Stellenbosch Fly-In

The article below was published in African Pilot June 2010 edition:

The annual Stellenbosch Fly-In or ‘Fashkosh’ as it has become nicknamed took place on the 8th of May.  The fly-in is one of the most popular events on the Western Cape calendar and after an entire week of rain, the aviation community were waiting with baited breath to see what Saturday morning would have in store. The Met office had promised  sunny skies on Saturday and rain from Sunday on for the rest of the week.  Ten days of rain and one clear day in between…Saturday.  What were the odds?  Well the Met office had hit the nail on the head and Saturday morning was perfect with a mild 12 knot North Westerly wind and clear skies.

Pilots starting arriving early and once registration once complete they could tuck into a hearty breakfast. After a pilots and media briefing held by ASSA Chairman, Rikus Erasmus, ATNS’s Johan le Grange and Werner ‘Snoopy’ Hendrikz, the flying programme got underway.

For the day the normally ‘unmanned’ airfield was declared controlled airspace for a 5 mile radius and up to 3000 feet!

The Stellenbosch Flying Club had its beginnings in the early 1970’s and today the airfield is home to over 500 members and over 160 aircraft are hangared there! Stellenbosch itself was founded in 1679 by governer Simon van der Stel, who named it after himself. The town is well known for its University and world renown wine farming. Situated about 50km east of Cape Town the Helderberg mountains provide the perfect backdrop to one of the most airfields in the country.

The day’s flying began with a display by Johan Pretorious in his Glasair 11 FT-S, which certainly impressed all of us with its speed agility and all round handling.

There were displays by Shawn Uren in A classic tail dragger version of the Cessna 180 and in his Rutan Long EZ. The Long EZ could well be one of the strangest looking aircraft but the crowds really enjoyed watching her fly. The Long EZ was sadly the aircraft that country singer, John Denver, was killed in. The investigation found that the aircraft was not to blame. A classic Cessna 170, flown by Lyle Grace was something special to see. Dr Ulu Steyn put the twin engined Piper Aerostar 600 through it’s paces.

Our  Cape Town regular, ZU-KIM, the L39 Albatros jet is always a crowd pleaser and Alan Fergus didn’t disappoint as he threw the L39 around the skies over Stellenbosch.  Len Kloppers in his Magni-Gyro showed the crowds just how manoeuvrable those little flying machines can be.

Air Mercy Services’ Pilatus PC-12, flown by test pilot Gerald McCarthy, graced us with a touch and go. Dick Henry paired up with Johan Ferreira, in their Harvards to put on a grand display. Dick, a seasoned pilot with over 29 000 flying hours to his name certainly lives up to his experience.

Once again our ATNS boys, Johan le Grange and Allen Knibbs did their stuff in style and even managed to reroute, two Kulula Boeing 737-800’s, two SAA Boeing 737-800’s and a 1 Time  McDonnell Douglas DC–9 overhead the airfield for the spectators.

Air Show South Africa were once again a well oiled machine as Rikus Erasmus (Safety Officer), Andre de Waal (Flight Director) and Louise Hofmeyer (Liaison for Safety Office and Flight Director) ran the flight operations for the day which went off without a single incident. Allison Navorro, the main organiser together with Paul Roux did a sterling job of putting together a well organised event which was enjoyed by all. The commentary box, manned by Martin Lyons and Mark ‘the walking aircraft encyclopedia’ Storey had the crowds well informed and in good spirits throughout the day! Overall, Fashkosh never disappoints and familes, pilots and enthusiasts alike will be back next year I’m sure as this events grows more and more each year.

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