CALL US: +27 (0)33 386 3952

admin@pmbaeroclub.co.za

As told by Martin Hellberg, Club Treasurer  1981 - 2018

CLUB HISTORY

the 1930's

30 May 1938
44 persons from various walks of life met in the Supper Room in the City Hall, they resolved to form the PMB Aero Club. The chairman of the first meeting was Mr J H Farrant, chairman of the Publicity Association. Mr Percy Holt was available as the first flying instructor. 
In late 1938 the first Air Pageant coincided with Centenary celebrations of our city. To popularize flying all paid up members were offered a free flight in the Gypsy Moth.

14 June 1938
First committee meeting at which Mr B Henwood was elected the Chairman of the Club. 

the 1940's

August 1940
Club activities suspended in August 1940 B WW2. 

November 1945
15 November 1945 a further meeting held in the Supper Room to resuscitate the Club. 
Suggestions to establish a feeder airline service from PMB, but regulations limited scope to SAA who were not interested. 

1948
Shell fuel connection started some time prior to 1948. 

Below:

The Pmb Aero Club in the 1970's

the 1960's

1960

Swimming pool built by Hugh Stocks. 

 

May 1961

Ann Moggridge became first woman in PMB to fly solo under the watchful eye of a very youthful Colin Campbell. 

 

1969

Bought C172 ZS-FXX. 

the 1970's

1971

Bought C150 ZS-ILH

Bought C150 ZS-JBN 

the 1970's cont.
the 1980's

1980

The Club hosted the State President's Air Race. Brenda Howett earned her CPL. Years later, she became the first female pilot employed by SAA. 

 

1981

In October 1981, FXX had an accident and she was almost lost when it was found that the aircraft were significantly under-insured. Treasurer Harry Pratt and John Hoskins saved the day, and the fleet insurance was increased substantially. 

 

1982

Magnum Airlines introduced turbine powered aircraft, these were refueled from drums until we had satisfied Shell that we would sell at least 15 000 liters of jet fuel each month. Shell then provided the Airfield with an underground tank for Jet-A1. All quality control checks on fuel were done by either Mel or the secretary. They also received the tankers of fuel.

 

1983

1983 saw a special general meeting to approve the closing in of the pub area to satisfy the requirements of the Liquor Act to obtain a liquor licence.  It was agreed that the pub would be open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Noel Harper announced her resignation as Telstar editor, having faithfully penned the news for 8 years. 

1984

The liquor licence was granted in April. Comair commenced services into PMB on 1 February 1984 with their F27 Fokker Friendships. Fuel sales hit new records, selling over 1 million liters in a year for the first time. C172 PAC was written off in an accident in a hot and high incident. We received R17 000 from the underwriters. Consideration was given to replacing PAC with a Grob 109B motorized glider. After test flying that and a recent model C172, we chose the C172. The options for the C172 were a 1981 model, KVW for R48 000 or Louis Grove's 1983 model, KNI for R49 000. In December 1984 we took delivery of KVW. She is presently insured for R600 000. It was about this time that we trained our first Black student, Tembelani Sigcu. Sadly, some time after obtaining his Student Pilot Licence, he was killed in a car accident. 

the 1980's cont
the 1990's

1990
In March we purchased Louis Grove's C172, KNI, for R150 000, the same aircraft offered to us 6 years earlier for just R49 000. She is presently insured for R500 000. Fleet utilization was 3 000 hours for the year, a record which has not been seen again. 

 

1991
FXX was sold for R53 000. Club membership reached a record high of 408 members. Chairman Dave Campbell, Willem Young from Shell Aviation, two municipal officials and I met at the official’s request. They wanted to introduce a levy on fuel sales to boost the city coffers. Heather Sterling, besides maintaining the kitchen, took on the responsibility of improving and maintaining our grounds. 

