Bara from the ground



Well, here we are again, the end of yet another arbitrary period of 365 days is in clear view and I feel obliged to regale you with a few more jottings as I look over last year’s effort. As one scarcely needs to mention the year 2020 is a true annis horribilis and having endured a scarcely believable hard lockdown unparalleled in our history, we now have the news that a second wave has struck and a further raft of restrictions have been imposed. Fortunately, my suffering will be less than last time because my wife is permitted to smoke.

From the point of view of JLPC, despite a few months of enforced inaction as aviators, the year was better than the last one. We suffered no deaths among our members and have had the pleasure of watching Frank Persson and Daniel von Heynitz indulge in very thorough and remarkably quick restorations of their aircraft, compliments of TAMS at Wonderboom and generous insurers. Frank likes the restoration of his Super Cub so much that he has persuaded the committee to go along with his efforts to install a brand new (but unofficial) runway which he maintains ought to be dubbed 18/36. This is aimed particularly at preventing other tail dragger owners at Bara from following Frank’s route to refurbishment, so his can remain the best PA-18A on the airfield.

Frank also supervised the task of extending 03/21 with a safety dogleg at the end. There was a great effort by the Club staff in preparing and clearing these new runways almost overnight. Jealousy for his pristine Supercub aside, these unofficial runways are available to suitably equipped members, with suitable aircraft, to use when the strong cross winds are encountered. So far the runways are deliberately not marked and it must be stressed that anyone using them does so entirely at their own risk. I recommend walking the runway before attempting to use it because we have a substantial meerkat population and holes can appear overnight.

A diesel steamroller has been delivered to the airfield but found to have rust in the engine. Rodger Gibbs is working on repairing it and once going we intend to use it to compact the new runways. Once that is done we will look into marking them appropriately.

The AGM has come and gone and you have much the same committee as in the past. I am once more in the chair, Don Lucas is Deputy and Club Safety Officer. Alan Hanes, after serving many years as Treasurer has stood down from the role, which has now been taken up by Demetre Kotsonis. Alan has our sincere thanks and has remained on the committee. Frank Persson has taken on the fuel portfolio once more, while Matthew French is the newsletter and website editor and Kelly McCauley has the Events portfolio. Advocate Wayne Boonzaier is the legal advisor and Daniel von Heynitz has taken on the hangar portfolio. At the AGM is was agreed to allow members who have been in good standing for 10 years or longer, and who have reached the age of 70, a 50% discount on subs every year. The Constitution was amended to allow for a quorum of nine ordinary members at the AGM as our numbers do not justify the previous level of 15. Our thanks to Denise who remains on as Club Secretary.

In other news, we got to host our second “Ace of Base” in as many years over what was meant to be two days (5/6 Dec) which was hampered by inclement weather on the Saturday, forcing cancellation that day and seeing a much reduced field of 24 compete on Sunday. Kelly McCauley and her mother and friends took on the catering task complicated by changing numbers and the on-again, off-again nature of the event. But again it was a great success. Thanks to Kelly and her team. There was a generally festive atmosphere and lots of good conversations.

Looking around the airfield, many of us will have noticed a blue Volksie bus bearing not David Kramer, but the dynamic duo of Gerald and Melinda. In their cleverly enlarged and wonderfully equipped double TT hangar the casual visitor can see a Piper Tripacer rapidly advancing towards airworthiness. Often labouring away with them is the inimitable Martin Morris of SAA fame who has quite impressive ability as an airframe fitter. Next door,  the Auster J/5G previously owned by Dave Gill is still inching like a rushing glacier towards airworthiness. It has had several sorties outdoors treating everyone to the sonorous and soothing tones of the Blackburn Cirrus Major III engine that powers it. Maybe next year it will trundle into the air.

No note from me would be complete without some exhorataion towards safety in the air. There is a trend towards greater safety in GA, which is international and which I am pleased we emulate. As a club our year has been exemplary, apart from the odd landing mishap, but for those who venture into, or near clouds, I am reminded of the Comair DC-3 on the let down towards Hoedspruit many years ago. The flight seemed to be going well when the co-pilot, Bill Isherwood, noticed a tree going past the window. His immediate hefty haul back on the control column resulted in a sudden landing on the side of a mountain and everyone walked away – a little shaken or stirred, but not dead. Remember, it is not only trees and goats that hide in clouds.

Goat in Clouds

We look forward to a good year at JLPC in 2021. May I wish you all from me and the Committee, a Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New year with lots of flying.