Tag Archives: stellenbosch flying club

A Year of life in the Helderberg (2019-12-31) Photo Gallery 25 APR 2020

So with the 2016, 2017 and 2018 image dump posts of all the photos which aren’t linked to a blog post now sitting all safe and sound with my web host, I guess that I need to add the 2019 batch as well, seeing as we are now well and truly into 2020. (Also, sorry for not doing one of my annual Goodbye Hello posts at the start of this year – honestly they’ve become a little too routine to continue for now).

This particular selection features first days, sport, concerts and voting at Gordon’s Bay Primary School, Mark Haze at Die Boer in Durbanville, a turn at Home Affairs in Somerset West, the view from my office in Westlake, Ocean Basket’s Harbour Island View in Gordon’s Bay, the solar panel parking and delicious green curry from Wang Thai at The Sanctuary in Somerset West, wine and cheese tasting at Steenberg Vineyards, planes at the Stellenbosch Flying Club airstrip, views from Somerset Mall and the Helderberg Shopping Centre of all places, a Somerset West night time Christmas market, walks along the Lourens River, strolls along the Strand beach promenade, and of course scenes from our home here in beautiful little Gordon’s Bay.

Plus Belgian waffles – because those things are of course delightful.

A Stroll through Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch (2019-03-31) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 25 OCT 2019

I’m quite fond of the extremely accessible Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch. Situated within the town itself, the park is compact, has well marked out paths, gives gorgeous distant views of the Stellenbosch mountains, and really is a breath of fresh air and tranquility for any nature lovers out there.

This particular trip to Jan Marais saw me riding solo, with Chantelle busy with cakes/and or relaxing on the couch, and neither of my girls wishing to abandon playing with their friends in order to join me for a healthy walk. Not that this bothered me in the slightest though – the perfect opportunity then to take my time, first stopping to do some plane spotting at the Stellenbosch Flying Club, then tracking down the sports club and Danie ‘Doc’ Craven bronze statue that I remembered from my twenties, before finally setting out to explore the little nature reserve at my own gentle pace.

There is public art to behold, renosterveld fynbos to experience, a kids play area (which for a change I didn’t have to stop at), an outdoor gym for the eager beavers, enough space for both cyclists and walkers to enjoy at the same time, and it always makes for a great photo walk.

Perfect really.


Flower and Plane Watching at the Stellenbosch Flying Club (2016-09-03) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 SEP 2016

With Chantelle and Tarryn treating her mom to a surprise high tea at the Mount Nelson (in celebration of Cheryl’s birthday), the girls and I were left to our own devices – and ordered to kill time until a big family birthday braai get together come that evening.

So the kids and I did what I currently enjoy doing the most – we hit the road and went exploring.


Apart from the two interesting finds that we did make on the day, the first being Vredenhof Organic Estate in Somerset West, and the second being the Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch, the most colourful of the lot was our small detour to the Stellenbosch Flying Club to do a bit of plane watching.

You see, an unexpected bonus lay in wait for us: the airstrip had been transformed into a colourful wild flower display, thanks to Spring being currently in the air!


Jessica decided that she was quite content to rest and watch planes from the comfort of the car (parked under a nice and shady tree), so it was just Emily and myself then that happily wandered about the grounds, admiring the blooming flowers and excitedly watching the odd plane take off and come back in again for landing.


It was an absolutely gorgeous day out, and we spotted quite a few people relaxing at the clubhouse restaurant. (Interesting fact: with over 600 members and 160 aircraft based on the airfield, Stellenbosch is now considered one of the biggest Flying Clubs in South Africa).


Much to Emily’s annoyance, I paid far too much attention to the historic De Havilland Vampire on display, but it couldn’t really be helped – this is after all the plane that for all intent and purpose ushered in the jet age for the South African Air Force (SAAF) back in the day.

Anyway, the point is that this was a rather nice, quick and rewarding stop on a day which in the end was going to turn out to be quite a long one indeed!

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Oh, seeing as access to the flying club is open to the general public, I’ve gone and added this map in case you also want to head out that way and watch some planes – or grab an introductory flight lesson like I did last year! ;)

Related Link: Stellenbosch Flying Club | Facebook

Birthday Weekend away in Franschhoek (2015-05-08) Photo Gallery 23 JUN 2015

The fact that I was going to be away for business in Sandton for my birthday back in May, meant that Chantelle and I bumped things up a little and headed out to breathtaking Franschhoek the weekend preceding Monday the 11th, free of the kids (thanks grandparents!) and ready to take in some culture!

