The Aviation Community of South Africa have once again come together proving that no obstacle is ever too big to overcome. The Covid Flight was established just days after the National Lock-down was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, utilizing the selfless pilots that have widely supported initiatives like “The Children’s Flight” and “The Elders Flight” in the past.
The Covid flight is a Community Based Project, utilizing the Pilots and Sponsors from the General Aviation, Agricultural and Supply Retail chain, to create humanitarian missions to alleviate the suffering of the poor in the rural communities. The initiative is pure charity and relies on the help of everyone who can.
Felix Gosher, with his infectious enthusiasm and unwavering will to do good for others, noticed that there were an increasing number of requests for assistance from people that have lost their ability to feed their families due to the loss of income during the lock-down. Felix with his experience in organising charity events like “The Children’s Flight” and “The Elders Flight” contacted his “Squadron” and pitched the idea to them and before one could say “Coronavirus” the initiative took flight, quite literally.
Pilots were contacted, the fund raising machine was started and soon the donations started rolling in. The legality of these flights was posed a bit of a challenge as there was no clarity on the laws governing general aviation during the lock-down. Felix didn’t hesitate to contact the department of transport, The SACAA and civilian organisations such as AOPA to get clarity on what could and couldn’t be done. The response from the department of transport was one of absolute support.
Sue Smit of the Acron Foundation stepped up to assist with the logistics and managing the donations, this proved to be a massive task as the donations started pouring in large shopping chains like Pick n Pay, Spar and others joined the many private individuals in pledging their support in various guises. A very big thank you must got to Maranda van Dam of Fancy Inc for effectively collecting all the pilot and aircraft detail so permits could be issued to comply with lockdown regulations.
The first mission was flown on 6 April 2020, Menno Parsons flew his loaded Bell 205 ‘Huey’, ZS-HGC. Menno was joined by members of the Van der Walt Family in delivering maize meal to the Bana Ba Kgosi children’s feeding scheme in the hard hit Winterveld area. This was followed by another mission on 7 April also flown by Menno in his trusty ‘Huey’ this time with fresh produce donated by the generous Botes, Henrico, Loutfie and Potgieter, van der Merwe and Briers farming families.
A call was received for assistance of members of the Fochville community that were in dire need of foodstuffs, without hesitation veteran pilot, Derek Hopkins, stepped up and loaded his Vans RV8 full of groceries and made the flight to Fochville where grateful members of the community were there to receive the much needed supplies.
As the innovative gains momentum more and more calls have been received, from all over South Africa to the extent that response teams have been established in Western Cape, Kwazulu Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, the other provinces are sure to follow as the lock-down continues.
Charles Fuller and Janus Erasmus heeded a call and repositioned an Alouette II to Nelspruit and successfully delivered gloves, masks, banana loaves and fresh produce for the Elders of Waterval Boven area.
One must keep in mind that all these missions are being flown at the personal cost of the pilots, these selfless heroes are leaving the safety of their own homes to assist those in need all around our country. To Assist these winged warriors please consider donating. No donation is too small, it can really make a difference in someone’s life as we, as a united nation, try to fight this invisible enemy.
For more information click the picture below