The wires lit up on various what’s app groups earlier in the week that there was a fly in breakfast at the second oldest flying club in South Africa. The Witbank Aeronautical Association as it’s now known arranged a brekkie the last day in March slap bang in the middle of the Easter week end. I had my doubts as to what the turn out would be as many folk, I thought would have leveraged the long week end and headed coast-wise, how wrong I was.
There were over 40 aircraft that descended on Witbank to enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at the little clubhouse at the airfield.
My wife Beverly and I had the absolute privilege of flying down with Capt. (ret) Karl Jensen in his immaculate Cessna 170 ZU-VAL from Fly Inn where it is kept in its hangar along with a lifetime of aviation memorabilia and achievements that Karl has amassed as a career pilot over many years.
We blasted off just before 08h00 on the short flight abeam Bronkhorstspruit to Witbank. We joined on a left hand downwind for 04 behind a Savanah and Karl slowed it down to match the speed as we followed the little Aerie onto finals. We had to zig zag a bit for better spacing and Karl pulled off a greaser right on the threshold and took the first turn onto the taxiway, we were ushered into a parking by the friendly folk from the club.
We were welcomed by Dr Robert Clark and the WAA team, all dressed smartly in their WAA branded T shirts and one of the oldest members of the club Ron Davies along with his wife Avril. Ron joined the club in 1954 and leant to fly on a Piper Cub ZS-AZJ. The Davies are family of ours as Bev’s dad Alf was Ron’s older brother. Alfie was also a WAA member for many years, flying all kinds of aircraft at Witbank spanning many years. Alfie passed away in Jan 2017. Ron is now nearing 87 years old and is still active at the club.
It was good to see the amazing turnout and busy circuit adorned with aircraft, which arrived from Nylstroom, Krugersdorp, Petit, Vereeniging, Brakpan, Bara G, Tederfield and various other private strips. We were also treated to a little formo flight by Pierre Gouws and Leon Bornman in two immaculate RV8’s that captured the moment. Resident member Henri Westerman also dusted off his super sleek Glasair ZU-VNE and streaked around the sky to the awe of the folk on the ground.
Mid-morning the planes started to depart and the que to the 04 threshold spanned all the way down the taxiway. We blasted off just before mid-day and headed towards the Kusile power station where Karl pointed out areas that have been damaged by mining, and have not been rehabilitated. There is some toxic water down there that is ugly.
The Kusile power station is impressive from the air and hopefully is on the road to sorting out the problems of the electricity situation in South Africa. We headed past the Bronkhorstspruit dam, did a fly past at Rhino Park and up to Kitty Hawk for a Milkshake.
We landed just behind Wayne Giles and Greg Clegg who were in Wayne’s Bearhawk Patrol ZU- BHP, also inbound from Witbank and we parked on the grass outside the clubhouse. Just as soon as we had shut down, Ali Cat from the restaurant came running with a Milkshake for Karl. This is a ritual that he enjoys every time he lands at Kitty Hawk, he gets a complimentary milk shake, now that’s service. The folk at Kitty Hawk also go above and beyond making the visitors welcome.
There were two Dornier DO 28’s also parked on the grass. One that I have known for many years ZS-LLU that now belongs to Rodney Benn and another one that has recently been immaculately restored at Wonderboom. They took off line astern and the familiar sound of those geared 480 cubic inch engines thundered in the Boschkop valley.
We then blasted off for the short flight back to Fly Inn and spent a few more hours shootin’ the breeze with Karl, Wayne and Greg in Karl’s hangar. It was great day, lots of laughs meeting old friends and making some new, this is what recreational aviation is all about. Many Thanks to Karl and the WAA for their outstanding hospitality, it was a good one.