By Andre Venter
The Aviation industry must be one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy and will take a long time to recover from the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, this coupled with the demise of SAA, SAX and the difficulties suffered at Comair has left many a pilot in a very difficult position. True to form the aviation community of South Africa rallied to the call by Franz Smit of PilotInsure, to offer their services to pilots that have decided to start new businesses generally outside of the industry.
The Steady Climb innovative was created to assist these pilots, some of whom have been without an income for the last eight months, Franz organised a fly-in to raise awareness for this worthy cause.
The Fly-in was originally planned for Saturday had to be postponed due to the terrible weather that gripped the whole northern part of the country. On Sunday the weather looked marginally better but the weather gurus were predicting that as the day went on things would improve and this time they were 100% correct.
The morning started off the similar low cloud to the day before but as it warmed a bit the cloud started to lift and the aircraft started arriving from all over Gauteng. Rhino Park airfield was wet and muddy but that didn’t dampen the spirit of those that made the trip.
Nigel Musgrave the safety officer for the day arrived very early and gave the go-ahead once he had done a quick inspection of the field. Some parts of the field were a bit muddy but nothing that could threaten the safety of the pilots or aircraft. Franz Smit and his team were also there from very early setting up for the visitors that were all welcomed with a steaming cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast.
Students from LegendSky the local flight school volunteered to spend the day marshalling the visiting aircraft to and from the designated parking area. There was a steady flow of arrivals throughout the morning, close to forty aircraft joined, far less than everyone expected, the weather and the postponement did influence the numbers.
The Puma Energy Flying Loins came from Rand airport to display, unfortunately, they were limited to a flat display as the cloud was still pretty low and it wouldn’t be safe to do their full display.
After a visit to the “Boermark” the visiting pilots started departing by now the weather had cleared and I’m sure they couldn’t wait to get in the air and enjoy the flying before the predicted afternoon thundershowers forced them to get their aircraft back in their hangars.
Seeing the camaraderie amongst the aviation community fills one with hope and hopefully the innovative assist some of the pilots that were affected by all the hardships that they were forced to endure in 2020.
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