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Springs Airfield Annual Fly-in

By Garth Calitz photos by Andre Venter

Saturday saw the latest edition of the annual Springs Airfield Fly-in and it was very well attended with just short of 50 aircraft of all types making their way to Springs from all over Gauteng and surrounding provinces.

The day started off very early for some aviators, a gaggle of Powered Para-gliders had left pretty much at dawn to join the festivities, they however had sent a recovery vehicle to collect them and return them safely to Grasslands Airfield. Flying a powered Para-glider in the turbulent midday heat is no fun at all.

Gavin Brown from Classic Flying Collection had many of his amazing flying machines on display outside their new hangar. The collection of de Havilland Tiger moths and Chipmunks attracted lots of attention. Gavin and his son Steve took two of the Tiger moths for an impressive formation flight over the Springs Airfield.

The enthusiastic people from Military Collectors & Reenactors of SA had once again set up camp close to the main marque. The MCRS was formed to cater for all military collectors and enthusiasts. Interest in military history and the collection of militaria, uniforms and associated artefacts, books, photos, etc. have become very popular worldwide, especially in the last 20 years. The MCRS offers all enthusiasts an organization of like-minded people with whom to share experiences, and collectables and to take part in social events such as re-enactments, displays and Days of Living History. They interact with the public to share our knowledge of military history, take photos and add real hands-on value to museum events.

Rainbow Skyreach the manufacturer of the very popular BushCat is based at Springs and had a few of their wonderful aircraft on display. The original Cheetah LSA was a robust and reliable workhorse. It quickly gained popularity among the South African bush flying community and earned its reputation as a fun flying utility aircraft. Aerodynamic and ergonomic improvements were later made to the aircraft, as well as modifications from worldwide customer feedback, which resulted in the second generation Cheetah XLS. It soon became clear that the role of the aircraft was to serve bush pilots in areas that other light sport aircraft just couldn’t handle. As a result, the focus moved toward making the aeroplane tougher than any other in its class, and able to withstand the might of the veld and tundra – as a result the BushCat was born and has grown in popularity ever since.

The bulk of the visiting aviators came from the ranks of the EAA who always support fly-ins very well. Some of the EAA members had just returned from the annual pilgrimage to the greatest air event in the world, so it was expected that Oshkosh stories would be thrown around during breakfast.

Not to be outdone by the fixed wing component two Alouette helicopters, an Alouette II and Alouette III made the short hop from Brakpan to Springs. Later in the morning, the rotor wings fraternity numbers were bolstered by the arrival of three Gyrocopters from the old Lazertronics airfield.

Just when the visitors were about to leave everyone was treated to a display by the Puma Energy Flying Lions, led by Scully Lavin with his trusty wingmen Arnie Meneghelli and Sean Thackwray. The Flying lions have become regular visitors to fly-ins all over South Africa thanks to the amazing sponsorship by Puma Energy.

East Rand Flying Club now known as Ekurhuleni East Aviation Society went all out to make the visitors feel at home and as always they picked up the tab for the many scrumptious breakfasts served, with the ridiculous price of aviation fuel lately this is very welcome.

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