Jump to content

Bush Pilots Fly-in 2009 South Africa

Guest rudix

Recommended Posts

Bush Pilots Fly-in 2009









I first visited the annual Bush Pilots Fly-in in 2007 and vowed not to miss it the following year! In 2008 I could not fly there since I hurt my ankle badly so I was grounded but still drove there, in a lot of pain, not to miss the fun. It turned out to be a good thing since the weather was not to great with up to 80 mph winds, many guys had to leave their planes in Barberton for the week to drive home with hired cars.











This year the weather was great, my ankle was healed so plans were made weeks before the event, who would fly with whom, along what route and at what time. I decided it was time I showed the Barberton area to my Streak Shadow. The plane was serviced, tested flow the day before departure and then fueled and packed for an early departure on the Friday, 4 September.














The day dawned bright, no fog at Rhino Park for a change with only a little wind. I managed to be in the air at around 6h10am, just as the sun rose. The air was quiet and the engine purred as I slowly climbed above the world waking to a working day, today it was not for me!


At first I had a slight, around 8 mph headwind but as I climbed high enough to cross the mountains, to about 7200' it turned into a slight tailwind. The air was extremely calm, so calm in fact that after take-off I only used the elevator trim, throttle and the odd nudge on the rudder pedals to steer, the first time I touched the joystick was only after 160 miles when I joined overhead the field in Barberton. I don't think I have ever experienced such a long calm flight! The only slight negative was that the visibility was not great with lots of smoke in the air, the reason I did not take many photos on the way there. I just sat there and enjoyed the peace of being above the rat-race below.












Along the way, east of Middelburg, I saw these ruins, wonder who lived here?



















Once in the mountains I spotted this landing strip, I marked it on the GPS for a future visit.








Once I arrived above the Barberton field I was greeted by a friendly air traffic controller and a few friends on the ground, everyone was busy getting ready for the weekend, pitching tents and preparing displays. Due to the headwind early on in the trip and the need to climb over the mountains it took me 1h50 to fly the 160 miles, not bad, in the process I burned around 20L of fuel.

















CC's home and the site of the annual Bush Pilots Fly-in.

















The Streak Shadow, covered and tied down in case of strong winds, Tent also pitched. I have learned to do this before the fun starts else you never get around to doing it.











I was one of the first planes to arrive but soon the air buzzed and the parking area filled up, it was great to meet old friends again as they landed one after the other telling stories of their trips, everyone was in a great mood!

















The parking area soon after I landed.

















The official camping area, most pilots preferred to camp under their wings like I did though.








The Friday was spend helping getting things ready as everyone arrived, lots of chatting and eating as well. Every plane that arrived had to be greeted and then checked from front to back while chatting with the owner, lots of fun! Soon it was dark, after a good meal (Potjie) the party started, it was hosted by Suzuki in their hospitality tent. Before long the stories, laughter and liquid started to flow!

















My friend Graham Cooper who was also the public announcer for the weekend listening to a joke while enjoying something cool.











The first thing we noticed as we arrived was how much warmer it was in Barberton than where we came from!











I decided not to overdo it, easier said than done but managed to get a good night sleep, ready for Saturday, the official air show and fun day.

















The day dawned bright with no wind and better visibility than the day before, things were looking good!

















Not everyone had a good night, his guy did not pitch his tent before the party so after trying to get it pitched in the dark (AFTER the party) he gave up and just pulled it over his head, it was quite cold at night!

















Graham getting the show on the road in the morning.











CC asked if a few of us could go and fly over the town of Barberton to wake them up and "announce" that there was something happening today. It was decided to drop two parachutist over the town so that they could land on a sports field to attract some attention. A friend of mine from Rhino Park, Anton, offered to go and fetch them with his Allouette II helicopter. He asked if I would like to come along to take a few photos, I did not hesitate with my YES!!











The last time I flew in one of these were many years ago, and in those days bad people were shooting at us spoiling the fun! The Allouette used to be a military helicopter.

















A slightly different view of the instrument panel than what I am used to!

















The town of Barberton with the sports field the parachutist landed on, here we are approaching to land. Still slightly foggy.

















On the ground!











We landed at a school field where the children were getting ready for a game of Cricket, they loved the "interruption" and even the teachers were ecstatic the we added something special to their day.

















