Let's be honest, as a pilot, driving to a fly-in does not make much sense. However, as I set course for Nylstroom early on Saturday morning 13 July 2019, I could not have been happier that I finally had the opportunity to attend this much anticipated fly-in.
The blackness of the night was still covering Centurion as I got in my car for the 2 hour drive. As I progressed through the tollgate and passed the Carousel Casino, I could see that the sun was making headway in its battle with the night. It was not far from the Bela-Bela turnoff where the black turned into purple, blue, pink and orange. The light brought the beautiful Waterberg mountains into sight. As I turned off at the Nyl Plaza tollgate, the sun's rays had pierced through the cold fingers of the night. It was a beautiful day for a fly in!
As I drove into the airfield, I was shown to a parking spot where I alighted from my car in crisp, windless mid-winter air. Beautiful! As I drove in Barrie Eales had just touched down from an early morning flight. I am sure his passenger was delighted!
At the same time, Jason Beamish was preparing to take a young man for a flight I am sure he will not forget in a hurry. There were other pilots that also made use of the beautiful still air.
In a very unusual formation, Richard Nicholson (Jnr) joined Jason in a formation fly past. The airspeed envelope differences were managed perfectly by both pilots.
After this formation, Jason broke off and played for my camera which was beautiful against the morning light.
I then took up position at the side of the runway to capture the arrival of the visiting aircraft that had not flown in the Friday afternoon.
The number of visiting aircraft grew steadily during the course of the morning. I also observed that at this time the flying club was setting up for breakfast and lunch with fires being lit and massive pots of pap being prepared for the visitors. After taking a walk over to the breakfast “hangar” I headed back to the flightline to capture more arrivals.
I then turned my attention to the breakfast on offer. R50 bought you a hearty breakfast and you could also purchase tickets for boerewors rolls and hamburgers to be enjoyed later during the day. I also saw that ex springbok rugby player Bakkies Botha had supplied his signature recipe boerewors and hamburger patties for sale during the day. Around the same area, a public announcement system had been installed and Capt Karl Jensen shared many interesting aviation facts. I always admire Capt Jensen's enthusiasm and the sheer amount of aviation knowledge he possesses. He also interviewed Capt Scully Levin who recently retired from active airline duty at Mango Airlines. Comet Aviation was also on hand to inform interest parties about the latest and greatest Rotax aircraft engines and other exciting aviation products. Skeerpoort Verspreiders were on hand to attend to the fuel needs of the visiting pilots.
With breakfast safely on board, I returned to the buzzing flightline. On my way I passed the ATC tower where I was greeted with a friendly wave from Nigel Musgrave and team.
The fly in was managed by the dynamic father and son team of Richard Snr, his wife Mariette and Richard Nicholson Jnr. It could be seen that they had carefully planned the parking of the aircraft and the execution of their plan worked flawlessly.
Flying and flipping was at the order of the day Here are some of the departures and landings.
At this stage of the day, Capt Scully Levin and Arnie Menneghelli had to depart back to Rand airport. Before departing the area, they wow'ed the crowd with a quick two ship display. Despite it being a two ship display, it still had a great impact as the Pratt & Whitney powered Harvards filled the sky with lots of smoke and beautiful noise. This is why the Puma Energy Flying Lions are held in high regard the world over. The display was simply beautiful!
This type of fly-in is the kind where you need to camp or stay overnight and fly into. I will be back in 2020 however, this time in an aircraft of some description along with my tent and sleeping bag!