Establishing an EAA Chapter in Bethlehem

Karl J's picture

On 06 September, our EAA of SA National President Paul Lastrucci, EAA of SA Young Eagles Convener Dr Mike Brown and I flew to Bethlehem from Fly Inn in my Cessna 170 and stayed overnight. The purpose was to address members of the recently formed Bethlehem Aero Club on forming an EAA Chapter at their behest.

There was much chatter and hilarity during the flight, with Paul having been stationed for a while at the Piet se Gat infantry camp near Bethlehem. We relived much of the humorous side of our military days with sayings of the ‘korporaals’. Orders like ‘kyk voor jou, die army kyk agter jou!’ and flying over a farm owned by a Fanus... known as Foxtrot Anus, brought much mirth. Arriving shortly before sunset, my 170 was housed happily in Lucian Banitz’ UAV factory hangar. Lucian will be a founder member of the new Chapter.

After a quick cleansing beer or two, we set up our presentation in Izak Venter’s hangar. As arranged, I kicked off the proceedings by explaining what I perceive to be reasons for the ongoing success of our Chapter 322 Johannesburg. I then worked through an agenda as is used at 322 and which was adapted for Bethlehem.

Paul explained many of the legalities and the very basic requirements to be recognised as an official EAA of SA Chapter, such as the minimum number of members (10) who have to be paid up members of the Aero Club, regular structured meetings, recording of minutes, financial order and obligations and upholding the principles and aims of EAA with a safety awareness ethos. Paul, who is also Vice Chairman of Aero Club of SA, gave many examples of the work behind the scenes that is carried out to EAA’s benefit in conjunction with Aero Club.

This is done to ensure our freedom of the skies and to keep an eagle eye on any proposed legislation or restrictions that would adversely affect recreational aviation.
Dr Mike Brown did an excellent presentation on EAA Young Eagles. In South Africa, we no longer regard a simple flight in an aircraft as qualifying as a Young Eagles air experience unless the young person has first written and passed a basic test. This and other essential detail is available on with relevant study material that is free to any person between the ages of 14-18.

Our delegation was well received by the always hospitable ‘Bethlehemers’ who supplied us with an almost new luxury Kia SUV to get to and from the paid for B&B after they fed us.

There has been a great sequel to our expedition. Francois Marais, who is the very active PRO for the Bethlehem Aero Club, visited me at my home in JHB for a tut on Power Point and to obtain more detailed information on EAA. He informs me that the general reaction to forming an EAA Chapter in Bethlehem is a no-brainer with their correctly perceived advantages of being part of our organisation when one’s Chapter functions with good governance. There have been issues at Bethlehem where the Bethlehem Flying Club has now ceased to exist and the clubhouse has been taken over by the Bethlehem Aero Club which will include the soon to be inaugurated EAA Chapter 1500 Bethlehem. At the time of writing, the proposed Chairman will be Phillip Jacobs with Vice Chairman Izak van Zyl and Francois Marais as PRO. We wish you all every strength for your new Chapter and remind you that there is much expertise in our organisation and help is as close to hand as your phone. Remember to have the Big F... and F is for FUN!

We are prepared to travel to any centre in SA where an EAA Chapter might be established and also to assist any Chapter which might be floundering.