IMG_20150508_153156 coffee at peregrine farm stall

Early Friday afternoon saw us hit the road, and the impromptu decision to head out to Franschhoek by looping around Viljoen’s Pass and then Franschhoek Pass was a good indicator of how the weekend was going to be. Relaxed, fun, and full of beautiful things.

An unplanned stop at the Peregrine Farm Stall resulted in some delicious coffee and cake to start things off, and then it was back on the road for what was one of the more scenic drives that I’ve enjoyed for quite some time!

IMG_20150508_162456 viljoens pass to theewaterskloof dam between grabouw and villiersdorp

The guest house that Chantelle had picked out for us (she organised the entire weekend mind you!) was a place by the name of Maison d’Ail – a luxurious guest house nestled under the Franschhoek mountains, fronted with a beautiful pool and even more majestic views. Given that there weren’t any other bookings for the weekend, the owner graciously upgraded us to his luxury suite – which came with its own little balcony and even more views of Franschhoek mountains!

IMG_20150508_171108 maison d'ail guest house in franschhoek

The guest house was perfect, the food great and the accommodation comfortable – not that we spent all that much time there mind you. This was to be a proper weekend of being out and about! :)

Chantelle and I enjoyed a relaxing stroll around Franschhoek before heading out to supper on Friday evening, picking out the French Connection Bistro as our place of choice for the evening. As expected, both the food and wine was excellent, and seated outside for the view and fresh air, we were treated to a fantastic night out and about in Franschhoek.

IMG_20150509_120354 chantelle lotter strolling around franschhoek

Saturday morning was an early start, as we raced away after a hearty breakfast to an undisclosed location, me genuinely excited at not knowing where we were heading or what my big birthday surprise was meant to be, Chantelle super excited by the fact that I was both so excited and clueless at the same time!

Sadly for her though, her big surprise was ruined, when, after arriving at the Stellenbosch Flying Club (my mouth was hanging on the floor at this stage), a young pilot let us know that due to the overcast conditions at all the other landing strips, my intro flight had to unfortunately be cancelled. Absolute devastation.

Shame, Chantelle was literally in tears! (Note: a lot of rescheduling later, I did eventually go up in a Cessna Skyhawk – it was awesome!)

So it was a sad drive back to Franschhoek for Chantelle, but thankfully our next stop was exactly what was needed to bring back a little cheer to her face – the ‘chocolate experience’ tasting and informational session at the Belgian-trained chocolatiers, Huguenot Fine Chocolates.

IMG_20150509_105749 huguenot fine chocolates belgian chocolatier in franschhoek


Following that, we strolled around Franschhoek a bit, taking in the great sunshine and atmosphere, stopped for some coffee at Sacred Ground (the coffee shop / bakery that Chantelle used to supply with cupcakes and cakes back in the day), and booked our tickets for the Wine Tram experience on Sunday.

With that done, it was on to the next site for the day: Johan Rupert’s fabulous Franschhoek Motor Museum at the L’Ormarins Estate. Chantelle had organised a tour guide for the session, and we spent the next couple of informative hours strolling through the four massive barns filled with some of the most beautiful classic cars you have ever seen – an experience which even load shedding couldn’t take the shine off of!

IMG_20150509_141234 franschhoek motor museum classic car

And then the day got even better.

As we stepped out of the front door following our excursion, I was greeted by a beautiful 1959 Cadillac Series 62 convertible – to which Chantelle then strode and climbed in!

Yes, Chantelle had organised for us to be driven along the estate, stopping for a light snack in between. What a fantastic experience!

IMG_20150509_145924 franschhoek motor museum ride in a classic red 1959 cadillac series 62 convertible

The excitement of the car museum behind us, we then decided to head out on a bit of a drive, and made our way through to the Hillcrest Berry Orchards for some scones and tea – a personal favourite of Chantelle and something we do without fail at least once or twice a year! :)

IMG_20150509_162050 scones and muffins at hillcrest berry orchards

Relaxed, full and rather content with life in general, we finally headed back to Maison d’Ail to put our feet up for a little bit, before once again heading into Franschhoek, our goal the fabulous Roca restaurant perched on the top of a hill on the Dieu Donne wine estate.

Needless to say, the food at this particularly cosy and majestic eatery was absolutely brilliant!

IMG_20150509_184939 chantelle lotter having supper at roca in franschhoek

Sunday was to be the day of wine, and following a good night’s rest and a great breakfast, we packed our bags, bid farewell to Maison d’Ail and headed off to the pickup point for the Franschhoek Wine Tram, looking forward to our first ever taste of their hop-on hop-off tour.

