Among the members

For up-to-date news, activities and calendar of events please visit www.crocodileriverreserve.co.za  

This biodiversity stewardship project aims to provide formal conservation protection for the area of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy, and beyond. 

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Open cockpit adventure

On the morning we set off on this adventure we were met at the airfield by a reception of about 20 people – friends, family and neighbours, but also the crew from e-news. It resembled a movie set, and was a fitting start for this incredible adventure. We hope you enjoy this abbreviated account of our journey, experiences and effort on behalf of Reach for a Dream.

movie-set

The take-off was the culmination of weeks of planning, paperwork and preparation.
We flew along the ridge of the entire Magaliesberg mountain range and landed in Lichtenburg in windy conditions.

Let the Games Begin

Day Two allowed time for a breather, which we welcomed after the hype of leaving home. Day two also saw the commencement of the Geriatrix Games.


Paul is in his 70th year, and I am 60 and though Red Bull had tactfully told us their sponsorship was reserved for contracted athletes implying that we did not fit the bill, we are just the right age for Geriatrix Games. I did some training for the 100 meter sprint (until I hurt), and sipped my Red Bull contently.


geriatrix training

Mareetsane's warmth

The evening we went to a musical show featuring Fran Carstens and Gideon Rademeyer who I think is the most exiting young guitarist I’ve seen in South Africa. At the show, Paul was the keynote speaker and had the audience of about 50 in stitches when in explaining our charity drive for Reach for a Dream, he said that at our age we too are terminal even though we are not ill.
The benevolence of the Mareetsane community has touched us all deeply.

Mareetsane Music evening - and collection

Repairs on the Run

The next morning disaster was averted. All our pre-flight checks were completed and I was about to taxi when one of the bystanders frantically stopped me and indicated that there was fuel gushing from my carburettor bowls...

Ever-reliable Dr. Flo of Centurion Flight Centre came to my assistance. A video conference with him had the problem sorted and the balance of the 102 kilometer trip was smooth. We landed at Eagle Flight Academy in Hartswater 2 hours 20 minutes later.
Here we met an international cast of student pilots, and our evening of braai and song went down a treat.
The morning saw the return of the overflowing carburettor, and Paul found that the tap on his water trap on the fuel tank wouldn’t close properly and was leaking fuel. Add to that we were having problems with our comms. Blue Max was doing all the radio work, and we kept within sight of each other.

Good thing the flight was as smooth as silk and we landed after 2 hours on an 83 nm. flight.

We also needed to do some repair work to the groundcrew’s vehicle and trailer – the GWM and heavily-laden trailer are affectionately called Gerald and Llewellyn. The ground crew provides necessary logistics for us, including essentials like petrol and food.

Ground crew - slow but steady

Romance and the Radios

The next morning followed a bad night’s sleep and continued the problem with the comms. Paul did the radio calls again. Our 44 nm. flight took us 45 min. before we touched down on the farm Romance just outside Olifantshoek.
On route we flew over the Sishen mines, and the devastation which results from open cast mining is clear from the air.

Sishen Mine

This was also the morning we were interviewed by John Robbie for Radio 702. We decided to make the most of the opportunity and to turn the interview into a live TV interview as well. Blue Max set up our studio in front of his on board Drift video camera. The morning interview was over before we could blink an eye and we couldn’t even mention RMB*, the tin collection by the children of Mareetsane or even Paul’s name!

On the farm Romance the next event of the Geriatric Games took place.

 

"With only one dart available, the match went into extra time and was easily clinched by an ecstatic Loneranger by 2 matches to one. The match was poised at one match all with Blue Max winning the Round-the-Board by a huge margin and the Loneranger pipping Blue Max at 101 at the post. The sudden death match of higest score with 3 darts and the gold medal was won by a far fitter and finely honed athlete, yes you called it right, the Loneranger. Blue Max fought gallantly for his silver medal."

 

Upington

Lynette of the ground crew joined the flight as we setoff for Upington a trip of about 88 nm.'s. We soon encountered some turbulence caused by the surrounding hills and a stiff breeze which at times showed our ground speed at 16 nm.'s. It felt like somebody had turned the tumble drier on and it really wasn't very pleasant. We climbed to about 6000 ft. and found calmer conditions.

I was quite relieved to see our halfway point - Kalahari Oryx - appear and we were forced to land on the tar strip against a strong cross wind. Blue Max did well to land with a strong gust on touch down.

Lynette accompanied us to the training field for a practice session for the next alternative event of the Games, the gruelling Bokdrolspoeg event. We decided on a handicap system of two yards in favour of the seasoned campaigner over his younger rival and after a few practice runs, we settled for the recovery rooms.

 

Later in the afternoon came one of the biggest upsets of the Games so far. With the match delicately poised at one game each, Blue Max after bravely declining the handicap system, delivered the coup de grace in the sudden death match with a Games record of 7 metres three inches. The Loneranger was visibly upset upon receiving the silver medal and had to bow to the vastly improving Blue Max.

