Author Archives: Dian Townsend

Steady Climb Fly-In #3

As the sun rose over the Rhino Park Airfield on a cool September Saturday morning, the air began to fill with the sound of aircraft engines. It was time for the third installment of the Steady Climb Fly-In.

The event was hosted by PilotInsure in conjunction with Steady Climb, a fund raiser initiated by PilotInsure to assist the pilots who have had to adapt their livelihoods to make a living.

As usual, the flying was great! The weather held up beautifully for the biggest part of the day, with the clouds only giving the photographers a headache during the Puma Energy Flying Lions Aerobatic Team display.

There were quite a few interesting visitors to the likes of the Puma Energy Flying Lions Aerobatic Team, a Bell 222 from Rocket HEMS and even a Piaggio P.166 Albatross.

Once again being an event for the people, spectators were allowed to walk around the various aircraft parked on the grass apron and enjoy a good chat with pilots and fellow aviators.

The Puma Energy Flying Lions display commenced at around 11h00. Unfortunately the clouds made for some rather bad lighting for photography, but the display was thoroughly enjoyed regardless.

After the Flying Lions had departed, the various pilots that attended the fly-in also began to head home. This event had no shortage of spectacular departures, with a highlight definitely being that Albatross low pass!

One lucky winner also received a flip in the orange Mighty Mouse Harvard! The flip ended with some superb low passes and aerobatics overhead the airfield, well and truly ending the day off with a bang!

Us aviation enthusiast have been left dry over the last few months, with this event being my first aviation event in exactly 3 months. It is therefore absolutely fantastic to see events like this making a return!

Although at time of writing, events are still very scarce, but with the recently announced move to level 2 lockdown, we hope to see smaller events like this making a comeback.

* All the required COVID-19 related health and safety measures were in place. Photos taken whilst adhering to all of these protocols. 

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Gyrocopter Used In Local Crime Fighting

Private security companies, Wierdabrug police and Sector 3 CPF came together to fight a recent increase in street robberies in the Raslouw and Heuwelsig community.

Their goal was to nake their presence known and show that they are fighting to stop these crimes in the future.

The robberies are targeted at workers who pass through the area in the afternoon. The robbers are usually after the workers’ money, Monitor Net spokesperson Jp le Roux explained.

As well as the workers, joggers have reported being robbed of their valuables and motorists have fallen victim to the smash and grab tactic.

A Gyrocopter flown by Andre Van zyl was used in the operation. Jp le Roux said that more of these operations will be carried out during the holiday season.

Children’s Flight 2020

On the 6th of November 2020 an army of aviators descended upon Orient
Airfield just outside of Magaliesburg. Their mission was to give 30 children,
from different charities, a Willy Wonka like experience through aviation.

The flying program commenced at 08:30 with a paradrop from the Atlas Angel. This was followed by the children getting individual flips in fixed wing aircraft. These aircraft included many Van’s RV variants, a Cessna 140, FK9, Sling 4, Navion, Mushshak and more.

The fixed wing flips took a pause at 11:00 as the rumble of Pratt and Whitney radials was heard. Soon the 4-ship Puma Energy Flying Lions came roaring overhead. The children were treated to a fantastic display by Scully Levin, Ellis Levin, Arnie Meneghelli and Sean Thackwray.

After the last children had enjoyed their fixed wing flights, the rotary wing flips begun. The 2 Alouettes flown by Charles Fuller and Rob Osner made light work of the Orient Circuit.

Whilst the flips were being flown, the children also competed in a color in competition and a balsa wood glider building competition. The two winners got a flip in a glider after the fixed wing and rotary wing flips. This means that two of the children experienced fixed wing powered flight, rotary wing flight and glider flight all in their first ever day of flying!

The two lucky children that won a glider flight were: Romy Dekoker – color in competition and Bontle Ipeleng – balsa glider competition.

This year has changed aviation as we know it. Events like the Children’s Flight especially have been forced to adapt. Although only 30 children got to experience the magic of flight this year, the success of the event is undoubted.


This success however could not have been possible without each and every sponsor that opened their hearts and wallets towards the event. This ranges from all the companies that helped with donations, the private individuals that all donated as well as everyone that took part in the raffle to fly with some of South Africa’s top pilots.

