Arriving at Kittyhawk

On Friday 27th October the Aeronautical Society of Pretoria Boys High School ended its activities for the year with a flying afternoon at Kittyhawk airfield, east of Pretoria.


There have been earlier opportunities this year to fly because there was the annual gliding afternoon at Orient airfield with the Magalies Gliding Club and members were also invited to the EAA Young Eagles event at Brakpan-Benoni. However, the Society traditionally concludes its year with a flying afternoon which aims to provide a flight in both a fixed wing aircraft and a helicopter. To make this a reality, aircraft owners and companies are asked to volunteer to fly during the afternoon.

Students and staff

This year the mix of fixed wing aircraft was made up of three RV8s and a Cessna 150 with the helicopter contingent comprising two R44s and a Bell Jetranger. Several EAA members; a few Kittyhawk aircraft owners and a security company made up the mix of pilots.

Volunteer pilots, helpers and others

After a safety briefing for the boys and a sortie briefing for the pilots, both conducted by Martin Louw, the flying could begin. The rotation between different aircraft was coordinated by one of the ground volunteers and the helicopters had a team that ensured safe loading and unloading between flights. Despite the hot and blustery conditions initially prevailing, all of the boys were able to enjoy a local flight and thereby gain insights into the different forms of flying and the characteristics of various aircraft types.

Participating Aircraft

This year the Society received a generous dollar donation from two ex-members who are now flying overseas and this allowed for a fuel contribution to be made as well as covering catering at the Kittyhawk restaurant.

The philosophy behind the Society has always been to expose members to as many different facets of flying and the aviation industry as possible. It has never aimed to train its members to fly, but rather to foster an interest in different aspects of aviation with the possibility that it may lead members to pursue careers in this field or to take up some form of recreational flying. The success of the Society has been evident in the number of members who have gone on to become professional pilots. Dozens are currently flying for airlines and charter companies across the globe, having first acquired a taste for flying as part of this school extra mural activity.

The PBHS Aeronautical Society always has a year crowded with activities and 2023 has been no exception. Excursions have included visits to the FlySafair facility at ORT; the factory building the Mwari aircraft; Incomar at Wonderboom; the heliport at Midrand; the SAAF Museum at Swartkop, and a radio-control flying airfield. Guest speakers have included "Blokkies" Joubert, an experienced military test pilot and Chris Burger, an instructor with licences for every form of recreational flying. The longstanding "Aeroquiz" aviation general knowledge quiz was also enthusiastically competed in by members.

The Society tries to have a practical project as part of its activities. This year the boys in the Society have been working on the restoration of a 1930s Heath Parasol, a very historic homebuilt. This is being rebuilt to static display condition for a proposed new aviation museum in the Western Cape.

The flying afternoon had special significance for John Illsley, who founded the Aeronautical Society thirty years ago and who has run it over that period. The event represented the last excursion of his career as he retires from PBHS at the end of the year, having spent his entire career at this well-known school. At the conclusion of the afternoon, after the pilots and airfield manager had been thanked and presented with small gifts, John spoke of how rewarding it had been to help inspire an interest in aviation among young men. He said that he could not think of a better way to round out his time with the Society than with a wonderful flying afternoon on a hot summer afternoon.

The Aeronautical Society of PBHS extends its sincere thanks to those who made the afternoon possible: Martin Louw, George Tonking, Thomas Tonking, Derek Hopkins, Mike Puzey and Daan Conradie.

Pretoria Boys High Aviation Society Students Flights

Events 2023

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