JLPC Celebrates the Centenary of Flight from Baragwaneth

By Willie Bodenstein

The name Baragwanath, or Bara-G as it was and still affectionally known, is synonymous with flying in SA. The Aerodrome, south west of Johannesburg, has been the home of the Johannesburg Light Plane Club (JLPC) since 1927.

An Avro 504 of the Shuttleworth Collection.

However, flying from Bara-G, began long before 1927. Bara-G had many firsts in SA as far as flying is concerned, one of which occurred on 15 November 1919. On that day, a special edition of "The Star" was flown to Durban by Major Alister Miller, in a World War I Avro 504 biplane. The flight is generally considered as being the first commercial flight in South Africa.

On Friday 15 November 2019, invited guests met at the Wanderers Club to celebrate this momentous occasion and to pay tribute to those that have contributed to the establishment of aviation in South Africa.

Ron Wheeldon, Chairman of JLPC.

Welcoming the guest was Ron Wheeldon the Chairman of the JLPC. The club was formed in 1927 during a meeting in Johannesburg and 133 air-minded citizens were enrolled as members. The late 1920s and early 1930s were difficult years for the club; the world was in the throes of a depression and all flying clubs were affected. However, the club managed to survive.

Aviation Historian John Illsley covered the early years of the club's exitance. John's knowledge of our proud aviation history is truly phenomenal and his presentation and slide show was definitely the highlight of the evening.

By March 1931, the club was averaging 230 flying hours per month and had logged over 2 000 hours flying, trained 13 pilots and achieved the distinction of training the country's first commercial pilot, G.B.D. Williams.

The land on which the Aerodrome was established was the property of Rand Mines and with the rapid expansion of Johannesburg, the future of Aerodrome was always under threat and in 1982 the club was given notice by Rand Mines to vacate the property. On 6 April 1982, the last air display took place with twelve Tiger Moths proudly flying over the airfield in formation in a nostalgic tribute to the home they had known for so long.

Courtney Watson followed John with an equally riveting account of the club's recent history.

The club was forced to move to a new piece of land called Syferfontein.
An opening Airshow, which involved demonstrations by members' aircraft, was held once the runway had been laid and the hangars erected. A clubhouse was built and a permanent aerobatic box was established.

Sharing their memories of Bara-G were Karl Jensen, Jeff Earle and Basil Hersov. Basil flew Hravards from Bara-G before WWII as part of the Imperial Pilot Training Scheme. He later in the war flew Spitfires.

Baragwanath has been the scene of many memories for many people. It has been the location of many celebrations, the most noteworthy being the de Havilland Centenary and the 50th Anniversary of the Pitts Special. It has been the location of aerobatic and flying competitions, camp-outs and fly-ins. But most of all, Baragwanath is a place where friends can meet, swap stories, trade advice and enjoy the spirit of flying that has been passed on since the inception of the Johannesburg Light Plane Club in 1927.

For the full history on the JLPC and for more information go to:

Events 2019

Copyright © 2024 Pilot's Post PTY Ltd
The information, views and opinions by the authors contributing to Pilotís Post are not necessarily those of the editor or other writers at Pilotís Post.