This year the Battlefields Fly-in was held for the 19th year in succession, a remarkable achievement. The grass strip airfield is situated just outside Dundee in KwaZulu Natal. This year the event was blessed with amazing weather with perfect flying conditions. The weather on Saturday in particular was magnificent with almost no wind and clear blue skies. In the morning there was a layer of mist near the field, but this quickly burnt off and the rest of the day was perfect.
The early morning mist dissipates.
The event was very well attended and organiser Dave O'Halloran was very pleased with the number of aircraft that attended. As General Manager of the Battlefields Country Lodge he said they had 45 people stay overnight on the Friday night and around 55 on Saturday. The majority of the people stayed both nights but there were also a number of crews that flew in for the day and this swelled the numbers.
Event organiser Dave O'Halloran
A total of 43 aircraft were counted but one or two could well have been missed over the full event. The breakdown by manufacturer was as follows: - Van's 10, Sling 5, Piper 4, Aeroprakt 4, Jabiru 3, Kitplanes for Africa 3, Cessna 2, Magni Gyro 2 and one of each for Grumman American, Micro Aviation, Rainbow, Flight Design, Evektor, Ela Aviacion, Solo Wings, Auto Gyro Europe and FK Leichtflugzeuge.
Stuart and Rob Beach and their lovely old Piper Tri-Pacer ZS-DGK.
Some of the visiting aircraft at Battlefields.
Arthur Gemperle was very active giving flips in his Magni Gyro ZU-CJG.
Posing in front of ZU-MEE are Mark and Christine Warren (ZU-TRG), Grant Beattie and Craig Mee (ZU-MEE). Craig's aircraft recently won the overall champion prize at the EAA Convention in Vryheid two weeks ago!
Organisation for the event was excellent and the lodge and airfield itself, looked immaculate. The 1000-metre grass runway (11/29), was neatly mown and a lot of attention to detail ensured that the visitors were impressed with the maintenance and cleanliness of the whole facility. The airfield is at an altitude of around 4040 feet.
Battlefields grass runway.
On Friday night, pilots and guests were treated to a Chinese Braai and this was followed on Saturday night with a Potjie meal. On Saturday night there was the traditional fines ceremony, where errant pilots had to drink from the barrel and newbies were initiated in a similar fashion, all in good fun.
A proposed flight around the Boer War memorial sites was put on hold until next year as some of the logistics still need to be sorted out. The biggest problem to overcome is the differential in speed for the various aircraft that wished to take part. A number of the fly-in guests booked on a day bus tour of the sites on Saturday.
The Battlefields Country Lodge, right next to the runway!
Ben van der Westhuizen and his Flight Design CTLS Jubilee.
Garry Robinson and Ron Mitchell with their RV-6A ZU-SON.
Ron Mitchell (ZU-SON), Jica Pinto Coelho (ZU-FDZ), Garry Robinson (ZU-SON) and Gary Shephard (Photographer).
The event went smoothly and safely and the only problems experienced was one aircraft experienced a puncture which was noticed after landing and another one had a brake problem. The event was a very chilled out and relaxed affair. Many visiting pilots and friends sat in chairs along the side of the runway to watch the action and to swap stories.
All in all, a wonderful fly-in held in the best spirit of general aviation. You can be certain that the majority of attendees will be back next year for event number 20!
Some general photos of visiting aircraft at the event.