Baragwanath Poker Run – JLPC Centenary
I arrived early at Baragwanath on Saturday 19 November. With the aim to capture a few early photographs of the two famous aircraft that stand guard of airfield. Both aircraft are Ex-SAAF on a Harvard and the other an Impala.
As the morning went on a few members arrived understandable late after celebrating Johannesburg Light Plane Clubs (JLCP) Centenary the previous evening at a lavish function held at the Wanderers Club.
Although JLPC was officially proclaimed in 1927 members were active at the “Old Baragwanath” airfield, just south of Johannesburg, since 1919. On November 15, 1919, a special edition of "The Star" was flown to Durban by Major Alister Miller in a World War I Avro 504 biplane, which is considered as being the first commercial flight in South Africa.
Avro 504 biplane
Aircraft started emerging from the hangers, two of which belonged to the late Michael McAuley. Michael, who sadly passed away a few months ago, was in the merchant navy and several times docked at Durban’s shores, he fell in love with Africa. An opportunity opened up for him so he decided to move to RSA in the late 60’s, it is around that time he attained his PPL on a C150, 40 years later and he was accident or incident free and the longest running JLPC member.
He built the Skybolt ZSUWA along with two other JLPC members – Bob Hay and Brian Roach. Thereafter he assisted in the rebuild of two Supercubs ZS-IOU and ZS-CKU, his own Citabria ZS-WEH and the latest is the Cessna 140 ZS-MZK which had its maiden flight just short of a week ago. Kelly McAuley his daughter, also an accomplished Multi Engine IF Commercial Pilot, has taken up the responsibility of maintain these beautiful aircraft.
Sadly, the turnout for the Poker Run was not great with only five aircraft entering, nevertheless lots of fun was had by those who decided to take part. The aim of the game was for competitors to fly a to five airfields in the area and collect a card from a person at the Airfield. The route took the teams from Bara G to Krugersdorp then on to Tedderfield, the home of the Sling aircraft which was quite apt as two of the competing aircraft were Slings. The next stop on the run was Vereeniging and then on to Parys and Back to Bara. The team with the best hand at the end of the day was declared as the winner, a rather drawn out but fun way to play a hand of poker.
I was invited to fly with Matthew French in his Mooney ZS-DWU, to experience the route first-hand. Matthew is an experienced pilot with vast knowledge of the local area. He got us to our destinations quickly with precision navigation unfortunately the hand we were dealt was rather bad, the experience of flying in one of the icons of general aviation more than made up for the unfortunate hand.
Matthew French's Mooney
A Spitbraai was held at the end of the day and prizes awarded to the winners, unfortunately I could not stay for the festivities.
Mike Blackburn in his Sling 4 manged the best hand and was declared the poker run champion, JLPC Chairman Ron Wheeldon came in second in his Piper Cherokee, Alan Evan-Hanes came in third place in a Piper Supercub.
Mike Blackburn's Sling 4
Ron Wheeldon's Piper Cherokee
Alan Evan-Hanes' Piper Supercub
Thank you, Kelly for the hard work put in by you and your team, and all the members of JLPC at Bara thanks for making me feel so welcome.