Wild Coast Monitoring

Jul 24, 2008

Mission: Survey of Illegal Cottage Developments on the Wild Coast
Date: 24 July 2008
Requesting organisation: Department Economic Affairs, Environment & Tourism (DEAET), Eastern Cape
Location: Wild Coast
Pilot: Barry de Groot and Peter de Villiers

Our latest flight to survey illegal cottage developments on the Wild Coast was undertaken by Bateleur pilot, Barry de Groot and his colleague, Peter de Villiers.  This is the report from Barry:

“Our brief was to collect Ruaan Botha of Cape Conservation plus a member of the South African Police Service, at the Mthatha airport. There was to have been a third observer from the legal fraternity but he was in court on the day.

The flight to Mthatha was smooth in the early morning air, and flight time was 1 hour 20 minutes.  After refuelling and meeting  the passengers we were airborne out of Mthatha, routing down the Mthatha river valley and intercepting the coastline at the river mouth, at which point we headed south coastwise to Kei river mouth. No sooner had I trimmed ZU – AFP to a comfortable cruise speed at 500 foot above the beach when Ruan was asking to divert and circle over an illegal dwelling under construction among the sand dunes. Photographs and GPS co-ordinates were taken before continuing on our way. This diversion to take photographs and co-ordinates was repeated several times along the route.

Once we reached the Great Kei river mouth we swung the trusty Cessna 172 through 180 degrees and headed north east back up the coastline passing the Mthatha river mouth and continuing on past the magnificent Waterfall Bluff and on to Mkambati where we once again turned through 180 degrees and headed back to Mthatha routing via Port St Johns. The entire inspection of approximately 480 kilometers of coastline taking at least 20 photographs of infringements at various sites took exactly 3 ½ hours.

After further upliftment of fuel in Mthatha at R16.03 per litre, saying goodbye to Ruan and Ishmail, we had a most enjoyable one hour and twenty minutes flight back home, content in the knowledge that we had just completed another successful Bateleurs mission.”

Following this flight The Bateleurs received a thank you message from Ruaan Botha:

“I would just like to thank you, Barry, for your assistance with the flight, and tell you that the data we recorded is helping me very much.  I would also like you to tell the co-ordinator of The Bateleurs that I really think what you guys are doing for this department cannot be measured in money or words.  Without your assistance with these flights, we as a department would not be where we are currently in relation to coastal management along the Wild Coast.

I want to applaud you and all your colleagues for the wonderful work that you guys are doing.”

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