By Garth Calitz with Photos from 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, coupled with the demise of SAA, SAX, Mango and the multitude of international airlines retrenching South African pilots have left many aviation professionals in a bind. True to form the aviation community of South Africa rallied to the call by Franz Smit from PilotInsure, to offer their services to pilots that have decided to start new businesses generally outside of the industry.
The Steady Climb innovation was created to assist aviation professionals, some of whom have been without an income for well over a year. This was the third fly-in to raise awareness for this worthy cause. The weather played along for a change and delivered a beautiful spring day.
Initially, it was feared that the turn-out would be low, with some aviators publicly objecting to the R500 landing fees that were charged, these fears were put to rest as the aircraft arrived in a steady stream throughout the morning. After all, R500 was a relatively small price to pay for a great day out with like-minded people and the chance to win well over R50000 in donated prizes and of course to assist our fellow aviators in their new ventures.
The aviation fraternity in South Africa never ceases to amaze me with the absolute generosity it displays ever-time a worthy cause arises, and this call was no exception. Prizes ranged from Avgas vouchers to Weekend breakaways to flights in various aircraft and many wonderful prizes in between. There were way too many sponsors to mention but please browse through the logos below and support these generous organizations where possible.
The first aircraft arrived just after sunrise flown by Reon Wiese from Vektor Aviation, Reon and his team have become regular supporters of any aviation-related cause that need assistance. Martin Meyer, a resident at Rhino Park, decided to get airborne in his Urban Air Samba, he then did a couple of circuits before landing, he promptly went to make his contribution by paying the landing fee.
He was intermediately followed by the Rocket Hems Bell 222 helicopter which had the spectators jockeying for positions to get some photos of the monster of a helicopter. Of the forty-odd aircraft that joined on Saturday four of them were helicopters.
The event was planned as an opportunity for businesses to display their offerings as well as being just plain good fun, many of the prize sponsors set up stands under the shady trees at Rhino Park we sincerely hope that the visitors made an effort to support them.
At 11:00 a familiar roar was heard approaching Rhino Park and this immediately created enthusiasm amongst all present, The Puma Energy Flying Lions were inbound. The three-ship formation of Scully and Ellis Levin joined by Sean Thackwray landed and parked front and centre on the flight line. Shortly after that, they took to the sky to wow the spectators, the aviation public is starved for some display flying after almost two years of no airshows.
The departure of the Puma Energy Flying Lions seemed to indicate the home time bell and soon the safety officer, Nigel Musgrave had his hands full with many aircraft departing for their home basses.
Some of the more notable aircraft were the brand new Zenith Super Duty built by Adventure Air, Adventure Air and Zenair signed an agreement to grant Adventure Air the rights to the only professional-build facility In South Africa. This amazing STOL aircraft is the first of the initial five aircraft that are being built at their hi-tech facility at Wonderboom. Three of the five have been completed.
Thanks again to Franz Smit and his team for putting a great event together, Nigel Musgrave for keeping things safe and running smoothly. Future Steady Climb fly-ins and other supporting initiatives have been planned we will be publishing all the detail on our various social media pages.