By Andre Venter
Aviators Paradise hosted a flea market and invited aviators and classic car collectors, the response from the car collectors was, unfortunately, non-existent, the aviation community however came out in far better numbers.
Aviators Paradise is one of the undiscovered gems for aviators in the Gauteng – North West area. The airfield is located next to the R512 between Hartbeespoort Dam and Brits, With its 850m tar runway at an elevation of 3800ft and a reactively short hop from anywhere in Gauteng its definitely an airfield that should be on your visit list.
Aviator's Paradise was developed and owned by Piet Smit and his loyal canine companion Piper. When Piet tragically passed away the Janse Van Rensburg family bought the property with the help of his team is working feverishly to make the airfield a venue of choice for all local aviators.
The Piper & Piper Restaurant, named after both Piper the bullmastiff and the Piper PA-23 Aztec standing outside next to the runway, now under new management headed by John Terblanche, was open and ready to serve breakfast and a welcome cup of coffee to all the visitors. The trike community were the first to arrive, as always, they wanted to get in have a bite to eat and get back home before the temperature picks up too much. Louis Jordaan in his Bat Hawk, Louis is from Silver Creek Estate near Buffelspoort Dam.
Many of the residents were busy working on their aircraft and were more than willing to pull them out of the hangars for the visitors to have a look at. One aircraft that caught my eye was the beautiful Ercoupe which recently migrated to Aviators Paradise from the coast. There are currently only three of these machines in South Africa.
As the day went on the “old faithful” started arriving, and I don’t mean their age but the fact that these individuals support almost all the fly-ins hosted in the northern part of the country. Karl Jensen, Derek Hopkins and Neil Bowden, all EAA members, have earned their place in this elite group of aviators. Ricardo De Bonis joined in his rather odd-looking Air Cam, probably the lightest twin-engine taildragger in the world.
The rotor-wing support for the event came in the form of a Robinson 44 and a Bell 207 from Capital Air, the 207 took a few of the wide-eyed locals for a short but very memorable flight around the area.
John Terblance has big plans for the airfield which include a fuel bay to supply avgas to visitors, there are also plans to start a flying school in the not too distant future. Sadly, the overall turnout wasn’t too great with far fewer people driving and flying in than what was expected, hopefully, this will change as word gets out that Aviators is once again ready to welcome the community for a great meal amongst good people.