We selected the estates that we wanted to visit (in the end, we only made it to three of the six on our particular line!), and off we went, the cute and clever little tram and busses shuttling us off to the most wine tasting sessions we’ve ever experienced in a single day!

IMG_20150510_102352 franschhoek wine tram

Rickety Bridge, Grande Provence, La Couronne – we had an absolute blast, took in some beautiful views of both landscape and art, enjoyed particularly good wines, experienced a cellar tour and even paired chocolates, cheeses and wine!

An absolute stunning day out which I can only but highly recommend to anyone who enjoys drinking wine!

IMG_20150510_115411 craig lotter tasting wine at la provence wine estate

And that was that.

The weekend was over and reality returned, meaning that after a quick stop for a bite to eat and coffee to rid us of the last tipsy effects thanks to all the wine, it was off to Bellville in order to pick up the kids and then finally back home.

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Without a doubt, a birthday weekend to remember! :)

FASHKOSH 2015 Stellenbosch Airshow (2015-04-11) Photo Gallery 22 JUN 2015

Saturday the 11th of April saw Chantelle, the kids and myself make the drive through to the Stellenbosch Flying Club in order to hand over some money and spend the day watching all manner of aircraft blasting past with the most magnificent backdrop in the world – The FASHKOSH 2015 airshow had finally landed!

A clear, beautiful day, with the beauty of Stellenbosch and the roar and excitement of airplanes all around – no wonder I was as excited as a little girl who had just been given her very first puppy!

IMG_20150411_123938 fashkosh 2015 stellebosch airshow

(Chantelle couldn’t get over the fact that I just couldn’t stop grinning the whole morning long!)

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Needless to say, my phone is not particularly great at taking photos of all these magnificent beasts of the air (the Mustang, really, really enthralled me), but thankfully aviation photographer Renier Siebrits Flickr captured some pretty nice shots!

16593916383_3d8bdd60c9_h fashkosh 2015 stellenbosch flying club airshow mustang

See, much better!

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Ricky Fouché wrote up a nice little piece over at Pilot’s Post, giving a quite a nice breakdown of the spectacular day:

“The first Air show of the 2015 season was held on the 11th April at the Stellenbosch air field and was organised by Alewyn Burger and his team from the Stellenbosch Flying Club. “Air Boss” Rikus Erasmus compiled the program and ensured that most of the various aviation sectors were represented.

Displays ranged from Sky divers to Business Jets. In the mix we had the opportunity of viewing, among others, a Power Paraglider, Glider, Magni Gyro and Warbirds in the form of North American T6 Harvards, Aero Vodochody L39 Albatros, Aermacchi Bosbok and a North American P51 Mustang.

On the General aviation side we had a very rare Howard, a Husky and The Absolute Aviation Group entertained the spectators to a formation display of a King Air 250 and a Beechcraft Bonanza G36. NAC displayed a Bell 407. Business jets were represented in the form of a Dassault Falcon 50 EX .

The South African Air Force were represented By the Silver Falcons, Super Lynx on static display and 35 Squadron that set up a very interesting display in one of the hangars.

Working on Fire did a simulated fire fight. Mark Jackson and the WoF team from Stellenbosch did a display that included fire bombing from an Air Tractor AT 208 and a Bell Huey using a Bambi Bucket. They also demonstrated how a line of “fire Beaters” go about their business.”

17094815406_68d7fa1581_h fashkosh 2015 stellenbosch flying club airshow

Sadly, it turns out that an airshow isn’t particularly exciting for a toddler and a four year old little girl, so needless to say they were rather chuffed to be leaving the proceedings a little on the early side (we had another engagement on the day, Damen’s birthday braai if I remember correctly).

Lesson learned – next time the airshow rolls into town, the girls are definitely staying at home, and I’m bringing a better camera! :)

Related Link: Renier Siebrits Flickr | Pilot’s Post

Stellenbosch Flying Club Intro Flight (2015-06-06) Photo Gallery 08 JUN 2015

One of the big surprises Chantelle had organised for my big birthday weekend away in Franschhoek was a private flight with the Stellenbosch Flying Club over at the Stellenbosch Airfield. Needless to say, she was devastated when we arrived there on the Saturday morning only to be told that it had to be cancelled due to the heavy cloud and mist conditions.

In fact, the next couple of reschedule attempts also fell through due to bad weather, so in the end we instructed them to rather contact us once the weather finally looked good – which is exactly what happened this past Saturday!

IMG_20150606_113248 stellenbosch airfield in winter 1

With the flight scheduled for 12:00, Chantelle, the girls and I arrived at the Stellenbosch Airfield (just off the R44 to Stellenbosch) with plenty of time to spare, signed all the papers and met my pilot for the day, a young 22 year old chap by the name of Benrico Vermeulen.

