By Dian Townsend and Andre Venter
What is aviation? Is it a means of transport for holiday goers and business travellers. Is it a way of getting goods around the world? Or is it just another branch in combat? Although aviation is indeed all of the above, it is also so much more than that. Aviation is magic, it's peace, joy and pure freedom. And sharing this magic with the less fortunate amongst us, the elderly is the goal of Felix Gosher and his amazing team.
On the 22nd of April 2023, a squadron of aircraft, ranging from Cessna to Antonov and Enstrom to Bell Huey, descended upon Brakpan Airfield for what was set to be a very special day.
The guests of honour, the 300 elders arrived too big festivities. Music and commentary provided by Brian Emmnis and his faithful team from Capital Sounds filled the air throughout the day. Scores of food and drink vendors assured nobody was left hungry or thirsty, and a hangar decked out with the finest décor provided a comfortable spot to escape the day's hot sun.
The flying program kicked off at 8 AM sharp with circuits being flown by both the fixed-wing and helicopter fleets. A special thanks goes out to Menno Parsons who treated members of the media to a flip in his iconic Huey.
This was soon followed by the all too familiar rumble of the Flying Lions putting on a beautiful display in their T6 Harvards. Tight formation aerobatics with loops, low passes and fan breaks wowed the spectators.
Lastly, special flights for veterans were flown. Many of these veterans reunited with the types they once served on. These aircraft included the Bosbok, Kudu, Alouettes, Tiger Moth, P51 Mustang and standing in for the man-made-thunder was an L39 flown in from Middelburg by Richard Lovett. For many, this was a very emotional moment some of the veterans actually flew in aircraft that they had operated in the Bush War.
Once the flying was done each and every volunteer pilot and Airforce veteran received a special set of wings from MajGen Matebula who was there representing the current Airforce Chief LtGen Mbambo who sadly was unable to attend.
We normally cover events that stand out for their adrenaline-filled displays, historic value or downright uniqueness, but none of them carries the true essence of aviation quite like Felix's events do. We who have grown accustomed to aviation tend to forget how fortunate we are to be around these machines as much as we do, a reality we are reminded of by the glowing smiles that those little moments of flight had left on the elders' faces.
Seeing how the people in our communities, the volunteers, sponsors, pilots and everyone else involved were able to open their hearts, all with a common goal, is something that can bring a tear to the eye of even the hardest of men. In a rather broken world, these people instil hope in everyone fortunate enough to witness their work.
To everyone who made this event the success it was, thank you so, so much! And may we be blessed with countless more in the years to come! Without the generosity of the sponsors Events like this will just not be possible.