Spitfire Restoration Project Joins The Elders Flight Day
The Spitfire Restoration Project was honoured to be invited to participate in The Elders Flight Day at Brakpan Airfield on April 22nd, 2023. The event, which aimed to provide more than 300 elders with the opportunity to fly for the first time, was organised by Felix Gosher.
The event was truly a sight to behold, with around 90 pilots flying in and dozens of aircraft arriving to take elders and veterans for flights throughout the morning and early afternoon.
The Elders Flight 2023 organisers attracted many sponsors and supporters – around 60 sponsors and volunteers provided aircraft, pilots, fuel and transport, food, ablutions and more while the Jeppe’s Boy High band played the bagpipes.
Ian Grace, Project Lead of the Spitfire Restoration Project, expressed his gratitude to Felix and Belinda Gosher for allowing the project to be a part of the amazing event. “It was such a life-changing experience to witness how your team treated these folk like royalty for the day. You are an amazing couple with an incredible calling. THANK YOU!” says Grace.
The project also thanked Col Mike Louw, Chairman of the South African Air Force Association (SAAFA), for his wonderful friendship and for initiating the invitation to the event.
Grace also thanked Mike Hoepper and Kathryn Grace for representing the Spitfire Project at short notice.
In addition to participating in The Elders Flight Day, the Spitfire Restoration Project had the opportunity to share their work with Johannesburg’s East Rand community via a radio interview. Ian Grace was interviewed by Sol from Ekuruhleni FM.
Some of the day’s highlights included Menno Parsons taking retired Lieutenant Piet Visser for a flight in his iconic P-51 Mustang, known as ‘Mustang Sally’, which he had flown himself during the Korean War – an incredible 70 years earlier.
The Flying Lions put on a spectacular display in their Puma Energy Harvards, while Menno Parsons took to the skies in his UH-1 Huey, and Captain Richardt Lovett’s L-39 dazzled the crowds.
The elderly were also treated to live music, with performances by the Education Africa All-Star Marimba Band, the Pretoria Girls High wind band, and the Parktown Girls High marimba band. The Jeppe Boys High bagpipe band played during the military veterans’ ceremony that followed the flights.
“What a memorable and life-changing experience,” concludes Grace, “The Project looks forward to attending similar events in the future.”