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Atlas Angel visits Robertson : 28 to 29 November 2009

By Pam Russell, C1732

A year of firsts

It’s been a busy year for the DZ at Robertson. We’ve had several events and they’ve left most of us with good grounds for a hangover. My year looks like this: first night jump, first CRW, first Wingsuit jump. That’s a lot of time on the bench! And better than last year for sure (first broken leg).

But I think we’re done with firsts for the year now, having topped it all off with the first turbine jumps at Roberson and the first Atlas Angel jump for most of us.

We weren’t sure when the aircraft would be coming, as it required both Durban and Gauteng to have good weather before it could head our way –  and that hasn’t really been happening too much lately. But things came together as they needed to and so on Friday we got the good news – ZU-BSV was on its way.

Although it was not supposed to be an operating weekend, quite a few of us managed to get ourselves out to the DZ and start the waiting. We do remember how long it can take a beast designed for climbing, not cruising, to make it’s way across the whole country – thanks to Sky High who brought us their Porter more than once back in the day – but still we were there bright and early, just in case.

At something like 6am Erik let me know the plane had only made Welkom on Friday and so still had the bulk of the trip ahead. A bit later, we heard headwinds were a factor and the route was therefore not entirely direct, to build in an additional fuel stop (or should that be an alternate fuel stop?).

But in the end, I think the aircraft simply knows how to make an entrance. It finally arrived just as the sun was dropping towards the horizon at the end of a perfect (except for the lack of an aircraft) day. We had heard it on the radio and all went out to watch. As we all scanned the skies, the first person to spot it was Phoenix Vliegenthart – she may be only three, but she’s third generation and it shows!

As the speck grew closer, the excitement rose. Not only is the aircraft beautiful and oh so functional, there is also that Jet A1 smell! It didn’t take long before everyone was out on the apron admiring her and testing handles (of which there are plenty). Then it was off to braai and bed, ready for the morning.

Back left to right: Erik Vliegenthart, André d’Argent (seated in plane), Wessel de Bryn (standing)
Kneeling left to right: Nick Skipper, Michael Wooldridge; Nicholas Scalabrino, Lehan Bornman with Ria Moothilal in front

We all woke up expecting clouds and rain. Luckily the weather gods were smiling, and Murphy was having a day off. We didn’t have the numbers to exactly tire the Angel, but we did make a start. We ran in cycles of two loads at a time and everyone who was there got their fill of jumps.

So major thanks to Rob Taylor and the entire Atlas Angel crew! It was really great to host you on our DZ, and we look forward to many happy jumps together.