Children having a closer look at the helicopter.

















Parachutists loaded and ready for departure.











The teachers asked if it would be possible for us to hover over the rather damp Cricket pitch to dry it out a bit, Anton obliged and also gave an impromptu display of what the helicopter could do, much to the teachers and kid's delight!

















Overhead the field again at about 7200', 5000' above ground level getting ready to drop the parachutist.

















Away he goes! I am not so sure I would enjoy that!

















Descending over the field we did a fly past before landing.











It turned out to be a special experience for me, not only the flight in the helicopter but also chucking people out of it and taking plenty photos, thanks Anton!

















A stunning display soon started!

















A Navion and a Yak doing a simulated ground attack.











The highlight of the show was the simulated ground attack and the blowing up of a Taxi, something most South African's would love to do!!

















Hit scored by the Yak!

















A huge bang with lots of flames!











As predicted the flames soon caused a fire, no problem, that was planned as part of the show!

















A "Water bomber" dropping some foam on the fire, quite spectacular and very effective!











After the show we all went flying again till dusk, having fun in the air after a stunning day. The evening was spent chatting and having a good time with more good food, no-one went to bed hungry!











The next morning dawned bright with no wind but some fog moving in from the east towards the mountain, not good! I managed to make a hasty departure having packed the plane early while it was still dark, just in time as the fog covered the field as I looked back.









Once I started climbing it was clear, to get over the mountains you have to climb from 2200' to over 7200' in about 10 miles, hard work for the engine! I kept a close look on the engine temperatures and pressures, no need to worry, the Jabiru engine behaved itself 100% with temperatures just slightly higher than the normal, rather low, cruise temperatures.

















Climbing to 7000' plus. Look at the great view from the Shadow!











This time there was a definite tailwind pushing along the Shadow nicely. The air was also a lot cleared than the Friday so I managed to take a few more photos this time.

















Another bush strip I marked for a future visit, looks like it is used by the water bombers to fight fires in the plantations.

















Some rather beautiful, and not exactly airplane friendly, mountains with lots of trees.

















Once at cruising altitude the mountain range stretched as far as the eye could see, what a privilege to be able to see it like this!

















More tree covered mountains!

















All to soon civilization was in sight again!











The trip home was perfect, well, almost, as I started my decent from 7000' towards Rhino Park, at around Bronkhorstspruit, I had a few moments of panic as the smooth song of the Jabiru was interrupted by a few surges! I immediately looked for a spot to land while calculating if I could glide the last 10 miles to Rhino Park. While all this went on I played around a bit with the throttle and soon the engine settled back into it's smooth song. The surging was only around 100 rpm but sure got my attention. I can only assume that I experienced a bit of carb icing, I did notice that the throttle was a bit stiff when I moved it. The Shadow does not have carb heat, something I am now considering adding! Just to be sure I will check the engine carefully before the next flight and then proceed with a local flight.











With the help of the tail wind the flight back only took 1h30, burning around 15l of fuel.









The total distance covered was about 320 miles using 35l, not bad at all!

















The track on the way to Barberton.

















And the track back with a slight diversion to get around a mountain peak while climbing!











For me this was the best Bush Pilots Fly-in yet! Thanks to CC and everyone else who helped to make this fly-in special, I can't wait for Bush Pilots Fly-in 2010, see you there!!











Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone!


Yes, the fly-in is held in the Barberton area, what is called the "Lowveld" here, east of Pretoria and Johannesburg. As you fly over the mountains there is a sudden drop of more than 4000 feet. A great area to fly in and even in the winter it is nice and warm with gentle winds.


The fly-in was held in what is normally the dry season (late winter), normally the area is green.



Fly safe,





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Skydog.


Yes, I agree, for me this is what flying is all about, I am always looking for a new adventure, when I look at a map every unknown place calls me!


With the holidays ahead I am planning a nice trip, time to do a bit of coastal flying.


Fly safe,





Link to comment
Share on other sites



I have had the priveledge of visiting Sth Africa a few times over the last 10 years and a couple of years ago was lucky to drive from the Cape to the George area. Talk about stunning coastline!


No wonder so many people retire there, should be even better from the air.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...