By Garth Calitz
Flying for Freedom South Africa couldn’t have chosen a better venue for their celebration of World Rhino Day. The Coves was the place of choice partly due to the close ties with the aviation community at the estate and partly because it is just a beautiful place to be.
The days' events all took place on the waterfront which is looking much better now that the war against the Water Hyacinth seems to being won, the downside however is that a new invasive species has taken hold of the dam. Salvinia minima is yet another South American water plant and are becoming a major headache for the dam side residents. This species is fortunately not as troublesome as the Hyacinth as it is a very small individual plants that float on the water surface.
But back to the Rhino Day celebrations, people started gathering from 10:00 and were treated to a wonderful meal under the tree canopy with a live band to build the mood. Jason Beamish gave the visitors a quick taste of things to come when he went out in his Extra 330LX to check his lines and display area for the main display later in the day.
After lunch and auction was held, the final bid was a very satisfactory R20500.00 for an experience of a lifetime, the chance to spend time with the Flying for Freedom team in the bush. The lucky couple will fly in the Flying for Freedom Helicopter while they dart and de-horn one of the endangered rhinos in a park here in South Africa. JP Fourie, Executive Director of NAC and Resident of The Coves stepped in as a very able auctioneer.
Flying For Freedom SA is a non-profit organization and is all about animals and the conservation of animals. With the use of a helicopter, their founder and pilot Tokkie Botes has sponsored over a thousand hours flying to different sites where help is needed, as well as flying veterinarians to snared animals and assisting with anti-poaching operations.
FFFSA often assists with the engine room work, like trimming the Rhino horns in the North West Parks, Mpumalanga Parks Board, Privately owned Farms, Reserves and The Kruger National Parks to discourage poaching. It does not stop there. From snares to brutally butchered animals to a lonely calf who needs some loving care, Flying For Freedom is there but they need your help to fight! To save our heritage, become a sponsor today! Donate and help them save more animals’ lives! All donations, large and small will be gratefully received. Corporate sponsorship would make a huge difference to them growing this vital organization.
And once again I digress, the lazy afternoon quiet was shattered when Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish took to the air to wow the crowd with a remarkable formation aerobatics display. Sadly all the aviation enthusiasts have missed this type of high energy displays due to not having Airshows for the last year and a half due to the Covid pandemic.
The evening was off to a good start with a DJ keeping everyone entertained and the fires being lit, unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the party but I’m sure things continued in the same lively spirit. Nicole le Roux and her team deserve a great thank you for putting together a wonderful day of entertainment, special thanks to Skeerpoort Versprieders for sponsoring the fuel for the aerobatics displays.