Warmbaths Taildraggers Fly-in 2020


Nylstroom Taildraggers has achieved almost legendary status amongst the general aviation community in South Africa, after ten successful years of hosting the event the good people at Nylstroom had to sadly discontinue the event as the local “Aviation Estate” residents had started using the runway as a thoroughfare creating a very dangerous situation. A decision was made to rather move the event to Warmbaths Airfield before an incident could occur that could have far-reaching implications that could put all events of this nature at risk.

Ivan van der Schaar on morning patrol

Warmbaths Flying Club was only too happy to take on the challenge of organising and hosting the biggest GA fly-in in the country. Taildraggers was originally planned for July but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. As soon as the government announced that the country was to move from level 3 to Level 2 and inter-provincial travel was once again allowed the organising team sprang into motion, with the help and guidance of the Richard and the rest of the Nicholson family, the driving force behind Nylstroom Taildraggers. The event wasn’t widely advertised as some COVID restrictions were still in place limiting numbers of people that may attend. The news however spread through the community and Warmbaths was set to be an amazing event.

Greg Clegg above Warbaths Airfield

Aircraft started arriving very early on Friday morning the first being Derek Hopkins in his RV8, Derek had left his home base almost at first light. During the day there was a steady stream of arrivals with all pilots completing the COVID register on arrival before heading off to set up camp or book into their accommodation for the weekend. By sunset on Friday well over 35 aircraft had landed and things were looking good for a very promising weekend.

Derek Hopkins' RV8

After a flurry of sunset flights, it was time to light the braai fires, open a cold one and spend time with old friends and of course make new ones. Special thanks must go to PilotInsure for assisting in the all too important sustenance needs of all presents.

Sunset Formation

On Saturday morning all the campers were woken to the sound of a radial starting up just before 6:00, the sound of Ivan van der Schaars Boeing Stearman is probably the most amazing alarm clock one could think of. Not to be outdone the crowd from The Coves joined in a magnificent cacophony of aircraft engines including a Pacer, a Cub, a Cessna 170 and a Tigermoth. Greg Clegg and Richard Nicholson Jr joined them in a Jodel D11 and a Bushbaby.

Sunrise Flights

Due to the uncertainty of the Covid regulations and the sale of food it was decided that a breakfast braai was in order, the fires were lit and braai packs were on sale. The airspace progressively got busier as the pilots made their way from far and wide to enjoy the first fly-in since the lock-down was imposed all those months ago. Pilots from as far afield as Mosel Bay made the trip to join the inaugural Warmbaths Taildraggers Fly-in, not all in taildraggers but as always they were forgiven for their indiscretions with a sarcastic chirp.

One couldn’t have ordered better weather, it was hot but the wind behaved itself and conditions remained great throughout the day. Well over one hundred aircraft were counted throughout the day and the spirit was amazing with many friends meeting for the first time in months. All the flying was closely monitored by Nigel Musgrave the safety officer for the weekend.

Nigel Musgrave

The Puma Flying Lions dropped in for a quick visit and entertained all with a brilliant display when they left, for many of us this is the closest thing to watching an airshow we have experienced all year. Scully, Arnie, Ellis and Sean have definitely not lost their touch through the lock-down. The Good year Eagles were planning on joining later in the day but unfortunately cancelled as most of the visiting pilots chose to leave early in the day.

Puma Energy Flying Lions

Many of the visiting pilots flew out again after a few hours, probably due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic and a total mind-shift to what is becoming known as the “new normal”. This sadly put a damper on the normal Saturday evening Taildraggers festivities where prizes were awarded for a host of achievements, hopefully, future events will once again embrace the prize giving and more pilots and pax will join in for an evening of fun.

Savage Bobber and Savage Cub

The EAA, who assisted with the planning of the fly-in, launched their new App members were encouraged to scan a QR Code to earn points for their attendance. The points earned will enter them in a competition and one lucky member will win a trip to Oshkosh with Niel Bowdens annual “Kamp Plakker Fontein” pilgrimage.

Warmbaths Flying Club has stepped up, taken the baton and are running with it, the future of the Taildraggers Fly-in certainly seems to be in good hands. The airfield is perfectly suited to hosting events like this with more than enough lawn area for the campers and more than ample parking for the many aircraft that attend. I am personally already looking forward to next years event.

Warmbaths Airfield

Thank you for a great weekend to the Nicholsons, the Flying Club and the EAA for their contribution, Special thanks to PilotInsure and Gluteck for sponsoring the event. See you all next year.


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