The 9th Jets-R-Us Fly-in took place over the weekend of 6th to 10th July 2016. After an absence of 3 years the event was back at the Gariep Dam Airfield previously known as Hendrik Verwoerd Dam.
The event was the second largest Gariep Fly in with a total of 98 pilots attending.
We arrived on Wednesday lunch time after a good drive down from JHB, with most of the JHB pilots riding in convoy. We had a few PTA pilots driving in convoy who left at around 3am. Arriving at the field the venue was found as usual to be in tip top condition. We arranged to have the grass cut around the taxi way and the further side of the runway which made it more convenient to park trailers and aircrafts and for pilots and spectators to sit. It also gave more space down the taxi way for the public to walk through and not damage planes.
Trailers were parked either side of the taxiway which worked on a first come first served basis. Thursday morning a pilots briefing was held just after 09h00 with around 80% of the total amount of pilots being there with the balance of pilots arriving throughout Friday and Saturday morning. The pit area was quickly filed with pilots and aircrafts eager to get in the sky and enjoy themselves. A local caterer was on hand operating from one of the hangars making breakfast and lunch for all the hungry people. Flying took place from around 08h00 every day till darkness set in with the last pilots leaving the field around 18H00. The event drew a lot of families and friends this time with around 160 people in total attending.
Gariep offers great accommodation which makes it a great mid-year break for the whole family. The town has grown over the past 4 years with the erection of a larger supermarket, some very good restaurants and most of the accommodation being upgraded. The town folk went out their way to accommodate all and make our stay as enjoyable as possible.
Saturday evening all went off to the local bowling club where a braai was organised where around 140 people attended. A local band was supplied playing background music and were taking donations for their efforts. A overhead projector was showing some photos of the last 8 years’ of events. Before supper started a few thank you’s were done by the organisers as well as a prize giving. Every lady who attended the event was given a little gift of appreciation for supporting the man in their lives which was sponsored by Alex Kuys and Tiffe Gouws. A gift pack made up of Annique Beauty products was sponsored by the Lettau family who were most probably the most excited family to go back to Gariep and the first to book their accommodation. The gift pack was given out by doing a lucky draw with all the ladies names placed in a bowl. Around 40 prizes were given to some of the pilots which was also done in the same manner of drawing a name.
These prizes were donated by the following sponsors:
Pierre Fouche (3WSA)
Mr Anonymous 1
Mr Anonymous 2
Corrie Coetzee (Cors-Air)
Marius Lensing (Marko Sweiswerke)
Louis Vermaak (Afridrill)
Paula Denysschen (Bag Lady)
Chris Venter (RCT4B)
Tobie Kock (Devine Group)
Darryl Leggs (Aviation artist)
The contributions made by the sponsors helped to make the event more successful and we are very grateful for their continued support.
Every year a painting is created by the renowned Aviation artist Darryl Leggs, this is known as the Adriaan Bakker Memorial Trophy and is given to a pilot after the weekend for whatever reason the organisers feel fit. The theme for every year’s painting is based on an aircraft of the SA Airforce, this year a Cessna was chosen as the subject.
The trophy was awarded to George Van Den Bergh who was ridden by bad luck starting on the Friday evening before the event when he collected his brand new Dolphin Jet. On returning home he took it out the bakkie turned it over and the canopy fell off and shattered. With help from various modellers, family and friends a canopy was found and was delivered from Cape Town to Gariep on Wednesday whilst George was on his way from PTA. But the saga continues, at around 03H30 Wednesday morning the next bad luck struck, the trailer, a borrowed one nog al, came off the bakkie and collided along the side of the road without George realising it was no longer following him. After back tracking on the freeway around JHB the trailer was found, re hitched and ready to go. Only problem the 40 size brand new never maidened Stik was in 3 pieces, the Dolphin Jet had 2 horizontal stabs totally broken. The one third scale Cessna was in 100% condition except for the two aluminium wing spars that were bent. Arriving at Gariep spars were found at the local hardware store, what luck that was, finding 2 odd sizes in the middle of the Karoo and the Cessna was soon airworthy. For the Dolphin it took about 2 nights of him and his helpers drinking time to patch and repair the stabs but by Saturday it was up and flying. Well done to the team.
Regarding other mishaps there were only 2 prop planes damaged and some stab and nose damage on 2 jets. Overall an excellent weekend was spent with good weather and good friends. A special welcome to the 19 new pilots that made their first trip to a Jets-R-Us event and a special thanks to all who helped to keep the venue clean of litter, stompies and bottle tops.
All are looking forward to Gariep 2017 which will be our tenth year so we have to GO BIG or GO HOME and all of this JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT!!!
Till next time