Mission: To Photograph all the sand mining sites on the uMngeni River
Date: 7 November 2009
Requesting organisation: Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT)
Location: uMngeni River
Pilot: Donald Hicks
Report from the beneficiary, by Andrew Booth
On the 7th of November 2009 I met up with Donald Hicks at the Emoyeni airstrip just outside Camperdown. It was a hot and windy day and I was worried that we may not be able to fly, however Donald assured me that his aeroplane handled the wind well. He added that we would take-off and head in the direction of the uMngeni River, but if the conditions were too much for me to handle all I had to do was let him know and we would head straight back. I checked my GPS and Camera for the last time and climbed into the aeroplane. The aeroplane took off using only a little bit of the runway, I was already quite impressed!
The conditions in the air were a lot better than I thought they would be, I retrieved my camera from between my feet and started taking photos even before we reached the river. I knew the location of the sand mining site that was highest in the catchment so directed Donald straight there. From there we headed down river, flying with the river on our right so I could photograph out of the window. The view from where I was sitting was great, it was not necessary to take the door off. We picked out the sites easily from the air and ensured we got the shot we needed. The density of sites increased as we approached Inanda Dam, the last kilometer before the dam was virtually one large sand mining site (see pics below).
Below the Dam there were only 3 major sites, one only a few kilometers from Blue Lagoon. We had a great view of the new soccer staduim before we headed up the coast as directed by the Durban air traffic controller. Once we had passed Ballito we headed back inland toward Camperdown and landed at Emoyeni where we had started. The total flight duration was about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Thanks to all who helped create this opportunity. We are now in the process of comparing this aerial survey to one that took place on the same river 2 years ago.