Aero Club Airbridge

The Chibuto Caper - P3

March 2000

(contd from P2 - Back) Just to make a point, the contingent of 64 Austrian soldiers camped nearby with their water purification plant making 40 000 ltrs per day, the next day raised a massive Austrian flag, a scary looking thing with fierce black eagles on it if I recall! After that there was no more crap about flags!

A must to mention is the meeting that took place at Chibuto between some of the volunteer pilots and President Thabo Mbeki.

Aero Club Airbridge

Dropping in on an inspection tour, by SAAF Puma, the pres. and entourage were greeted by local dignitaries etc. Mbeki noticed these small civilian aircraft, SA registered nogal, and strode across to where they were parked.

The first person met there was Chapter 322 member, Dave Van Der Spuy with his Cessna 310 and the Pres. put out his hand to Dave with the words, "Hello, I’m Thabo Mbeki", to which Dave extended his hand saying "Hi, I’m Dave!"

The conversation that followed revolved around the aircraft, Aero Club and the food supplies, but at the earliest opportunity Dave waded in with a request for funding. Mbeki suggested certain avenues, which to Dave sounded like a morass of bureaucracy and told the Pres. "We need the money tomorrow".

His retort was "If that’s the case, speak to my man, Sydney", gesturing to Minister for Welfare and Development, Sydney Mufumadi. From Sydney Dave got cell and fax numbers to call with a written brief and proposal, for quick action. Well of course "quick action" is clearly a relative term - nuff said!

Aero Club Airbridge

At the time of writing (end of March 2000) the operation has shifted it’s focus , with the advent of a DC3 on a dry rate, moving 3.7 tons a trip and the Wits Flying Club running a parallel operation using the infrastructure and supplies of food etc., the operation is clearly at Phase 2, but the initial objectives were certainly achieved in style and have shown just what a resource light aircraft and their pilots can be in times of disaster.

In addition to excellent press reports locally and internationally, radio and TV coverage has effectively sent the message, perhaps important in these times and this place, that private aircraft and their pilots are in fact a national resource to be maintained, not discouraged and taxed out of existence.



Andrew Fletcher loading the Grumman
Chief of Scout Troop from Chibuto and Marc Kuster with Marc's Kudu breadvan - the scouts did a fine job of helping unload stuff at the airfield.
Taken from the Kudu leaving Chibuto
The town of Chibuto - luckily several hundred feet above the water level
Chibuto 'airport' scene
Town of Chokwe underwater - this pic taken on the first recce flight in Trev's Grumman AA1B before the relief flying could begin
Arriving Maputo Airport after flight from FANS to liase with "officials' for permissions in Mozambique - l to r- Brian Wilford, Pres. Aero Club Mozambique, DH Beaver co-pilot, volunteer from Nelspruit who did a great job as our 'Mr. Fixit"
Water, water everywhere...Chibuto is 10 miles dead ahead
Poor Commanche never recovered from this! It was returned to SA but then declared a total loss and written off by the insurance company.
The late Mike Van Ginkel's Twin Commanche after landing accident
Martinus (Weef) de Beer - onetime Springbok rugby player, stll making those passes, this time not with a ball but with loaves
Twinco Props not as they should be
Chibuto became quite a busy - if very dusty - 'airport' Marc Kuster's Kudu, WWZ in foreground offloading a useful 650Kg!
The approach from the 'inland' side to Chibuto - the horizon is filled with an inland sea of floodwaters which used to be the Limpopo River! The rough ground in the foreground is what the Commanche landed on.
Grummans away!
Trevor, who initiated the project , organised the fuel sponsorships and flew sorties, looking pleased to see so many pilots have reponded to the call! At least 40 or possibly more owners/pilots answered the call - for no reward, free fuel only! One even HIRED a Cherokee Six for the task!
Grumman baggage compartment getting filled up with bread etc.
Two Grummans in this shot over the flood area
Offloading relief supplies at FANS - thanks Pick 'n Pay! Several such trucks brought supplies,all donated
Andrew Fletcher from Pretoria and his Grumman AA1B
Andrew hightails it for home after dumping his load of goodies at Chibuto with Cessna trying to get past!
"Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye...."
The weather at FANS was mostly like this throughout.
Paul's C310
Paul's C310 looking the worse for wear - undercart simply collapsed on touchdown The gear had undergone 'maintenance' just prior to this!
Inspecting the DC3 - owner and pilot Bruce K. on right
Chibuto scene - Grumman AA1B ZS-WGI with Transall taking off
The view from Marc Kuster's Kudu approaching FANS on return from Chibuto - pretty typical conditions!
Local club member Chris helping Trevor Trautmann move his airie
Piaggio Albatross pilot and Chris from Nelspruit FC. Chris was learning to fly at the club at that time
Jhb-based Pilot and Owner of Piaggio Albatross about to depart for Chibuto
Breakfast at the Fire Assoc. offices followed by daily briefing
Brian 'walk in the park' Wilford (previously with CAA) and CAA's DH Beaver - to Brian there were no problems, only "walks in the park!"
Essential field maintenance for the Dak
C207 and Grumman AA1B leaving Chibuto for FANS
C210 heads for home after delivering the groceries
Pres. Mbeki and entourage dropped in for a visit. L to R: Dave van der Spuy - C310 pilot,Mr. Fixit from Nelspruit, sundry Chibuto scouts, guy in grey suit is Moz. politico, Thabo Mbeki in shirtsleeves, sundry scouts,Jay Nel ex-RLI, in charge of forward base,SA Government Minister,Sydney Mufumadi
Austrian Army set up a water purification plant on the field.
Oops! - A slight mishap with a turning prop! C310 taking off is Dave Van Der Spuy
Paul's C310
Trev's airie ZU-BRX parked at Chibuto
CAA's DeHavilland Beaver
German/Belgian/Spanish? Transall at Chibuto
Lots of shaking of heads
Camp Aero Club - the mosquitos were fierce!
Chibuto scene
Chibuto scene
Camp Aero Club - paradise on earth!
Ettienne and Kitfox after unloading, ready for the homeward leg.
WHO Food Aid stuff and helpers at Chibuto
A new attraction at the airfield - damaged Piper Commanche
Chibuto scene
Jay Nel - Aero Club's "Good Man in Africa" meets Dutch Royal, Queen Maxima at Chibuto
Dutch Royal, Queen Maxima and entourage at Chibuto
Aid organisation brought the royals by Jet Ranger
Loading a truck to get the stuff to those who need it
Sightseers perhaps?
Returning to FANS in DC3
Truck loaded and ready to depart with hopeful crowds in background!
From DC3
From DC3
Interior of DC3 loaded
Jay Nel, 'ex-military but I don't like to talk much about that', supervises unloading of the DC3 at Chibuto
Camp Aero Club Chibuto
Interior of DC3
Rolling for Chibuto
MH-53 Helicopter - the ground shakes when this thing starts up!
Typical Moz shack
Martinhus (Weef) de Beer in his Grumman AA1B arrives at Chibuto
Dave's C310 lifts off for Chibuto
Foreign Transall at Chibuto - could be Belgian, Spanish or German?
Dave van der Spuy's Cessna 310 at FANS
From DH Beaver approaching Maputo on liason trip before flights began
Post Breakfast briefing time at FANS
Breakfast time
DC3 from FANS tower
MH-53 of USAF - Pilot told us that he and his crew and helicopter were based in the UK and had been flown out to Moz in a heavy lift aircraft for the relief mission
Supplies stored at Nelspruit Fire Station
MH-53 arrives FANS. This machine was sent to retrieve the body of a US serviceman who had been killed in a climbing accident near Nelspruit while on leave