The Eastern Cape Epic
During the weekend of 8 to 10 September, Blue Chip Flight School in conjunction with the Border Aviation Club and Flight School from East London undertook an epic fly-away. The flyaway comprise 12.5 hours of incident free flying over three days. The hospitality displayed towards the “Blue Angels” as the pilots from Blue Chip were dubbed, was amazing. It is incredible to think that the aviation community has such big hearts that accommodation and food was supplied at virtually no cost.
The itinerary for the weekend was as follows:
Friday at 07:00 14 pilots singed on at the Blue Chip offices at Wonderboom airport, to preflight their 7 aircraft for the weekend. At 08:30 it was wheels up for the first leg to New Tempe for a fuel stop for aircraft and pilots. After a quick splash and dash, the fleet departed for the second leg of their adventure, to Wavecrest. The winds were certainly in their favour, as the groundspeeds for the aircraft averaged at around 120kts. After safe landings from everyone, they were treated to a nice lunch of steak, chips and salads. Once everybody’s bellies were full, the 7 aircraft from Blue Chip and those from the Border Aviation Club Pilots departed on the final leg for the day, to Wings Park.
After all the aircraft were safely on the ground, fuelled and packed away for the evening, all the pilots involved were treated an exceptional example of Eastern Cape Hospitality from the Wings Park Members with a braai and a lot of hangar talk about past flying experiences.
Saturday Morning everyone was bright eyed and bushy tailed, rearing to continue the epic adventure. After Coffee and Rusks, the fleet, which was now busy growing rapidly into a squadron, departed for the Stutterheim Airfield. Once the entire squadron, which now consisted of 15 aircraft, ranging from C172, Slings, Jabiru, Hats and pipers to mention but a few, were safely on the ground, we departed in the improvised crew bus for the Stutterheim Engine Museum. Here we were treated to seeing a very large collection of antique and other engines being started up just for us. Following a lunch and the rugby test at the Stutterheim Country Club, the squadron departed for Rexfield. Upon arrival our crew bus met us and we departed for the Thomas River Museum, which was to be the accommodations, for Saturday night.
Another evening of networking and hangar talk ensued, and along with a wonderful braai, the entourage was treated to a talk by Aggie Dent, about her past experiences as an aviatrix with 7 000 plus flying hours and not one of them being for an airline.
Sunday morning all the pilots were greeted by a low overcast and as such our departures were delayed due to unfavourable weather conditions. At around 10:00 the weather was lifting and we departed for the last day of flying.
Shortly after departure the Wonderboom bound crowd were greeted by terrible headwinds with of the aircraft obtaining a groundspeed of 60kts at times. An inflight diversion was made direct to Queenstown for a fuel stop, and a discussion of the plan forward to Tempe. The remainder of the flying to Wonderboom was uneventful, with the last aircraft touching down at 18:30 local.
The experience was an unforgettable one and the teams involved from Blue Chip Flight School and Border Aviation Club have to be commended on arranging and hosting a flyaway of this nature.
Article by Brendon Lubbe – Chief Flight Instructor