 

1992
Honorary membership was bestowed on Dave Hocking after having served on the committee for 10 of the preceding 11 years and being very active in organizing flying competitions. Michele Cameron was elected onto the Committee, and is still serving the members today, 16 years later! Bill de Groot retired in October. Telstar was edited by Lynton Hall and Dave McCash. 

1993
Debbie du Toit was employed as bookkeeper and Kathy Mommen as secretary. Jimmy McGlinchey resigned and was followed by Hannes Louw who not only took over the fuel duties, but also took over the AMO and maintained our aircraft. Ed Szudrawski also followed Dave McCash as Telstar editor. The Council increased the fuel site rental from R750 p.a. to R515 per month. Shell refused to accept this 724% increase, and since then we have had to accept the expense to maintain the facility. 

1994
Wendy Montgomery took the position vacated by Kathy. Saturday pub nights ceased to exist. Ryan du Preez followed Ed Szudrawski as Telstar editor. We purchased Piper Arrow FWK for R135 000. Fleet hours hit an all-time low (at that time) of 1 317 hours. 

1995
8 nominations for 3 committee member positions at the AGM. Possibly the most contested AGM ever. Barry de Groot was one of the successful nominees, and subsequently served on the committee for 12 consecutive years. 

1996
A mobile tanker was provided by Shell to improve service delivery to turbine aircraft. Dave Solomon assumed editorship of Telstar. The kitchen closed temporarily on the transfer of Heather Sterling. Hayley Newman was appointed as bookkeeper when Debbie du Toit left PMB. Alistair McIntosh was elected onto the Committee, and is also still serving the members, 12 years later. 

1997
FWK was badly damaged in January after a failed take-off from the airport and was out of service for 10 months. Shortly after re commissioning, the nose-wheel collapsed and she was out of service for a further 5 months. The kitchen re-opened under the culinary skills of Robynne Louw. Hannes Louw resigned as refueling manager and was replaced by Frank Roxburgh. 

1998
Johnny Hill replaced Frank as refueling manager in May. We stopped paying landing fees from 1 May when I found that, in terms of our lease agreement, we were not required to pay them. Municipality threatened to cancel the Club lease if we did not close the sales facility from the kitchen, a service which had run almost continuously since 1972. 
The security gate between the Club and apron was erected, cutting off the previous unrestricted access to the apron. Sharon Blyth took over as bookkeeper in June when Haley emigrated to Australia. The Municipality increased the rental for the fuel site more than three-fold.


1999
The flight training facilities were upgraded to meet new regulatory requirements, with a new briefing room being established, and a Manual of Procedure compiled. The hangar doors became difficult to open and close. After a R22 000 quote to replace them, Steve Crutchley and Keith Mitchell spent just R2 000 on parts and cured the problem. C150 ZS-ILH was sold for R110 000 excl VAT.  Richard Franz replaced Dave Solomon as Telstar editor until his return to Zimbabwe, where after I assumed the mantle of editor. Established a web-site.  Lost the landing fee battle with the TLC and had to pay the arrears. 

the New Millenium

2000
Hannes Louw closed his AMO facility in January. Since then the Club has out-soured all its maintenance. The Municipality increased landing fees by 73% in an un procedural manner, and the second battle of the landing fees commenced. Sharon Blyth resigned when her family left PMB and Wendy Montgomery assumed the joint responsibilities of secretary and bookkeeper. Piper Arrow ZS-FWK was sold for R278 000 + VAT. 

2001
After 4 years of frustration with Municipal bureaucracy, we eventually received permission to erect the fuel hut, thereby improving our service to fuel customers. Julie de Klerk replaced Wendy Montgomery who left us to pursue a career in aviation. Brenda Howett, who learnt to fly at our club many years ago, became the first female captain in SAA. Michelle Steil assumed editorship of Telstar in August. 

