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Kalahari Bundu Bash 2023

By Rob McFie

There are eleven distinct biomes in the world and South Africa has nine. It is, therefore, safe to say that we also have the most diverse countryside to explore by land or air. So my question is. How many of us get to explore one of our most famous, that being the magnificent Kalahari desert biome in the Northern Cape Province?

My guess is not a lot of us unless you are a pilot and are able to attend the Famous Kalahari Bundu Bash. My first and last attendance was exactly twenty years ago in 2003. It was really great to see some of the faces I had not seen since then. Very little has changed in the Kalahari since then, only our ageing faces, if anything at all. Still limited cellphone signal and a wonderful landscape to fly over.

We were a bunch of diverse pilots and aeroplanes that made the event all the more exciting to be there. It was an adventure for anyone attending just to get there and back. For the microlights, gyros and slower aircraft it was a two-day flying adventure just to arrive, Was it worth it? A resounding yes. Flying in the Kalahari has few restrictions. One of the highlights for me was low flying the Hakskeen Pan, the site of the world land speed record, of the Bloodhound jet car fame. The pan is 140 square km and the twenty-seven km long track, although faint, can be observed easily from the air.

There are also one or two Kalahari lodges with acceptable bush runways where you can have a swim and a cup of coffee or a meal. All short flying distances from our camp on the Koppieskraal Pan. I observed gaggles of aircraft departing for early morning sorties and returning after a full day out over the dunes.

It is thanks to Mama and Papa Kalahari of the Mocke family that this event was started way back in 1987. Five friends and Papa Kalahari flew into the Kalahari and the Bundu Bash was born. It was held successfully for a number of years with the last one held ten years ago in 2013. After which Eben Junior made the decision to revive it. Eben is adamant that the entire general aviation group of pilots under 5700kg should be welcomed. So with the help of his brother and sister Gavin and Yolanda who backed the idea and their team, Nita Lize Leoni and Mama and Papa, their folks, The KBB 2023 was successfully organised. Their dedication and organising skills gave us five-star meals, hot showers and flushing toilets. What luxury to experience in the desert on a pan in the most distant part of South Africa from any major town without crossing a border? The communal area consisted of a large Bedouin tent decked out inside like a wedding was taking place. Linen tablecloths and Kalahari-style table decorations adorned. They thought of everything. A fully stocked bar with capable staff. Tea and coffee were available all day, over the course of the weekend Even a place to charge your cell phone.

For those interested in the number 79 aircraft registered to attend. Seven could not attend so that left 72 aircraft in all. In total 127 pilots, co-pilots and ground crew were expected to arrive. Frikkie the fuel man spent the entire KBB with the mammoth task of refuelling all these aircraft. He did it with a smile and grace. Frikkie delivered 12145 litres of fuel throughout the weekend, it sure kept him busy.

Weather wise the climate was great. We had a rising full moon too so the night sky was clear with bright and still air and with mild temperatures day and night. We did have rain on the last night, most of us slept in tents with the odd exceptional bush pilot who slept under his wing without a tent. Such was the diversity of the attending pilots.



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