By Andre Venter
Rhino Park Airfield to the east of Pretoria was the host for the fourth Steady Climb Fly-in and Expo, the innovative was the brainchild of Franz Smit from Pilot Insure. Franz watched the steady decline of the aviation industry during the Covid pandemic and decided to assist people that had been forced to find alternative income streams outside aviation.
Aviation professionals that have found themselves unemployed were encouraged to exhibit their “new” ventures at the expo. The first of which was held at Rhino Park in December of last year.
Sadly, the weather had a major influence on the turnout at the fly-in, Krugersdorp was hit by quite a heavy thunderstorm on Saturday morning effectively grounding everyone that was planning on visiting from that airfield. The weather at the other airports around Gauteng wasn’t much better and many pilots decided to rather play it safe and stay on the ground.
During the morning twenty aircraft braved the elements to support this very worthy cause. Included in this number were the four Harvards from the Puma Energy Flying Lions that managed to find a gap in the weather to get out of Rand Airport. Scully Levin and the rest of the team were only too happy to chat to some members of the local Air Scout Troop, the young enthusiast were invited to climb into the iconic Harvards cockpit a privilege I’m sure won't be forgotten any time soon.
The Puma Energy Flying Lions then took to the rather gloomy sky and delivered one of their trademark display of precision formation aerobatics. The airshow starved crowd loved every minute of the display, airshows have sadly been a major casualty of the pandemic.
The exhibitors were all willing to share their products with the relatively large crowd, many aviators opted to drive to the event to support the cause. The resilience of the people that were left grounded due to the decline in the aviation sector was evident with the diversity of products and services on offer. Anything from emigration services for aviators to high-quality sunglasses were on offer.
With the threat of more rain in the afternoon, most of the visiting aircraft departed relatively early, despite the low turnout the day was still a huge success. A special word of thanks must go to David le Roux and his team for organising a wonderful event, Nigel Musgrave, the safety officer for the day quietly got on with his mammoth task of manning the ATC radio as well as making sure everything went smoothly on the apron. The safety crew are often overlooked at these events but without their dedication events like this will simply not happen.
I hope to see you all at the next Steady Climb fly-in which is planned for 9 April, hopefully, the weather will be much better for that one.