, the West Caprivi Game Park, the Iona National Park and the Skeleton Coast Park.

Wild animals that Olivier and Mike expect to encounter, even outside the game parks, will probably include Crocodile, Hippo, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, Hyena, Zebra, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Baboons and many kinds of buck such as Waterbuck and the Oryx . Other wildlife includes birds such as the Fish Eagle and Vulture, snakes such as the Puffadder and Black Mamba and insects such as the Black Widow Spider and Scorpion.

Interesting natural and man-made geological features on the route - apart from the paths of the rivers - are Lake Cahora Bassa, Lake Kariba, the incredible Victoria Falls and the Namib Desert.


Olivier Aubert and Mike Blyth are best of friends with a thirst for adventure. To date they have undertaken 3 flying expeditions together:

The first in 1995, called the Cape to Cape Expedition, where they flew from Cape Town in South Africa to North Cape in Norway, a distance of 21,000 km over 4 months.

The second in 1999, called the South to South Expedition, where they flew from Buenos Aires in Argentina via the north Atlantic (Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland) to Cape Town in South Africa, a distance of 43,000 km over 8 months.

The third being the 2003 Namibian Adventure, where they flew extensively in the central and northern areas of the Namib Desert, on a voyage of discovery and filming of wildlife, African tribal cultures and landscapes.

Olivier Aubert (47), Swiss, is single and lives partly in Zurich. Olivier makes a living from photojournalism, film making and organizing driving and flying safaris in southern Africa. Olivier will continue with his adventurous expedition flying with Mike.

Mike Blyth (50), South African, is married and lives in Johannesburg. He owns a small microlight engine import business and will also continue with his expedition flying, filming and writing with Olivier.

THE AIRCRAFT – two trike type microlights

Olivier's trike is a DTA Voyageur. It was specially manufactured by DTA in France for long distance endurance flying expeditions.

Mike's trike is an Aerotrike Cobra. It was manufactured by Rainbow Aircraft in South Africa and is also specially made for expeditions. Both trikes are 2-seaters.

Some specifications of both trikes:

Cruising speed: 95 km/h
Range: 550 km
Maximum payload (including fuel): 230 kg
Fuel used: Mogas (automotive fuel) or Avgas (aircraft fuel)
Take off distance at sea level: 100 m
Landing distance: 80 m
Communication: Aircraft radios for communication between trikes and other air traffic
Navigation: Global Positioning Systems, altimeters, compasses
Both trikes have engine-monitoring instruments fitted.
Pilots wear flying suits, helmets, and gloves
Additional loose items carried include:
Camping equipment, filming and writing equipment, medical aid kits, personal attire, spare parts, tool kits, cooking and eating equipment, food, water and whenever possible a bottle of red wine.

THE ROUTE (only main stop-over points listed)

South Africa

  • Johannesburg
  • Nelspruit
  • Mozambique
  • Maputo
  • Inhambane
  • Beira
  • The Zambezi River  (1,800 km)
  • Chinde (at the mouth of the Zambezi)
  • Tete
  • Lake Cahora Bassa
  • Zimbabwe and Zambia
  • Kariba
  • Lake Kariba
  • Victoria Falls and Livinstone
  • Kazungulu (leave the Zambezi River and join the Chobe River)
  • Namibia

    The Chobe / Linyanti / Kwando River (400 km) (name changes for different sections of the same river)
    Sifuma (leave the Kwando River)
    The Okanvango River (520 km)
    Kwaviyi (Join the Okavango River)
        Katwitwi (leave the Okavango River)
    The Cunene River (380 km)
        Foz do Cunene (near the mouth of the Cunene)

  • Botswana
  • Kang
  • Gaborone
  • South Africa
  • Pilandsberg
  • Johannesburg

Total distance to be flown from the mouth of the Zambezi to the mouth of the Cunene, including distances between the different rivers will be approximately 5,200 km. The total distance from Johannesburg and back will be approximately 12,000 km including all local flights.


Starting after the summer rains have passed and before the cold of winter sets in, Olivier and Mike left Johannesburg at the end of March 2004 and returned in early July 2004 – a total time of just over 3 months.

Map of southern / central Africa showing the Coast to Coast Expedition route.


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