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The Heidelberg Great Train Race – Fly and Drive-In

By Garth Calitz photos by Gerrit 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, Motor Vehicle and Historic Train day at Heidelberg Airfield on Heritage Day.

The day was a huge success with well over 70 visiting aircraft joining the literally hundreds of vintage cars and motorcycles that had come in by road. 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 parked close to the vintage cars creating a wonderful opportunity for photographers to capture 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.

At about 11:00 there was a mass exodus from the airfield to the Heidelberg station as the news spread that the Rovos Rail steam train was on its way. In past events, Reef Steamers supplied the train but they, unfortunately, did not survive the Covid lock-downs and sadly can no longer operate. Rovos Rail however obliged by added Heidelberg to one of their commercial routes.

While the train was making its way slowly to the siding it was joined above by an Alouette formation and Ivan van der Schaar in his beautifully restored Boeing Stearman. Two Harvards from the Puma Energy Flying Lions flew a few passes over the train as it entered the station to the cheers of the unexpectedly large crowd.

The aviation enthusiasts were further treated to a display by the Goodyear Eagles led by veteran Dennis Spence he was flanked by Jason Beamish and Gareth Gill back at the airfield

Soon after their return of the vehicles, the visiting aircraft started departing, bring to a close a very successful Fly/drive-in. When the sunset on Heidelberg Airfield all the organisers could go home with the pride that they were part of a magnificent event.

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