Petit Airfield on the East Rand between Kempton Park and Benoni might not be one of the most well-known landing strips in the country but on Saturday 4 October it was bursting at its seams when almost 170 aircraft visited for the first Petit Vintage Aircraft Fly in.
Amongst the legends of yesteryear were twelve de Havilland Tiger Moths and two Chipmunks, three Boeing Stearmans, a Waco, Fairchild, Stampe, two Harvards, a Pietenpol, Pitts Special and the huge Antonov AN2, a Bowers Flybaby, Jodel, Auster and the oldest aircraft still flying in SA the Aeronca C3 as well as various vintage Piper, Beechcraft and Cessna's including Archie Kemp's Cessna 195.
Perhaps not strictly vintage but none the less legends in their own right were a number of military veteran aircraft including four Gazelle's, two Allouette II's and a III, three Atlas Bosboks, a Dornier 27, Nanchang Dragon and two North American Navions.
Mass arrivals were the order of the day and at a stage one could be forgiven for thinking that you were at Oshkosh in the USA. One visitor remarked that the sky was so filled with aircraft that it looked like Heathrow on a busy day.
Strictly a fly in with no displays the event was not publicised to the general public as this would have involved complying with the myriad of rules and regulation that would have had such a financial impact that staging it would not have been possible. Visiting aviators however were treated to a feast of vintage and classic aircraft as well as a multitude of more modern of type certified as well as non-type certified aircraft.
Graham Field, far from being a veteran but a legend none the less popped in for a visit and could not resist doing one jump proudly wearing his Pilot's Post T-shirt.
Petit based Kitplanes for Africa manufacturers of the Bushbaby, Explorer and Safari range of kit planes celebrated their 21st manufacturing anniversary and had a large number of aircraft on display whilst Springs based Rainbow Skyreach manufacturers of the Bushcat hosted their clients on the day.
The Petit Classic Fly in started as a dream and that dream was made reality by the sheer dedication and hard work by a small team that without a doubt put together one of the best fly ins in the country for a number of years. The catering was good, the layout and parking of aircraft excellent and the organisation superb. I believe that the team has already started organising a similar fly in for 2015.
From left to right: John Ilsley, Ivan and Sonica vand der Schaar and Hugo Visser as well as Des van Seventer who when the picture was taken was unfortunately busy with getting a big screen television ready for those that stayed to watch the Springboks/All Blacks test match)
After it was all over and everyone had departed Ivan flew to the general area and practised some aerobatics in the Harvard.