A New Life for a retired Lady
By Ricky Fouche
On 11 April 2013 a grand old lady of the skies was moved from Lanseria Airport to Emoya Estates outside Bloemfontein.
The fuselage of the Fokker F28 Fellowship was transported by road and because of logistical problems had to go via a rather circuitous route to avoid bridges, power lines and other obstacles. From Lanseria she was transported to Vanderbijlpark then on to Potchefstroom and to Viljoenskroon, Bothaville, Hoopstad, Hertzogville, Dealsville and finally to her final destination and new home at Emoya Estates, Bloemfontein.
Owner Buks Westraad has spent the last year in negotiations to secure the purchase of the aircraft and also to obtain the necessary transport permits. The aircraft TN-BEH was grounded after it was declared unsafe after a landing, at Lanseria, sometime in late 2011 or early 2012. With the aid of his trusty sidekick, Felix Kramer, the fuselage was eventually loaded and transported to Bloemfontein.
Two aircraft fitters, from Lanseria assisted with the re-assembly once all the parts have arrived. The engines and avionics have all been removed but the seats were retained.
In May 2002 she was bought by AirQuarius Contracts and leased to Trans Air Congo in January 2003. In May 2004 she become the property of Nedbank but remained in use by AirQuarius. In October 2004 she was leased to the United Nations and in November 2006 Leased to SA Express Airways. The next November she once again returned to Trans Air Congo and a month later in December 2007 was removed from the SA Register.
She subsequently was registered as TN-BEH in the Congo Brazzaville and in either late 2011 or early 2002 grounded at Lanseria where she awaited her fate.
Felix Kramer is a building contractor and was responsible for erecting the platform on which the aircraft will sit. Almost 400 cubic meters of soil had to be brought in to build the temporary ramp to allow the aircraft to be winched on to the platform. Once in place, the ramp will be removed again and the aircraft will be left standing on three pillars.
Phase two will entail the building of a viewing deck in front of the aircraft to accommodate 200 people , the construction of a kitchen behind and to the side, the building a stage and amphitheatre that will accommodate 500 people and the fitting out the interior of the aircraft in “New York” glitz and glamour style with neon lighting and luxury appointments.
The viewing deck and the aircraft will face directly west to allow patrons to view the amazing Freestate sunsets. The cockpit will be converted to a cocktail bar and the cabin to a cocktail lounge. Meals and cocktails will be served here.
The Amphitheatre will be used to host music concerts and various other displays. The viewing deck will then also serve as a roof for the amphitheatre stage. Karen Zoid will be invited as the first artist to perform at the new venue.
A Golfing tee on one of the wings will be provided for those patrons that feel lucky. They will be able to place a golf ball and attempt to hit a hole in one on a green that is 100 meters from the tee. Prize money of R10 000.00 is up for grabs for every hole in one.
The owner of Emoya Estates, Buks Westraad, has always had the vision to provide Bloemfontein with rare attractions. The resort has a total of 34 different species of game. Included in these are three of the “Big Five”. Lion, Leopard and White Rhino. Emoya is also part of the “Cheetah Experience” and they have 17 Cheetah's in their breeding program.
Accommodation, Spa, Restaurants, Golf driving range, Conference facilities and Game drives are part of the services offered at Emoya Estate. The accommodation is 5 star standard.
If not for the intervention of Buks Westraad would probably have relegated to the breakers yard.
WHAT A LIFE THIS LADY HAD!!!
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