The pilots that made up the huge Children’s Flight Squadron were:

Nigel Hopkins – RV8
Patrick Davidson – RV7
Trevor Warner – RV7
Elton Bondi – C140
Derek Hopkins – RV7
Johan van Solms – RV7
Grant Timms – Mushak
Charles Fuller – Alouette II
Rob Osner Alouette III
Daniel Ralefeta – FK9
Goitse Diale – Sling 4
Ryan Beeton – RV7
Scully Levin – Flying Lions
Arnie Meneghelli – Flying Lions
Ellis Levin – Flying LionsSean Thackwray – Flying Lions
Karl van Seyldlitz – SF25
Arjan Schaap – Navion
Tokkie Botes – Bell 206
Riaan Denner – SF25
Clyde Strachan – Beechcraft Baron

And lastly, the group that brought it all together, Felix Gosher and his
organizing team. Felix is an incredible person that does wonders through his different aviation initiatives like the Children’s Flight, Elders Flight and more recently, the COVID Flight and Repat Flight.

We get so used to thinking of aviation as a means of transport or form of entertainment. It is events like these that truly makes one realize what aviation really is. Aviation is magic and the joy it can bring people is priceless. No photos or videos can suffice in capturing the joy aviation has brought these
children.

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COVID Aviation Trips – Rand Airport

By now most of us have been absolutely deprived of aviation. Unfortunately all airshows for 2020 have been either postponed or cancelled. This leaves us with almost no aviation action, or does it?

In the coming weeks, we will be looking at different smaller aviation spots that can help scratch that aviation itch that has been annoying us all during this lockdown.

In the third installment in this series we are looking at yet another smaller airport in Gauteng. Rand Airport is a great spot to feel the wind coming off aircraft and smell the turbine exhaust.

What makes Rand great is the fact that it has more than one great spots. The first of these being the SAA Museum located at the Eastern side of the airport.

The museum has many historic SAA aircraft like 737s, DC-4s and 747s where one can get the opportunity to not only admire them from the outside, but also from within.

At the museum one can also find the Dakotas Pub and Grill. From the restaurant one has a nice view of Runway 29 takeoffs and landings as well as some taxiway action.

The second spot at Rand Airport is another Harvard Cafe. Just like the one at Grand Central, this restaurant offers a nice view of the apron, with great food and a play area for children.

Rand Airport is home to many beautiful aircraft like the Flying Lions, Cows Pitts, Goodyear Eagles, Menno Parsons’ collection and many more.

P51D Mustang
Springbok Classic Beech 18
Cessna 208A Caravan ZS-NKG
SAPS Airwing Airbus H125 ZS-RNR
Boeing Stearman
Bell 222 ZS-HDK
Bell UH-1H Iroquois Serial 11162 ZS-HLZ 

This airport makes for another great outing during these times where aviation seems to be a scarcity. With the SAA Museum and Harvard Cafe one can easily get two unique trips out of this one spot.

COVID Aviation Trips – SAAF Museum Swartkop

By now most of us have been absolutely deprived of aviation. Unfortunately all airshows for 2020 have been either postponed or cancelled. This leaves us with almost no aviation action, or does it?

In the coming weeks, we will be looking at different smaller aviation spots that can help scratch that aviation itch that has been annoying us all during this lockdown.

In the second installment of this series we’ll be looking at the Swartkop, South African Air force (SAAF) Museum branch. With the museum opening to the public on the 1st of October 2020, this makes for another spot where aviation enthusiast can experience some aviation action.

The SAAF Museum hosts many ex-SAAF aircraft ranging from Impalas to Cheetahs and Alouette to Puma. The hangars bare host to most of the museum’s static aircraft.

At time of writing the museum will only be open to the public on Mondays to Thursday from 08h30 to 14h00. When we will see Saturday Flight Training days again is not yet known, but pilots that have not flown since the beginning of Lockdown have been flying in the weeks so there is always a chance of seeing some aircraft in the air as well.

We look forward to spending some time at the museum again soon. As always, entry to the museum is free, but a donation goes a long way towards preserving our aviation heritage.

COVID Aviation Trips – Grand Central

By now most of us have been absolutely deprived of aviation. Unfortunately all airshows for 2020 have been either postponed or cancelled. This leaves us with almost no aviation action, or does it?

In the coming weeks, we will be looking at different smaller aviation spots that can help scratch that aviation itch that has been annoying us all during this lockdown.

The first spot we’ll be visiting is Grand Central Airport. Sporting a Harvard Café with a lovely view of the apron, this makes for a good spot to get your dose of Vitamin A(viation).

The Harvard Café offers a wide selection of drinks and food ranging from cool drinks to beer and burgers to sushi.
The children’s play area at the Harvard Café makes this a great place to bring the whole family.

Grand Central Airport is a smaller regional airport with no commercial airlines operating out of the airport. This does not mean that there isn’t much to see though.

Many pilots based at the airport take to the skies here over the weekends. Here there is no shortage of Cessna’s, Robinson Heli’s and even the occasional King Air and Aero Commander 500B as seen below.

As the name suggests, Grand Central is very centrally located, making it not a very long drive from most locations in Gauteng.

Photos taken at Grand Central recently:

LSA Gauteng Regionals 2020

As South Africa moves to Level 2 of the nationwide lockdown, people can go out and enjoy their outdoor hobbies again. One of these hobbies is RC Flying. On the 23rd of August, LSA (Large Scale Aerobatics) hosted their Gauteng Regional Competition at the Rand Model Aeronautical Club.

Pilots took off from the various runways at the flying club and then started with their flying routine. 2020 IMAC Known Sequences were flown in all classes with pilots having the opportunity to fly Unknown and Freestyle sequences as well.

Unfortunately with level 2 of the lockdown only allowing for up to 50 people at social gatherings, spectators were not allowed at the event.

Although we know many aviation enthusiast are hungered out for some flying action and are disappointed that most events are still off limits to the public, there is a light at the end of the tunnel…

Airports are starting to open up again with trips to Rand Airport and Grand Central becoming more and more worthwhile. Event planning for 2021 has also commenced. Keep an eye on the Aviation Central Facebook Page to be the first to know about events happening in the near future! 

London To Cape Town First Flight 100 Years Celebrations

On the 4th of February 1920 two South African pilots set out to complete the first flight between London and Cape Town. This grueling flight took Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Van Reyneveld and Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Joseph Quintin Brand nearly 46 days to complete.

On the 14th of March 2020 this feat of aviation was celebrated at the University Of Pretoria with fly-bys from historic aircraft. The public was invited to bring their picnic baskrts and enjoy the day next to the sport fields.

The fly-bys commenced at 12h00 with the always excellent, Brian Emmenis and Elvis Manene from Capital Sounds, keeping the spectators well informed on the history of the different aircraft taking part.

The first display was that of the pristine Tiger Moth flown by Colonel Jeff Earl, soon followed by an Auster. After the Tiger Moth and Auster had left, it was the turn of the Boeing Stearman flown by Ivan Van Der Schaar.

Two beautiful De-Haviland DHC-1 Chipmunks then had their turn, led by Grant Timms.

After the Chipmunks, the spectators prepared for the fastest aircraft on the day’s list. Doing just over Mach 1 with full afterburners on, the Antonov AN-2 ‘Little Annie’ piloted by Mark and Jon-Marc Hill rocketed overhead.

Following Little Annie was an Alouette II and III, flown by Charles Fuller and Rob Osner.
Staying with helicopters was a McDonnell Douglas ‘Hughes’ 500C flown by Kim Prately.

The skies then filled with a familiar sound in Pretoria on a Saturday Morning. A formation of 3 Bosbok Aircraft came over with Jason Beamish showing us the meneuverability of the Bosbok by doing a knife edge.

The last of the fly-bys was from probably the best known classic aircarft in South Africa. Known to pilots as the ‘Spammy’ or Harvard operated by the Puma Energy Flying Lions Aerobatic Team put up a wonderful show. The 3 ship flew their always impressive tight formation aerobatics.

This has once again been a perfect example of the smaller aviation events really standing out. Well done to everyone who made sure the day was such a massive success.

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