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The Heidelberg Great Train Race - 2020

By Andre Venter

In 1930, a Bentley Sportsman Coupé beat France's Famous Blue Train in a race from Cannes to Calais. This great feat was the inspiration behind organising a Historic Aircraft and Motor Vehicle day at Heidelberg Airfield on Heritage Day.

The event was originally planned as a Plane, Train and Car Race but was later changed to a Fly and Drive-In event, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lock-down rules implemented as a result.

The ongoing pandemic did in no way dampen the spirit of the aviation and vintage vehicle communities, in fact, everyone was hungry for some normality and the turnout definitely reflected this. In total 157 cars raging in age from a 1914 Buick to some wonderful modern sports cars joined the second Heritage day event held at Heidelberg. The aircraft fraternity was not about to be outdone by their ground-bound cousins, 87 aircraft made the trip to Heidelberg.

The morning got off to a very early start with a troop of Powered Para-gliders arriving just after 6:00, They, unfortunately, didn’t stick around for very long as they planned to fly to Springs before the forecast winds arrived. The spectacle of 20 of these flying machines in the air was something to behold.

The Heidelberg locals had prepared breakfast for the early arrivals which didn’t last very long with way more people arriving than was expected. Food stalls were however available for those who missed out on breakfast.

Throughout the morning the airfield was very busy with arriving aircraft, the marshals were kept on their toes attempting to park all the aircraft in their designated areas. The historic aircraft were park close to the vintage cars creating a wonderful opportunity for photographers to capture rear shots of cars and planes from a bygone era. The addition of beautiful period dressed models were brightened up the “old” aircraft and vehicles for the photographers.

The aviation enthusiasts were further treated to two displays, one by the Goodyear eagles and one by the Puma Energy Flying Lions. So far in this “Annus Horribilis” which is 2020, the airshow fans have been starved of any action and the displays by two of the leading airshow teams offered some relief.

While the aerial displays were attracting attention away from the cars at the airfield, the vehicles decided to head off to town for a parade through the streets of Heidelberg.

Soon after their return, the visiting aircraft started departing, bring to a close a very successful Fly/drive-in. Well done to all the wonderful people at Heidelberg for a great day out and we hope to return next year when the train will be part of the spectacle.

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