Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Cape Town to Goodwood Day 4: Tracey Now in Lanseria

Mary Heath spent many happy days visiting flying clubs in South Africa whose members "gave me of the very best human beings can give in held and kindness, and if I may say so, affection" and Tracey Curtis-Taylor has found that nothing much has changed. 

After four days of flying, Tracey has reached Durban in the Spirit of Artemis.  On day one, after taking off from Cape Town she got to Port Elizabeth via George;  on the second day not sure where she ended up but she was flying towards Wing's Park in East London. 
The first words out of Tracey’s mouth as she brought her Boeing Stearman to a halt in slot B9 at the Port Elizabeth Airport were; “You guys live in an amazing country. I just experienced an amazing sight of whales frollicking in the water below me as I flew up your stunning coastline!”   
For Mary Heath, Port Elizabeth "seemed to me one of the windiest places in the world." There she christened the  club's new Westland Widgeon ZS AAH, which was called the "Lady Heath" and flown by the Arthur Schoeman (1909-1982) whose son, also Arthur, came to see  Tracey off in Cape Town.
Part of the welcoming party for Tracey in Port Elizabeth  was South Africa’s first black female pilot in the South African National Defence Force, Captain Phetogo Molawo, who said she was inspired by Curtis-Taylor’s brave journey.
There was a small problem with oil leaking from the front of the engine at Port Elizabeth, so Ewald Gritsch, the team's engineer, flew with Tracey to confirm  that everything was all right.
On Monday, Tracey was in Johannesburg where she was greeted by members of the Johannesburg Light Plane Club.
"We had a wonderful get together at Baragwanath yesterday when Tracey arrived," says Roy Watson. "Even though it was Monday, there were a number of members to cheer her on and I think that the team really enjoyed the afternoon.
"When Tracey took off, I had the film crew with me and we filmed her take-off from behind. Lined up behind us were my two sons;  Courtney in my Tiger Tiggy and Patrick in the Cessna 140.
They took off immediately and formatted on Tracey."
Today she took off from Lanseria, the airport  situated between Johannesburg and  Pretoria, after midday. In the next few days, she will travel north, first to Botswana,  and then  hitting Bulawayo, where Lady Heath so memorably made a forced landing  after suffering from heat stroke. She still managed to land her plane without damaging it.
However communications being what they were in those days (telegraph poles regularly fell foul of copper thieves and hungry giraffes),  the newspapers of the time became greatly agitated about her "disappearance".
She hadn't disappeared -  she was being cared for by the harem of a local chieftain before Mrs Pat Fletcher the wife of a local British farmer, drove past and spotted her. Tracey will meet members of the Fletcher family when she arrives in Bulawayo.
Lady Heath's South African flight of 1928 -
Jan 5 - Cape Town to Port Elizabeth
Jan 9 - To Durban, Tsolo,Umtata
Jan 11 - To Durban
Jan 13 - To Pietermaritzburg
Jan 22 - To Johannesburg
Feb 24 - To Pretoria
Feb 25 - Long flight really began; set off for Bulawayo; forced landing at at Fort Usher, 10 miles distant

No comments: