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In Memory of Werner Nel - The Flying Bear

After a lot of soul searching and self-deliberation I have decided to do a report on the memorial of Werner Nel as Werner was instrumental in the formation of Flightline Weekly. Werner very sadly suffered engine failure after take-off which resulted in a fatal spin a week ago on Friday.

Family and Friends flew and drove in from all over to join the celebration of this remarkable young pilot’s life, some from as far as Dubai.

The morning started with a Memorial service held in a nearby school hall, after which everyone made the short trip to Kitty Hawk Airfield, Werner’s second home. Sonja Nel, Werner’s mother, gave a very heartfelt speech pleading with everyone to live life in the positive way Werner always did. Sonja also gave us all a slight insight into Werner’s fight to achieve the great heights he did after his motorcycle accident eight years to the day of his passing.

Neville Ferreira read out a letter from Elton Bondi the chairman of the Sport Aerobatic Club of South Africa, highlighting Werner’s achievements in both aerobatics and every other aspect of his life.

In honour of Werner many of the pilots that flew in decided to do a series of fly pasts under the leadership of Bertus du Preez. An intensive briefing was held and then it was time to get airborne.

Barrie Eeles, Neville Ferreira, Jason Beamish and Eugene du Preez took to the Kitty Hawk skies first and performed a missing man formation as all the other aircraft were holding short of 01.

As soon as the missing man was done the wave of aircraft got airborne, first up was a two ship RV formation led by Andrew Evans, joined by Brandon Petrie.

The next to honour Werner with a flypast was Jonty Esser, in the Yak 52 that Werner was a part owner of before he bought the Zlin 50. Werner also cut his aerobatic teeth in this machine. Jonty was joined by Gregory Clegg and I in Greg’s Jodel D11.

Closely behind us was a three ship formation consisting of a Decathlon, another one of Werner’s favourites, flown by Dirk Coetzee and Marius Labauschagne. They were joined by two Pitts Specials flown by Bertus du Preez and Gary Glasson.

The last of the fixed wings to pay their respects was a two ship formation, Rodney Benn led the formation in his Dornier DO27 followed by Marcus von Steenberge in his ex SAAF Bosbok.

Juba Joubert and Anton von Wiellich were the last in the formation both in Westland Gazelles.

Sonja encouraged everyone to write a personal message to Werner on a balloon and let it go. It was absolutely heart wrenching to see the balloons drift slowly upwards.

The respect shown by all the people present at the memorial was a testament to the positive impact that Werner had on so many lives. His love for life, people and aviation will be an inspiration to me personally for many years to come.

FLYING BEAR is a PBO that Werner initiated a year or two ago when he started working with Marius Prinsloo who designed and built his prostheses.

Werner’s dream was to become an top-class Aerobatic pilot and showcase the charity through taking part in Aerobatic competitions and airshow displays.

In honour of Werner’s memory FLYING BEAR will continue with it’s work to assist child-amputees who can not afford vastly expensive prostheses.

Anyone wanting to become involved can contact Sonja on 082 788 2686.

Fly well my brother, until we meet again.


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