Ray Watts - my ATC memories (part 3n)

By Ray Watts


In last month's article, I published a picture of ZS-LTA, a Cessna 421 belonging to LTA Construction. The photo was one which I had in my collection and I didn't notice that the prop tips were bent backwards - proves that I should study the photos more closely. It turns out that she suffered a nosewheel collapse at GC in 1985 and this was the cause of the damage. She was repaired at GC and then exported to Zambia in 1986.

Ian and Mary Harvey and VH-JKD.

Ian was a very active member of the EAA at Grand Central and owned a Stinson 108, ZS-UKD. This picture was taken at Ian's home in Halfway House with his wife Mary just before they emigrated to Australia. Ian is an Australian and still lives there. He and his two sons were always at Grand Central on the weekend. Ian also flew the Fuji ZS-IGZ during the week on business. He purchased an Aeronca from a farmer in the Northern Cape and shipped it, with the Stinson, to Australia when he left. It was quite a squeeze getting the two aircraft into one 40ft container, but they arrived unscathed in Australia. The Stinson is flying in Australia as VH-JKD. This aircraft was originally imported to South Africa in January 1947 as ZS-BHH (having been test flown in the USA under the registration NC97833). She was sold in Mozambique as CR-AEX almost immediately and operated there until December 1965. She returned to SA as ZS-BHH and Ian re-registered her in the LS-1 category as ZS-UKD on 1 October 1980 after an extensive refurbishment.

Alan Lurie

I've been looking for a decent picture of Alan Lurie for some time now and recently found this one on Facebook. I don't know who the young boy with him is though - if anybody knows please let me know. He's seen here standing on the wing of Spitfire WR RR PT672.

Derek Hopkins receiving the Nav Rally trophy after winning in Little Mo.

Derek and I have remained friends for all these years and in this picture, he's seen accepting the prize for a Grand Central Flying Club Nav Rallye which he won flying his Teenie Two ZS-UHC.

John Love and Dave Charlton.

Dave Charlton was, as discussed before, based at Grand Central. On one occasion, the Rhodesian Grand Prix driver John Love, when visiting South Africa, went flying him. I'm a Grand Prix (and now F1) racing fan and I got to meet John Love. I unfortunately didn't get a photo at that time, but found this one online recently. These two men were great competitors and friends. Unfortunately, neither of them is still with us.

Arthur Thomas standing next to the SA DCA's HS125.

Arthur Thomas was a DCA flying inspector for many years and I flew with him in the DCA Dakota out of Jan Smuts one night when they were doing an ILS calibration. This was during the time when I was a trainee ATC at Jan Smuts and if I remember rightly, there were four of us trainees onboard that night. We took off and did the calibration and he then decided to return directly to Wonderboom where the aircraft was based. All four of us asked that he land at FAJS so that we could get off the aircraft.

I met him again at Grand Central where, as mentioned before, the DCA Inspectors would gather on a Thursday to do IF renewals. It was great to chat with him as he was always a very strict inspector but friendly man.

Ken Heuer

Ken was an aircraft salesman who did quite a bit of business out of Grand Central. He and I became friends and stayed friends until he passed away last week in October 2021 from a massive heart attack. We had some good times together. He devoted the latter part of his life to animal welfare and had numerous Dachshund dogs on his farm in Mpumalanga as well as other wildlife. He's seen here with a lion he rescued.

Geese formation

We had quite a large problem with geese flying through the circuit and always had to be on the lookout for them. There is a bird sanctuary due east of Grand Central around a smallish dam where the geese lived, but would fly to another sanctuary near Lone Hill quite frequently. It was always nice to see them flying across but the aircraft in the circuit had to be warned when they were in the area.

ZS-DZH with Dave Fraser & ZS-GTR

Dave Fraser, a member of the flying club and EAA322 bought the Cherokee 140 ZS-GTR in the mid-70s and kept it on the apron at GC. This was one of those Cherokees that had been fitted with large, drooped wingtips which were supposed to reduce the stall speed significantly. Dave didn't really like this aircraft as he said that in a stall, the left wing would drop quite violently making it uncomfortable and he was convinced that it was the wing tips that caused this. Eventually he decided to sell the aircraft and bought ZS-DZH, another Cherokee 140. He enjoyed this one. Dave was killed in a crash near Vereeniging on 10 October 2002.

This delightful Cub belonged to Charles (Charlie) Bucklow and he loved it. She was out and about every weekend. When he bought her, she didn't have the Cub badge on the tail and he bought two for her at Oshkosh one year. He looked at Jimmy Popham's ZS-AYC which had the badge on the top of the rudder and placed his there as well. This unfortunately was wrong as the badge was supposed to be in the middle of the fin. He was a little upset when Dave Becker pointed this out to him, but seeing as he didn't have any more stickers, he left it where it was. You can see the badge in the photo.

This Tiger Moth belonged to Bob Ewing and to my shame, is the only Tiger I've ever flown in. Bob enjoyed aerobatics and promptly proceeded to go do some rolls and a loop. I am not a fan of doing aerobatics and really didn't enjoy this at all. Luckily, I didn't get sick but my stomach was decidedly queasy. Bob sold her when he bought his Chipmunk ZS-URC. He didn't have the Chippie for long when he bought his Beech 17 Staggerwing.

There were not many C207s in the country (and there still aren't) and it was unusual to actually see one at GC. This one wasn't based at GC but visited quite regularly. I think this was the one that was used by the parachute folks at Carletonville.

This Grumman AA5 belonged to Neil Bowden and he really looked after it well. When he bought her, there was some hail damage on the wings and he wanted to fill all the dents and repaint the wings. The guys at 322 talked him out of this as this wasn't an approved repair. The dents made very no difference to the performance of the aircraft at all. Neil became well known for his organised trips to the EAA gathering at Oshkosh where he provided a great experience for the folks who went with him. Unfortunately, I have never been able to go to Oshkosh, but it's still on my bucket list. Maybe one day.

There are still quite a few stories and photographs to tell you all about. See ya all next month.

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