On Heritage Day, 24 September, the highly anticipated Rhino Park went ahead despite the terrible weather that everyone woke up to on the lazy holiday morning. Puma Energy, the sponsors of the event, had requested that pilots flying in registered online for catering and control purposes, unfortunately of the sixty registered aircraft only fourteen manged to make it on the day. The majority of the visitors came from Krugersdorp’s Jack Taylor airfield.
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Some of the locals had their aircraft on static display for all to see and we were even treated to a ground run by the proud owner of a immaculately restored 1933 Pietenpol Sky Scout, hopefully we will get to see this amazing machine fly in the near future.
The first arrival was an Aermacchi AM.3C Bosbok which is based at the neighbouring Kitty Hawk Airfield. This particular Bosbok was withdrawn from SAAF service in 1993 where it proudly carried the tail number 953.
The “Nicholson Boys” from Nylstroom were the next arrivals, Richard and his sons Richie and Philip rarely miss a flying event, today they joined the fun in their SIAI Marchetti S-205. Richard is the CFI at Nylstroom Vliegskool but is planning on moving the entire operation to Warmbaths in the very near future.
They were followed by Karl Jensen in his stunning Cessna 170, Karl is the current chairmen of the Johannesburg Chapter of the EAA, chapter 322. A Motor Falke based at Springs landed just seconds after Karl, the Motor Falke was the only Powered Motor Glider to make their way to Rhino Park.
Two Bell 206 Jet Rangers proudly carrying the Flying for Freedom SA branding were the first helicopters to arrive. Flying for Freedom SA is a non-profit organization all about the conservation of animals. Tokkie Botes, one of the pilots, has sponsored over a thousand hours flying to different sites where help is needed, as well as flying veterinarians to snared animals and assisting with anti-poaching operations.
Juan Thessner and his team from Puma Aviation really went the extra mile to make this a very memorable fly-in, Juan, the GA Commercial Manager, was joined by Seamus Kilgallon, Head of Aviation Globally and Phillip van der Merwe Aviation Commercial Manager EMEA and Asia Pacific. The Puma Energy Group’s Aviation section are really getting behind the General Aviation sector here in South Africa. The Puma sponsored Flying Lions were scheduled to pay a visit sometime in the morning but due to the bad weather had to return to Rand Airport to the disappointment of everyone there.
Two North American Navions from Krugersdorp Arrived with their smoke bellowing, Steve George was flying lead and he was joined by George Gerber. The Navion Display team were set to join the airshow circuit but unfortunately one of their aircraft was involved in a forced landing incident in May and the plans for the formation team were put on hold. The Navions were joined by Andries van Tonder in his beautifully restored Dornier Do27, Andries is also the proud owner of a Harvard wearing the colours of the Rhodesian Airforce.
A gaggle of three Robinson helicopters arrived just after them, the helicopters all come from the Helivate Helicopter Services Stable, Helivate is based at Krugersdorp and have been operating since 2011 and are growing steadily and boast a very large fleet including an Alouette III.
The final arrival for the day was Rodney Been and his son Ivan in their Dornier Do27, this aircraft has had a very interesting history and after many hardships found a home with Rodney at Petit Airfield.
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After a great day of aviation comradery, good food and a bit of live music, supplied by Willem van der Ryst it was time for all the visitors to head home. The Navion’s performed a beautiful series of formation flypast before they headed out to Krugersdorp, this almost made up for absence of the Flying Lions.
A big thank you must go to the team from Rhino Park for a great day and of course these events wouldn’t be possible without sponsorship and for that we must thank Puma Energy its plain to see why they are fast becoming the preferred Avgas supplier to the general aviation community.
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