Megaflyover Reveals Low-Level View Of Africa...

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Small Airplanes In Big Places

Biologist Mike Fay wrapped up eight months of flying at low altitudes above Africa in a 40-year-old single-engine Cessna in January, but he collected so much data and so many pictures that the results are only now starting to be revealed. Last week, an exhibit opened at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., and a documentary film about the expedition debuts on Sept. 22 on the National Geographic Channel. Fay and pilot Peter Ragg created a unique photographic record of the region's ecosystems and the human imprint on the land, using a fuselage-mounted camera that snapped a digital image of the terrain every 20 seconds during their 60,000-mile flight. The two men had some harrowing moments, including loss of oil pressure, engine failure, and encounters with power lines and sandstorms. At night they often slept on the ground next to the airplane. The flyover traveled from Capetown at Africa's southern tip and zigzagged across the continent and Madagascar to the northern coast at Morocco. Fay hopes to use the images and the new map he will make to help persuade the U.S. Congress, United Nations, European Union and the World Bank to change their thinking about funding support for Africa. The trip is also featured in the September issue of National Geographic magazine.