Chantelle and the girls settled down over by the clubhouse on what truly was a gorgeous winters day – lots of sun, no wind, not too cold, and plenty of grass for the girls to run around and play on – whilst I headed off with Benrico to inspect what would the very first small plane that I’ve ever flown in before!

IMG_20150606_124019 stellenbosch flying club cessna 172 - ZS-SLM with pilot Benrico Vermeulen

The Stellenbosch Flying Club own quite a few light aircraft which they utilize as trainers, and my plane for the session was to be their little (actually, not really that little) Cessna 172 Skyhawk – which as Wikipedia tells me is actually the world’s most successful light airplane ever:

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four-seat, single engine, high wing, fixed-wing aircraft made by the Cessna Aircraft Company. First flown in 1955, more Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft… Measured by its longevity and popularity, the Cessna 172 is the most successful aircraft in history. Cessna delivered the first production models in 1956. As of 2015, Cessna, and its partners, had built more than 43,000.

(This particular one was built in the 1980’s as far as Benrico knows – which makes sense considering that the interior reminded me of that of an old Datsun bakkie!)

IMG_20150606_114458 stellenbosch flying club cessna 172 - ZS-SLM

Some instructions, a lot of interesting things pointed out, and the next thing I knew I was seated next to Benrico and being asked whether I would prefer a normal take-off or a short take-off as we taxied into position. Not knowing the difference, I replied “whichever is the most fun one”, and after an incredibly short run up we were aloft in the air, with my mouth hanging wide open in disbelief at how utterly effortless the flaps take-off had been!

We weren’t up in the sky for more than a minute or two before Benrico urged me to take the controls. (Also, I didn’t know that pretty much all planes have twin sets of controls, but in retrospect, it certainly makes sense for trainer craft to have dual controls).

Take the controls?!?

I hadn’t been counting on that, and after a moment or two of backwards and forwards thought I did nervously and gingerly take them – oh my word, what an unbelievable rush! I was piloting a plane through the sky as if it was the easiest thing in the world! (True, I didn’t have my feet on the foot controls, but it counts so I’m taking it.)

What an indescribable feeling of joy and freedom! No wonder I’m grinning like an idiot in this snap that Benrico took of me!:)

IMG_20150606_121940 craig lotter flying the stellenbosch flying club cessna 172 - ZS-SLM

The scenery on such a beautiful day was absolutely stunning. Clear blue skies, mountains all around us, initially the farmland of Stellenbosch below us, before giving way to the tennis courts of Somerset West and then finally the overhead magnificence of Strand, the deep blue ocean stretching out for miles in front of us.

Absolute heaven on earth in terms of landscape beauty!

IMG_20150606_120933 view from cessna 172 flight over stellenbosh, somerset west, strand 3

We did some tight turns, flew over the beach and the sea, lazily circled around the Strand, Benrico answered my hundreds of questions, and eventually I turned us back towards Stellenbosch, before relinquishing the controls and shutting up in order to let Benrico concentrate and bring us back down to earth safely.

Seriously, what an amazing and highly recommended experience.

IMG_20150606_124240 craig lotter standing next to the stellenbosch flying club cessna 172 - ZS-SLM he just flew in 1

If you have some extra cash lying around (the 1 hour session cost about R1,400) and have never done this before, then you are missing out big time.

Definitely something that is worth ticking off one’s bucket list! :)

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Needless to say, Chantelle was relieved to see me back safe and sound on the ground, the girls were excited to see their daddy back, and so to end off what had been a truly amazing afternoon for me, we headed off to the Root 44 market (literally on the airfield’s doorstep) for some coffee, sweet treats and playtime in the sand pit!

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Oh, and just in case you were wondering, you need about 60 hours of flight time to qualify for your licence. In other words, tempting as an option for when I eventually reach my midlife crisis period I think…

Related Link: Stellenbosch Flying Club | Cessna 172

Stellenbosch FASHKOSH 2015 Airshow takes off Next Weekend! Event News 06 APR 2015

If you don’t have plans for Saturday 11 April 2015 and happen to be milling around the Stellenbosch area, then you might be keen to know that the FASHKOSH 2015 Stellenbosch SA Airshow is on the go that day, kicking off at 08:00 in the morning!

saaf silver falcons flying in formation in cape town over the sea and in front of the mountain

The Stellenbosch Flying Club is playing host to this 2015 Stellenbosch Airshow edition, and with tickets coming in at a ridiculously low R40-R60 per person, you would be quite silly to miss it! (You can secure your tickets online via Webtickets)

Sights already confirmed include: