Aero South Africa Exhibition

General aviation is widely accepted to be in somewhat of a decline in South Africa. Thus it is quite exciting when an exhibition aimed primarily at the general aviation sector is scheduled – look, it’s not Oshkosh or Sun ‘n Fun but this is about as good as it gets for us locals. It is also quite unusual in that there was no airshow scheduled – only static and trade exhibits. The exhibition is Aero South Africa and it was billed as an offshoot of Aero Friedrichshafen

Date Aircraft Route Flight Duration Total Hours
6 July 2019 ZU-IBM FASY – FAWB(Wonderboom National Airport) 0.8 151.6

As a carrot to encourage people to fly in on the Saturday morning, landing and approach fees at Wonderboom (FAWB) were waived. This, plus the chance to bother some sales reps about avionics I cannot afford made it obligatory to fly to Wonderboom. Reader, i would have gone for no other reason than it being Saturday. Any excuse to fly!

When we arrived at the hangar there were a couple of other club members who had similar intentions to fly to Wonderboom so we decided to go in convoy. This was always going to be an optimistic plan since one of the aircraft is Roger’s turbo Arrow (ZS-KFM) and the other was the Osprey GP-4 (ZU-CLC) which was flown by Chalkie Stobbart from Cape Town to London and back in 2009 to win the Henshaw Challenge.

Video of the Henshaw Challenge

We departed first – climbed to 7500ft and routed toward the first reporting point in the VFR corridor. 5 minutes after takeoff I spotted Roger in the Arrow a way off our right wing. As I pointed him out to Matthew in the right seat, a blur shot between us – it was the GP-4 which had left last and was already making 160kts.. We saw them again on the ground.

A band of low cloud over the northern part of the GF

The routing to Wonderboom from Baragwanath is in a fairly narrow VFR corridor passing over the city of Johannesburg and between the controlled (Class B) airspace of Lanseria and OR Tambo International airports.

Routing from FASY to FAWB – note the narrow corridor

The corridor is about 5nm wide but the recommended routing is no more than one mile either side of a line of visual reporting points. Northbound traffic is at 7500’ and southbound at 7000’. This corridor was pretty crowded as we routed north – three of us from Baragwanath, and two Mooneys and an RV-10 from Tedderfield – the latter aircraft were behind me which made me somewhat nervous as they are all faster.

I was a little concerned about the number of aircraft that were approaching the Wonderboom Controlled airspace entry point – but as it turns out I needn’t have worried. We orbited over the Roslyn VFR reporting point at 180deg from a C172 that was a little ahead of us, which was quite a lot of fun.

The air traffic controller in the tower position was doing a sterling job – he put 4 aircraft onto downwind at varying heights and managed to sequence all of us onto final approach without too much hassle – although as we crossed the threshold the previous aircraft was still slowing on the runway.

“India Bravo Mike, Are you able to accept landing clearance with the previous aircraft still on the runway?”, he asked me as we flew over the numbers…. “Affirm”, I replied and we touched down as the C182 in front of us turned off. I could have gone around, but there were another 4 aircraft inbound and a Mooney behind me – I knew I could stop before the aircraft in front and this is essentially the kind of thing that happens at the big international flyins.

General Aviation Parking – Aero South Africa – IBM in third row…

The exhibition itself was pretty enjoyable – apart from the sticker shock of the upgrade avionics! I am planning a slow upgrade of my panel to add a G5 and a certified GPS navigator so I bothered a few sales reps for information about the best way to go. To their credit, if they noticed that I was a long way from actually pulling the trigger, they didn’t let on. I also spent a few minutes chatting to Robin Coss who builds Vans aircraft to factory spec for those who don’t have the ability/space to build their own. He was showing an RV-10 which had a panel, and interior fit and finish to rival that of the SR22T which was parked next to it. A very impressive aircraft, especially when compared to one of the home built RV-10s that was being sold at the exhibition.

There were a couple of interesting aircraft on sale – although the prices reflected more optimism than realism about the purchasing power of South African pilots….

Mooney M20K ZS-KUA
Comanche (mmm) ZS-NXG
Vans RV-10 ZU-INE

I had a good look at some personal locator beacons too – there are a number of options all with pros and cons – they are expensive but to be honest, in a non ELT equipped aircraft it is probably a good idea – some of them send position reports to significant others via email or SMS. I will be spending some more time choosing one.

Our plan to eat lunch at the expo was foiled by the hour long wait time for food – we decided to get a burger at the club back at the airfield rather.

Date Aircraft Route Flight Duration Total Hours
6 July 2019 ZU-IBM FAWB – FASY 0.9 152.5

The trip back was fairly uneventful apart from significantly more turbulence – I was especially happy with my landing at Baragwanath – for the first time since I’ve been there, the wind was blowing straight down the runway – was able to keep the nosewheel up for ages – having 25kg of water in the baggage compartment helps with that (thanks Ari for the tip)!

A very pleasant outing and once again, the chance to stretch myself a little by flying into a very congested environment. Hopefully this is a portent of an upswing in general aviation in SA.

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