We were ready at 5:30 the next morning for the Kalahari Oryx to Upington leg and had to do pre-flight checks under vehicle lights.

It was the best leg of the trip in terms of flying conditions and also the scenery. You have to be a poet to do justice to the rolling dunes of the Kalahari washed by the rays of the rising sun and the quilt like appearance of the farm lands along the Orange River.

Orange River tapestry

towardsUpington

Upington International airport soon appeared and with Blue Max doing the radio calls, we were instructed to do a left hand circuit for a full stop on runway 19.


I think I did my best landing ever and we touched down after about 57 minutes for the 48nm leg.
I also did the longest taxi - landing early on a 2438 m runway with a trike is not advisable if you don’t want to taxi for 2 kilometers!

Towards Upington

We were met by some friendly airport officials who took our details - for billing purposes.
After a game of musical trikes to fit into a hangar, the very helpful Ettienne Venter introduced us to the local journo, Annetjie, who writes for Die Gemsbok. Together they will rally the community to support Reach for a Dream.

We received a welcome call from Hanno Snyman from Windhoek: our Overflight Clearances had been approved and e-mailed to us. We now have authority to fly over the border any time from 17 May to 30 June and ATF in Namibia between 16 May and 30 June. It is a great relief to us and we thank profusely Hanno and Chris Fourie of Namibia and Awesome Aviation who helped us with these clearances.

Riemvasmaak

We set off for a sightseeing trip and tourist office suggested we sleep over at Riemvasmaak. This is a community who was dispossessed of their land by the SANDF in 1973 and returned after a land claim in 1994. Last year the destination won a R5-million second prize by the Department of Tourism for the cleanest and best managed tourism destination.

This a place of truly awesome beauty and isolation with a natural hot spring and comfortable accommodation.

After Blue Max and I had ended in a one all draw with the catapult in the practice session for the following day’s event for the Geriatrix Games, we settled for a sing-along with our mate Olaf Bergh next to the fire and the smell of braaivleis.

In the next newsletter: The Ground Crew tackles the sandy Molopo Riverbed, the catapult event in the Geriatrix Games, the amazing Augrabies and the big question: will we meet our target of 10 Dream before leaving South Africa?

Highlights

The Ground Crew's journey had an entirely different pace and set of challenges.

The trailer - Llewellyn - suffered a broken axle before reaching Kleinbegin, near Karasburg. Llewellyn did not serve the ground crew for the entire journey, spending days waiting for repairs, and then being strategically abandoned when the dirt roads were too rough.

What is a groundcrew without a trailer? Hardworking and tough!

Sossusvlei saw everyone exploring on foot, taking in the vast and stark beauty of the red sand dunes, contrasted against the white clay deposits and black dead tree branches in the vlei.

Sossusvlei

The Wind

There were days spent waiting for the wind to settle so that we could fly. At Hammerstein we waited. We had been on our journey for 29 days, flown 2300 km. in 31 flying hours and lost about 10 days through bad weather and breakdowns.At Sesriem we were halted; the wind blowing to the point that we were afraid that our aircraft that was secured to the camp bungalows, would be blown away.

The Terrain

 

We’ve flown over the most beautiful landscapes in the world. We’ve flown over deserts, canyons, beaches, the sea, mountains, dunes, savannah type terrain, vast stretches of the Kalahari, bushveld etc. and enjoyed most of it. There were three legs however that were exhilarating afterwards but really scary during the flight -

  • The 57 km flight over the Namib desert from Sossusvlei to Meob Bay,
  • 55 km leg from Uis to Libertas,
  • and 180 km leg from Libertas to Reveille game farm over nothing but Mopani trees

These were some of the most uncomfortable bits of flying that I’ve ever done.

Namib Desert

Libertas

Flight to Walvis Bay - triker's heaven

The runway - or rather a huge beach - was our restpoint before we set off for Walvis Bay into a strong head wind for our final leg of about 100 nm (185 km). This was undoubtably the most exhilarating flight of my life.At times we flew 20 feet above the beach at speeds of about 80 kph over colonies of seals each with a few jackals hovering on the fringes. The seals would dive into the water and the jackals frantically run inland to escape these giant raptors flying overhead.Sandwich Harbour is a huge bay with flocks of flamingos and we took a shortcut across the bay at about 2000’above the sea and over some seriously microlight unfriendly beaches and dunes before heading inland to Walvis Bay.

The Dream

Amazing news!!!! A friend and neighbour has paid another R30000 into the Reach for a Dream Foundation's account and has pledged to pay another R5000 a month for six months, meaning that we have in fact reached our target of R125 000 and also meaning that we'll get another R75 000 from RMB.

Closing

Now that I have more time on my hands, I will post some photos and videos to the various daily blogs to help you also have a visual experience of the journey. It has truly been the most exiting experience of my life and something that will remain with me for a while.