2002
In January the Municipality gave us less than 2 weeks notice to cease using the kitchen to sell to the general public, failing which our lease would be terminated with immediate effect. We had no choice, and a service which had been reliably run with almost unbroken delivery for 30 years came to an abrupt end, never to re-surface. Also in January, we took delivery of a new 2 seater Jabiru, ZU-PAC, which Steve Crutchley maintained until he retired to Plettenberg Bay. Damian Budd assumed the role of editor of Telstar. The pub ceased to operate on Sunday nights. 

2003
Paid a settlement figure of R65 000 in respect of arrear landing fees. For 6 months we discounted the C172 rates by R100 per hour, about 15%, to test the response in utilization. 

2004
Albert Ndlovu retired from his position of fuel attendant after 30 years faithful service. Tiled the office and dining area after (almost) annual floods had permanently wrecked the flooring. 

2005
Rental for the fuel site was increased by 25% and back-dated 6 months! Purchased Jabiru J160 A Fatboy ZU-EAH for R342 000. 

2006
Sold ZU-PAC for R219 000. 

2007
Aircraft fleet utilization was 1 135 hours for the year, the lowest on record. After 7 years, the second dispute over landing fees was finally resolved. About R200 000 was spent on the refurbishment of JKK and KNI. Mel Barker retired after 35 years service and Dave Campbell was appointed CFI. 

2008
A change in Income Tax legislation makes the Club subject to Income Tax on fuel trading operations with effect from 1 January 2008.

Below:

The Pmb Aero Club viewed from the Apron, as it is now, on a rainy day

1971

Bought C150 ZS-ILH

Bought C150 ZS-JBN 

1972

Mel Barker was employed by the Club as instructor and wife Ria started serving meals from our kitchen facility. 

 

1973

Bought C172 ZS-PAC 

 

1975

CFI was John Hoskins who acted in a part-time capacity, and the second full-time instructor was Joe Trygg.  John lived under short final 16.

Shortly before dawn on New Year's Day 1976 he was awakened by one of our C150's doing some very low flying as it came to land. John leapt out of bed and rushed up to the airfield to find one of our instructors (not Mel) having just returned from a very festive New Year's Eve party at Virginia. John did his duty as CFI, and none of us ever saw that instructor again! 

 

1978

Bill de Groot took over the maintenance of the Club aircraft. 

1985

New regulations regarding aircraft maintenance facilities had been published. In order to continue to use the services of Bill de Groot, we had to upgrade many aspects to become an accredited AMO. Thanks mainly to Bill's efforts, our AMO license was granted in February. In June Heather resigned. Noel Evans joined us as a part-time instructor. Telstar was maintained by Heather Sterling. The pub was manned by 16 volunteers. Michael Najbicz made the first of a few donations, the return on which is used to fund prizes in spot landing competitions. Between 1985 and September 1992 he donated R3 500 to the Club. Our gross receipts exceeded R1mil for the first time. Fuel sales hit another new record, selling 1 079 000 liters. Unfortunately, with the demise of the Comair service, that was the last time we exceeded 1 million liters. The average today is about 700 000 liters per annum.

 

1986

In July we acquired a third C150, JKK, a 1976 model, for R21 280. In 2008 she is insured for R300 000!  The hangar was extended at a cost of R16 000 to accommodate 5 aircraft. 

1987

Paul Leaker followed Heather as Telstar editor. The minutes record that Heather was running the kitchen in 1987, but I'm not sure when she took over from Ria. 

 

1988

JBN's engine self-destructed, requiring expensive repairs. Fortunately Mel and student were on the runway when it happened. Signed up 70 new members. I think this is the highest in a single year. Dave and Paddy Hocking brought a friend to the pub one evening. A year later I married her. 

1989

The bar was extended in the direction of the pool, to its present design. Comair abandoned the PMB route and Magnum resumed services.George Talbot started part-time instruction at the Club.Rob Payne succeeded Paul Leaker as Telstar editor.

© Telani Lithgow for Pietermaritzburg Aero Club CAA/0029

  • Black Facebook Icon