Left Swartkop AFB this morning after getting a very friendly goodbye from the military staff there. They seemed so fond of my DH60 that I could have left her in good hands there, but would probably never get her back! It was a short flight to Orient, where I met up with Mark from Gaborone in his excellent Husky aeroplane and his passenger Kent Nilsson, Sweden’s honorary consul in Gaborone. The Aircraft Factory brothers showed up too, with 2-seater and 4-seater Sling planes that have been around the world several times. (Photo above: Mariska van den Brink)
A journalist and a photographer from the local Sunday Times appeared as well, so we had a nice write-up in the paper and many photos taken, both on the ground and air-to-air as well.
The next flight lasted about 3 hours and was fairly direct to Kimberley, as in the days of Gösta Andrée. It was easy flying initially, with a tailwind that unfortunately turned into a headwind at the end. Lots of turbulence once again as the day progressed and approached midday…as I approached Kimberley I saw some huge pits in the ground left from mining for diamonds. Back in the day, this was a very wealthy town, which actually got electricity before London! Now the diamond industry is almost gone and is not really a big influence here anymore. There are probably more diamonds in the ground but there are restrictions and other problems in getting started with prospecting these areas…
I had a wonderful afternoon with my friends, as Brett Warren, and his wife Kate, Mark, our consul Kent and I went out to a historic battle site from 1899 and the Boer War – Magersfontein. At this site, a unit of 100 Scandinavians called the Boer Vikings set out to defend a strategic hill, and because the signal to retreat did not reach the soldiers in time, they dug in to take on the British Highland Brigade, including Black Watch, Seaforths, Argylls and the Highland Light Infantry. They fought to the last man and the Boer eventually won this battle. The Boer commander claimed that the victory was the work of God – and the fact that the Scandinavians had held that hill.
We looked at the fine granite monument and went out to the hill, an area just slightly higher than the plain around it. Gösta Andrée also visited this monument in 1929. With us, we had a Swedish flag and Absolut Vodka, Swedish caviar and crispbread, boiled eggs and pickled herring. Our picnic there was a truly Swedish salute to the wounded and fallen. I think our Scandinavian fighting brethren perhaps joined us in spirit!
Dinner with friends, including staff from the Grundfos water pump company, made the evening very pleasant. Once again I had an eager audience listening to me I while I described Cape to Cape and my thoughts on flying open-cockpit in Africa…always a pleasure and I am so grateful to my hosts for their hospitality and support.
I have to tell you all more about that when I come home and can go through all the wonderful stories, experiences and material I’ve gathered during this adventure. Let’s hope I can put together a book in the future! Anyone interested in an autographed copy…?