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Newletter South Africa Issue Number 9 Battle Fields Fly—in Dundee Kwazulu Natal Editor Winter is at our doorsteps once again, that means time for those long trips b e c a u s e t h e t h u n d e r s t o r m component is almost non existent. Make sure your machines are in tip top flying condition and enjoy those trips and send me an Email about it My Email Address is On Friday the 25 April , Laura and I got air
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  Newletter South Africa Issue Number Battle Fields Fly—in Dundee Kwazulu Natal   Editor   Winter is at our doorsteps once again, that means time for those long trips  because the thunderstorm component is almost  non existent. Make  sure your machines are in tip top flying condition and enjoy those trips and send  me an Email about it  My Email Address is On Friday the 25 April , Laura and I got airborne from FAZS at about 8:45 am and headed for FASY, where we would meet up with other Gyro pilots that wanted to join us on our trip to Battle Fields. After landing and topping up Cizy’s fuel tank for our flight to Newcastle. Eric and his new student land and came and had a chat with us, this student of Eric’s is one of those genuine (call a spade a spade) true to life bush boys you seldom come across these days, a very interesting fellow  with a great sense of humor. His name Bennitt Joubert,(see Pic1) he was very quick to point out that his name is the Afri-kaans Benn i tt and not the soutie Benn e tt. Bennitt is a leading White Lion breeder and has 20 years experience breeding White Lions on his farm in Mafekeng, he also breeds with Ex-otic Animals, Exotic Birds and Crocodiles and now recons he is getting to old to fly his quick Beach Craft Bonanza hence the Gyro idea. I got news for you Bennitt you have to be just as sharp to fly a gyro properly as a Bonanza. Any way the usual happens, we are in good company and only get airborne an hour later, no worries about time however we don’t fly we gyro and therefore don't mind the thermals. The weather gods are good to Laura and I once again the con-ditions are CAVOC , we decide to change our routing this time, to make it more interesting and route Newcastle via  Vrede what a lovely choice, rolling hills isolated old fash-ioned farmhouses with the veranda that goes all the way around the house. This route is much shorter than our usual route of Standerton, Volksrust, Newcastle and we have a tail- wind for a change and get to Newcastle in record time of 1 hour 25 minutes. Newcastle is a very important airfield for us, guys just think about it Harrismith and Ladysmith have stopped selling fuel , its only Newcastle left at this Halfway strategic point, if it was not for Newcastle having fuel our trips to the Coast would be-come a logistical nightmare, so please support the fuel pump  when in this area, it’s the old story supply and demand. Com-ing into Newcastle from the Vrede side is quite an experience as the town comes into sight you are on top of this high flat mountain then the ground just drops away into the escarp-ment for thousands of feet it gives you this feeling of vertigo. I  just love landing at Newcastle where the wind hardly blows and temperature is always pleasantly hot. Fuel up with Avgas, pay my R 2.98 landing fee, a bite to eat and on we go, air-borne again to our destination Battle Field Lodge 25minutes flying time away. Ten minutes out of Newcastle we run into a blanket of thick low cloud down to the ground, having flown in this area many times before I know that there is some dan-gerous high ground around and ahead , decision time. With full tanks and only fifteen minutes to run we decide to go “Topside”, if when we get to Battle Fields and cannot see the airfield we will have lots of fuel to look for a hole to get through, if there are no holes we will have ample fuel to get back to Newcastle and wait it out. We find a hole directly above us and climb through it, its clear blue sky at 6300ft  with a few small puffs a 100ft or so above the main blanket and as smooth as a baby’s bottom There are holes all over the place I am glad we made a good decision once again.  We enjoy the rare occasion of flying above the cloud base, so very true three dimen-sional are these cotton balls of varied shapes and sizes, occasionally we let one of the small ones fly through us, the rotors go silent when this happens. Time goes by so fast when you are having a good time,  we have already reached our top of decent I spot Battle Fields Lodge with its long dirt runway next to the lodge a few miles ahead, and directly ahead of us. We de-scend “hard” and call directly over the field , join on a left hand downwind runway 27, downwind checks , base leg, and then finals low over the fence and a MAGNIfi-cient landing on the numbers. The runway feels different this year, I then notice on closer inspection that it has been scrapped and none of those veldt grass tuffs are visi-ble, well done shaughn and Lourens you guys did a marvelous job of the runway surface, and I believe are in the process of planting some fancy type of grass that grows flat and knits itself together to form a type of blanket. Who is Lourens? Well, I think Lourens is part owner of Battle Field Lodge, I do know for sure though that he is the husband of the owner whose name is Nan and is a very good host, and Shaughn ( 1st Pic) is an enthusiastic Aviator who lives in Dundee and organizes this yearly flyin. Shaughn does a stunning job in orga-nizing this event with food stalls on the Saturday, music and fun things of which I  will tell you of later . I am still running down the turbocharger  when the owner and best host in the whole  world toddles onto the field grinning from ear to ear , she welcomes us and whisks Laura off to our room not even 200 meters from the runway, by the time I get there their is freshly made chicken mayonnaise and cheese and tomato sandwiches wait-ing for me on the table just outside our room how's that for service. The rooms are big, clean and cool with a TV set a double and a single bed for a mere R125.00 per person per night, is this value for money or  what, even for you mingy gyro pilots, (only  joking, put down those stones guys or at least give me a chance to put my helmet on). We relax for the afternoon , and then go for a flight at about 4:30 pm, we do the Battle Field route that I will be taking the guys on tomorrow to make sure I have  worked out the correct co-ords because two of them have the same Eastern way-points , they are spot on. We admire the rolling hilly grass lands of the Natal coun-tryside also the friendly local people, we fly over an area called the Tugela Ferry I almost fall out of the cockpit every body down there is topless, its like being in a nudist colony, all the ladies are wearing are very colorful skirts old, medium, young every female. Wow what a sight, I mark this area in the GPS as “Titty Valley”. On our flight back to the Lodge we witness a most spectacular sunset, the set changes every few seconds ,Laura is in her element snapping away with her camera and ends up taking 50 Pic’s of the changing sunset, by the time we get back to the Lodge its al-most dark and I have to put Cizzy to bed with not been able to see to much. The Lodge guys are so organized they have posted a guard near the runway to make sure Cizy  will be safe tonight. We shower and off to the pub/restaurant , what a lovely evening, chatting and joking with the locals. I had one of the best Beef Potjie Kos and Putu Pap meals I have ever had, If you ever stay here guys this dish is recommended. Lots and lots of winhoek lagers later we are off to our room for a peaceful nights sleep…..well for me it was, Laura says I snored the house down again, and no matter how hard she kicked me in the ribs I just would not stop. Sorry girl but what about the bruises you gave me?!. The next morning it was up early but I was not so bright eyed and bushy tailed as I should have been thanks to the Wind-hoek I call mothers milk. It was such an eary feeling this morning the mist was very thick and right down to the ground you could not see more that a few meters in front of you, reminded me of the articles I read when I  was little, about the Jack the Ripper and Old London town, you have no chance of seeing trouble approaching with this type of vizabil-ity. I also started to wonder how the British soldiers who frequented these parts so many years ago must have felt like when they knew the enemy was out there close by but  where, it sent shivers up my spine, just thinking about these poor soles so far from their motherland having to fight some stupid  war surrounded by mist. We had a hearty breakfast and just sit around waiting for the mist to lift, I met Nan near the airfield, she was busy scurrying around checking on last minute things for the flyin, she told me that she has received phone calls from pilots that had landed just outside the mist area, and where waiting for it to lift, you could also hear the occasional Microlight buzzing overhead but you could not see them, they would buzz around for a  while and then eventually leave. This meant that they could obviously not see the run- way, and had to go and find somewhere else to land. The mist carried on until about 10: am before the sun burnt it off and then pilots arrived in there droves including my friend that speaks funny, Arthur and his lovely wife Rossini, also Jean-Pierre and his lovely wife Ilean not much later. We spend the after-noon chatting and eating from one of the  well run food stores next to the flight line and watching airplanes flying past, my choice for the day was Indian lamb roti, very tasty but very hot, Arthur spend his after-noon flipping people and makes a fortune over the next two days, when you look into his eyes all you see is dollar signs. I really  would like to know how much you made Ar-thur, at R100.00 for ten minutes all day long?. My friend that speaks funny is now my friend that is in the money HA HA!!. We are also  very lucky Shaughn had organized so well that Caltex was there with drums of Mogas and fuel attendants working from a petrol driven pump system, what more can one ask for.    