The lonely Puma Aviation windsock tells part of the story of the day, but for those who could attend, it still worked out well.
Puma Aviation planned their first Rhino Park Fly-Inn event meticulously and all they had control over was well organised. But the weather cannot be predicted, especially not far in advance, and the summer rainy season was trying very hard to get going, again! Around sixty aircraft were expected to fly in. but most had to cancel due to severe weather conditions. This left around only fourteen aircraft arriving, with Krugersdorp Flying Club being the main contributors to the arrivals. Even the Puma Energy Flying Lions, had to turn back after the cloud base was below 400 feet, en route. Wise and safe decisions not to fly by those affected in these conditions led to an incident - free fly in.
Early on it was bitterly cold with a “lazy” (because it blew through a person, instead of going around!) Northerly (cross) wind, which kept the windsocks pointed away from the trees all day. There were a few spots of rain, but not enough to wet anything or damp the dust.
Some of the locals pulled their aircraft out for static display - A Savannah (“Bakkie of the Sky”), a Druine D.31 Turbulent and a 1933 Pietenpol Sky Scout, joined later by an early arrival Bosbok ZS-ADI, ex SAAF tail# 953. Louwtjie Vosloo exercised his 1933 Pietenpol Sky Scout with a fast taxi up and down the runway. This Pietenpol originally had a VW engine but was later converted to the beautiful looking Continental power plant.
A local flying school, Legend Sky, got in a few training sorties early on, before most of the fly in participants arrived.
Bosbok ZS-ADI, a regular visitor, was one of the first arrivals and did a flyover and landing, then parked with the locals pulled out for static display.
Flying for Freedom in support of anti-rhino poaching operations, were represented by Tokie and Jan in their Bell 206 JetRangers. They were looking for “pannekoek” on this cold and windy morning, but Puma Aviation had laid on an excellent buffet with chicken and lamb on a spit with all the trimmings and puddings dangerous for the ladies' dietary efforts!
With the fly-in arrivals rather sparse, the “invasion” from Krugersdorp Flying Club with three R44's, two Navions and a Dornier arrived in a loose formation, with Helivate CEO, Hayley Cumming as flight leader. The immaculate Dornier Do27 landed quietly…
While the Helivate Robinson R44's landed, with clouds of dust stirred up and some of the smoke from the Navions flypast …
… The Navion Riders from KFC treated those on the ground to some spectacular flypasts with smoke billowing - the dark clouds in the background made for spectacular photographs!
The Navions closed off with an opposing flypast against the clouds that determined the attendance of so many
After which the Navions performed superb landings in the strong cross-wind
Phillip vd Merwe, the Puma Aviation Commercial EMEA and Asia Pacific manager, brought in a Jabiru 430.
Karl Jensen - ZS-VAL - EAA Chapter 322 Chairman always makes a welcome appearance at events and flew past as he departed after take-off in his Cessna 170.
A superb buffet meal was on offer with live music provided by Willem van der Ryst and there was some socialising with the inevitable and enjoyable aviation discussions and banter.
After lunch had been enjoyed, Steve George and George Gerber in the Navion Riders, provided a spectacular series of flypasts to round off and partly made up for the Puma Flying Lions absence due to the unflyable weather. Starting with a smoking formo take-off…
And culminating in a “switchblade” break in line with the central windsock…
Then as the old song says it was “time to say goodbye” with departures
The Helivate R44's prepare for lift-off with the fixed wing aircraft waiting at the threshold.
Some folks just enjoyed the flying, so they continued flying..
And then another Dornier appeared!
It appears the Krugersdorp formations asked for permission and were granted a flyby of Waterkloof AFB on their way back to Krugersdorp! That does not happen every day!
Thanks to Rhino Park Airfield for providing an excellent venue and hosting this event and to Puma Aviation for sponsoring it. Juan Thessner and his team certainly put together a well organised event! It is great to see general aviation being supported in these difficult times.
Hopefully this is the start of something and Puma Energy will arrange other fly-in's at Rhino Park Airfield and the weather will be more suitable for all those planning to fly in.