Working for Wetands -Suikerbosrand and surrounds

Jun 11, 2008

Mission:Identify Wetland Habitats Suitable for Rehabilitation
Date: 11 June 2008
Requesting organisation: Working for Wetlands
Location: Suikerbosrand and surrounds, Gauteng South
Pilot: Rob Osner and Tony Kent

The photo illustrates an unchannelled valley bottom wetland to the left of the road inside Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve.

The Suikerbosrand mission for Working for Wetlands was flown by Rob Osner with Tony Kent acting as his co-pilot.  This is the report prepared by Tony:

“Rob Osner and I volunteered to fly this mission request in his neat C210 out of Brakpan Benoni Airfield.

Retief Grobler and Thomani Manungufala from Working for Wetlands arrived early, armed with their cameras, GPS and Google pictures. Both are veterans at aerial surveys so the ground brief covered just the intended route – starting at Suikerbosrand, heading westerly, taking in the Blesbokspruit, Meyerton area, Rietspruit running through Evaton, then further west to the Fochville area, before completing a circular routing back to our home base.

By 09h00 we were airborne and immediately noted that horizontal visibility was rather hazy, thanks to the usual winter Gauteng smog!  Within five minutes, we were over our target area. The Suikerbosrand is a hilly area near Heidelberg running East-West, and is a declared nature reserve with plenty of zebra, wildebeest, impala and other game and birds.  It is a favourite hiking area, with overnight huts if you take the longer walks. Retief had identified six points he wanted to see and photograph, and this was a little challenging as Suikerbosrand is a relatively small area of about 30 km x 12 km.  In addition, as we flew, a few new sites needing attention presented themselves.  They needed to be photographed and have their co-ordinates noted, and this required some fairly aggressive aerial manoeuvering!  Depending on the light, Rob would position the aircraft for the best camera angle for either Retief or Thomani to snap away.

We then headed westward, which thankfully was more relaxing and gave everyone a chance to settle their tummies …

The fix at Meyerton passed quickly, as did the Rietspruit at Evaton, and onward to the four fixes in the Fochville area.

We then routed southeast towards Vanderbijlpark, flying over Boipatong and Sharpeville before intercepting the confluence of “three rivers” at Vereeniging. We then followed the Suikerbosrant River back towards Heidelberg, and finally back to Brakpan Airfield.  Just over 1.5 hours later we landed back home safely.

Our guests from Working for Wetlands expressed their gratitude for the flight, and confirmed that  they had accomplished what they set out to do.

From the pilots, again, thank you to The Bateleurs for affording us the opportunity to fly for a good cause!!”

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