Battle Fields Continues  At 4pm we take off for our interesting flight to some of the battle field sights, our first sight is to the Battle of Blood River (see pic 1&2). Here is a brief story of what happened there. After the voortrekkers had failed to negotiate with the Zulus for secession of land for settling and grazing, they assembled at the Ncome River for a decisive battle. On December 16,1838 464 Boers under the command of Andries Pretorius defeated more than 10,000 Zulu  warriors without losing one Boer. The deeply religious Boers did not ascribe the military victory to their technically supe-rior armaments, but interpreted it pri-marily as a sign from God. With the battle behind them they believed even more strongly that white predominance over blacks is God’s own will. The monument at the Blood River, a fort of cast bronze  wagons, brings to life the terrible events of 1838 which meant the beginning of the end of the Zulu Kingdom. In December 1998, a memorial for the 3,000 Zulu sol-diers who died in battle was inaugurated by Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi across the river from the Afrikaner monu-ment. We then flew on to the Battle of Isandlwana (Pic3) After the defeat of the Zulus in the Battle of Blood River, there  was peace for a while, but soon the British and the Voortrekkers started to fight for supremacy over Natal. Ultimately the bit-ter conflict were decided in favour of the British. In 1844, Natal became a Crown Colony and the voortekkers retreated. In 1879 the British laid claim on the whole of Zululand and gave Zulu King Ceshwayo a practically unacceptable ultimatum. In the resulting Anglo-Zulu War, the British ini-tially suffered a high number of casual-ties. The battle of Isandlwana Mountain on the 22 January 1879 was particularly dis-astrous. About 20,000 Zulu soldiers over-ran the British army camp. Despite their superior armament, the British could not cope with the power of attack. Many just covered their faces with their hands wait-ing to be stabbed, though others crept into their tents or tried to run away. Within a few hours almost 2,000 soldiers  were savagely killed. At first this victory for the Zulu King shocked and petrified the British. However, England decided to send more troops and the Anglo-Zulu War continued with heavy loss of life's, until it ended in victory for the British in 1887 We continued from here to the Battle of Rorke’s Drift (pic4&5) Prince Dubula-manzi kaMpande commanded an impi the “Undi Corps” of 4,500. His men had played little part in the action at Isandhlwana, but goaded on by his men, and despite the order of his brother, King Cetchwayo kaMpande, not to cross the Buffalo River into Natal, he chose to attack the British supply base close to a river crossing known as Rorke’s Drift, which the AmuZulu called KwaJimu. The post  was established in a trading store-cum-mission station that consisted of a chapel, and a dwelling house, both sturdily built of stone. The house was doing temporary duty as a field hospital, the chapel was full of stores and there were only 104 men who  were fit enough to fight. The command of the post was passed to Lieutenant Chard of the Royal Engineers, when Mayor Hendy Spalding of the 104th Regiment left on the morning of the 22nd January. James Lang-ley Dalton, a volunteer serving as an act-ing Assistant Commissary and a former Staff Sergeant, ordered the construction of barricades connecting the two buildings  with sacks of corn, and an inner barricade of biscuit boxes. When the Zulus attacked,  wielding their short stabbing assegais, they were unable to reach the men behind the barricades and they were blasted by rifle fire at point blank range. Most of these who did mount the breastwork were repulsed by the bayonets of the defend-ers. Some of the Zulus were armed with rifles, purchased from unscrupulous trad-ers, but they were not trained marksmen and the British soldiers were able to pick them off at long range. After a number of unsuccessful attacks the Zulus set fire to the hospital, burst in and began to spear the patients. A private named Alfred Henry Hook a Gloucestershire man, kept them at bay with his bayonet while his friend John Williams hacked a hole in the  wall separating one room from another and dragged the patients through one by one, the last man had dislocated his knee William had to break the other to get him out of a window and into the yard where the barricades offered some protection. Fighting went on all night in the fitful glare from the blazing hospital as the Zulus made charge after charge on the barri-cades. Both sides fought with desperate courage. A patient from the hospital a Swiss born adventurer Christian