Ol Karien Gorge

Name ID 1587

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Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 18i
Extract Date: 1996 July 03

Bernard Grzimek's plane

Rian stops the land rover on the crater rim, and we walk a short way through lush forest. The early morning mist is hanging in the trees. Rian pulls back some tall grass, and there is Bernard Grzimek's plane. I find it hard to speak. There is a moment when a story that one has only read or heard becomes a sudden reality. You can touch it. It is true. Michael Grzimek was flying in the Olkarien gorge northwest of here, near the Gol Mountains. The Ruppell's vulture nest there. He hit a vulture in flight, and it went straight through the window and killed him. I can't recall how many times I have stared at a vulture in the air. They must think it strange that such large birds can fly. The trick is to pull up and go over them. Perhaps, they can't judge distance well, but it is always at the last moment that they fold their wings in panic and drop down right in front of you. Michael and his father are buried on the Ngorongoro crater rim.

The askari tells Rian that four hyenas were spotted around my plane last night. I go out to inspect, and I can see all the tracks. One of the great dangers for an airplane in the wilds of Africa can be lions and hyenas chewing your tires. Normally, I can cut thorn brush and pile it around my wheels. This is usually enough of a deterrent to keep the tires full of air. I didn't want to cut thorn brush here, so I took out my can of pyrethrum mosquito repellent and sprayed it all over the wheels. I followed the tracks of the hyenas as they came and smelled the tires, but fortunately it worked. It is also not a good idea to leave any food in the plane. A thin aluminum airplane would be little match for the powerful jaws of a hungry hyena. Sometimes, when I write these stories, I can imagine that they may seem very strange to people who live in other parts of the world.

Confusion here: They find Bernard's plane on the crater rim, and then go on to describe Michael's crash. The remains of his plane are still on the valley floor north of Ol Karien, and not on the crater rim.

Extract ID: 3653