21st Battlefields Fly-In 08.05.2021

By Brian Spurr

The twenty first consecutive annual Battlefields Fly-In took place from the 7th to the 9th of May at the beautiful country airfield situated in the heart of the historic battle sites. The Battlefields Country Lodge and Sports Resort (with its adjoining airfield), is situated 7.5 kms north east of Dundee and is halfway between Johannesburg and Durban.

The Fly-In is overseen by General Manager of the resort, Dave O' Halloran. Dave is not a pilot himself but he spent many years in South African Airways and Air Zimbabwe on the marketing and management sides. He has been in his current role for the last 8 years. He told me that the business had been affected by Covid, particularly with UK tourists interested in the battle sites, but he said they were doing ok and keeping their heads above water generating local business and events. They recently held a big schools rugby competition on the fields alongside the runway. Dave said that they get frequent visitors who come in by air. Many of them stay over, some on business, before continuing their journeys. He told me the next big Fly-In would be in July when around 40 aircraft from the Jabiru club were expected to arrive.

Claire Miller, Sanet O'Halloran, Dave O'Halloran.

The grass runway was in immaculate condition. It is 943 metres long and 20 metres wide and is clearly marked by white painted tyres. The runway is orientated 11 and 29 and the radio frequency is 124.800.

Battlefields Lodge from the air. By kind permission of Billie Jennings.

Battlefields Lodge has a number of attractions that make this Fly-In popular. Trips can be arranged to the nearby battle sites Isandlwana, Rorke's Drift, the Blood River Monument and the Talana Museum. It is a wedding venue, sports resort, team building venue and event destination.

For the Fly-In weekend, the lodge was full and visiting pilots soaked up the country atmosphere and relaxed in the company of fellow aviators. Entertainment was provided on Friday and Saturday night by the popular group the Gee Jays and a great time was had by all. The lodge has 72 units and can accommodate 144 guests.

Pilot's Post visited on Saturday and at that time there were thirty-two aircraft visiting. The weather was perfect with zero wind and some high white clouds at times. In the afternoon, a slight crosswind breeze came up that did not seem to pose any problems. There was a lot of flying during the day with pilots taking family and friends to see the sights. Here are some photos of the flying:

ZS-KCO - Beech 58P Baron

ZS-NAI - Piper Cherokee 235

ZU-FLR - Van's RV-7

ZS-IUT - Cessna 182P Skylane

ZU-TCD - Van's RV-10

ZU-DSR - Bushbaby

ZU-EMF - Jihlavan KP-5 Sabre

ZS-APY - Aeronca 65C Chief

ZU-FWE - Rainbow Cheetah XLS

ZU-FWB - Van's RV-10

ZU-EPT - Tecnam P-2004 Bravo

ZU-MAD - Van's RV-7

ZU-IHI - Van's RV-7

ZS-MWN - Piper Turbo Arrow IV

ZS-OXZ - Cessna 182 Skylane

ZS-PLE - Cirrus SR22

ZU-FYA - Sling 2

ZU-FUD - Sling 2

ZU-EKK - Auto Gyro MT-03

ZU-EGB - Jabiru J430

Some aircraft did depart after lunch on Saturday for El Mirador, in the Drakensberg and also to avoid what seemed like a thunder storm build up in the east. As it turned out, when we returned to Durban by road, this threat did not materialise.

One fun demonstration that the crowd enjoyed was of the RotorWay Exec 162F flown by Arthur Gemperle. The little helicopter showed off its manoeuvrability and performance in a great display.

Verena Basson, Arthur Gemperle, Nollene Mitchell, Martina Michel-Smith

On the day, the visitors enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere in the country. Tables are situated right alongside the runway where people could enjoy lunch or drinks without missing any of the action. The speaker system even provided some gentle country music to add to the atmosphere!

Only incident reported on the day was the Falke motor glider that contacted a sprinkler head on roll out after landing, (this aircraft has a wide wingspan). This made a slight dent in the wingtip but it was not serious enough to prevent the aircraft flying home.

Those that stayed over had a wonderful weekend in the company of fellow aviators and their wives. This is a very pleasant place to visit for aircraft owners wanting a new (or repeat) destination to visit. It was good to see the good turnout in spite of the current pandemic. There were a number of new visitors this year, so hopefully this event will continue to grow in the years ahead. They deserve every success for their efforts.

and subscribe to our YouTube channel

Events 2021

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.