Fernand Schiess stabbed three Zulus in quick suc-cession after he had clambered over the breastwork. In the yard Surgeon James Henry Reynolds tended to the wounded, oblivious to the life and death struggle going on all around him. Those too badly hurt to shoot propped themselves up as best they could and reloaded the guns, and re-supplied ammunition to those who  where still on their feet. When dawn came at last the Zulus drew off taking their wounded with them and leav-ing at least 351 dead around the barri-cades. Later Lord Chemsford arrived on the scene with a column of British Soldiers. We are having such a brilliant flight, but have to get back to the Lodge Airfield for our spot landing competition and our flower bombing competition with a differ-ence, we already have our ammunition loaded into the Gyro. I push goto B-Lodge the arrow on the GPS points me in a almost direct westerly direction. 20minutes later field in sight we call ………….  Battle Fields Continues Battle Field radio, Shaughn is ATC as well, a man of many talents, he lets us know that the microlight pilots had already done there thing and the crowd was waiting for us with bated breath , we as good pilots form a formation one behind the other, me taking the lead, Jean-Pierre next and Arthur last and keep good separation for our first run of spot landing, the idea is you try to land on this white line painted across the runway, take off again and set yourself up for the flower bombing run, well needless to say none of us landed on the line we  where either short or over ,no cigar for us Gyro pilots, but its all in the fun of it, the crowd seemed to love it, for the flower bombing run  what happens is the crowd stands in a tight group while we from above try to drop a small bag of baking flower on their heads Needless to say we “sucked” at this event as well, round we go again, for our second and final spot landing that then becomes a full stop landing, this one becomes interesting when flaring we all notice, and once we land discuss the high ground speed before touch down it turns out that with all the excitement going on neither ATC nor any of us had noticed that the wind had swung 360 degrees and in fact we had landed downwind on our full stop run, shows you one can never be to careful. We put our MAGNIficient machines to bed, off to our rooms for a shower and to change into some fresh cloths for the pilots prize giving and a party and a Braai. The hosts have organized this large marquee with tables and chairs in it for us, and the party begins with speeches, thanks, and fines, and guess who is the MC…….Shaughn. I told you he was a man of many talents, we all curse him the next day with all the forfeits and fines he came up with, to make us drink ,Tequila, Peppermint liquor ect how is this one, I get a fine for being the first Pilot to arrive, also Laura and I get a fine for Been party poopers the previous night and going to bed early HA !!you just jealous I had a nest to go to. Jokes aside we had a wonderful evening, drinking braaiing and mingling with the very friendly pilots and locals. I also meet my new friend Brandon and his sexy mom Lee_Ann . Brandon gives me a crash course on fly fishing, and I am amazed at his enthusiasm and knowledge on this sport, if he does not become a champion fly fisherman one day I will eat my hat. I promise to take him for a flip in the morning so that he can show me his house and school. That night another good sleep this time we push it till 8am before we decide to get up, boy do I have a headache, I never learn and I don’t think I ever will. But after a good greasy breakfast I feel fine and ready to take my new friend for a flip, we wait for the mist to lift, this happens at about 9;30am this day . This guy really enjoys his flying and points his house with the big swimming pool out first fly which is quite unusual if you are use to ground navigation. Brandon and I land, then Laura and I go do a photo shoot for Nan, of a farmhouse  where Lourens grew up, and from there head back to Gauteng. We leave Jean-Pierre and Ilean behind, they are spending another night at Battle Fields, Arthur and Roshni will head back to Cato Ridge later that day. Laura and I route direct, Battle Fields- FAZS as we have a slight tail wind. The flight home was uneventful but very pleasant as Laura and I reflect on the once again great time we had this week-end , all made possible with the help of our trusty MAGNIficient flying machine Cizy. We land at FAZS with 30litres of fuel in the tank,  what a economical run we had. Another African moment caught on camera   This picture was taken by Laura on our most recent trip.  You must admit the owner of this shack had great in-sight as to what types of materials can be used to build  with, especially when they come free of charge. I just wonder how many motorists are getting lost in this area?.. This is our beloved continent Africa Ed   
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