By Andre Venter and some photos by Henri Swart
Arriving at a cold and extremely windy HMS Krugersdorp the cold, however, didn’t stick around and soon it became a windy hot day. The wind was so bad at times that local pilots planning to fly to Sun ‘n Fun at Brits decided against it. Unfortunately, for the Krugersdorp Flying Club, many of them decided to drive to Brits. There seems to be a communication void between the different organisers of these events as some weekends have two or sometimes three events on and others have none at all.
Various stalls had been set up for the expected arrivals, which sadly didn't materialize only six visiting aircraft arrived for what was expected to be a busy day. Krugersdorp is notorious for being difficult to land at when the wind is pumping but there is always the grass cross runway for those that don’t feel comfortable with the crosswind.
The guest of honour for the day was Robert “Bob” Earl and he was everything but pampered, in-fact he was tortured but that was self-inflicted. Robert was planning to tow Dale de Klerk’s IBIS Magic GS700 100m uphill on the runway in a wheelchair. The wheelchair that Robert would be using is specially designed for this purpose the IBIS weighs in at 359kg so even with the special wheelchair this would still prove to be rather difficult.
The Puma Energy Flying Lions dropped in for a quick breakfast and even agreed to do a display. They decided to do a flat display as the windy conditions wouldn’t allow them to do their full display safely.
FAKR is fast becoming Navion territory with more of these aircraft hangared here than anywhere else in the country, one of the others, based at Petit did fly in for a visit.
When it was clear that no other visitors were coming Bob decided it was time for his attempt. He managed to pull the IBIS not only 100m but over 500m a massive task in the nasty Krugersdorp wind but Bob was never on to back out of anything. Bob has spent most of his adult years confined to a wheelchair after he was injured in a helicopter accident near Norvalspont near the Gariep Dam.
Bob recently met up with an old friend and SAAF colleague Neal “Nellis” Ellis, Neal and Bob worked together on Alouette III in the late ‘70s when Bob was operational as an Alo flight engineer and gunner. While catching up Neal told him about a friend that had been injured in a motor accident and suffered very similar injuries to himself. Motheapane is a single mother of a seven-year-old girl, her sole ambition in life is to ensure that her daughter Mpho has the opportunity to receive a good education to equip her to lead a successful life. Motheapane herself had to withdraw from her University studies after losing her job as a result of her injuries.
Bob immediately felt the need to get involved in securing this young lady's future and decided to raise money by means of charity events like this one. Neal brought Motheapane to Krugersdorp to whiteness Bob's effort to pull the aircraft, the emotion shown by all present was almost overwhelming with “big men” reduced to tears.
If anyone feels that they would like to support this worthy cause donations can be made to the following accounts:
ABSA Bank: Stellenbosch
NAME: Neal Ellis
CHEQUE ACC: 1006 211 026
BRANCH CODE: 32-44-10