I had the unique experience of spending over 90 minutes in a Bell 206L helicopter in South Africa on a journey that surveyed several coal mines.
Bell 206L Helicopter From Pretoria To Middelberg, South Africa
A ministry supporter who has become a friend has a remarkable life story. I won’t tell it here, at least not now, but it is the sort of rags-to-riches story that showcases both the benefits of hard work and perseverance and also the necessity of being at the right place at the right time (what I call Providence and others may call luck).
He owns a vast coal mining operation in South Africa and invited me and my colleagues on a helicopter journey to help us understand how coal is mined and to see his operations up close.
We used a Bell 206L helicopter for the journey, which managed to comfortably fit the pilot plus five passengers onboard. Our journey took us over several coal mines, former coal mines (there is a right way and a very wrong way to decommission coal mines), and power plants before we stopped at one of his mines for a site tour.
After, we stopped for a delicious lunch in Middelberg before heading back to Kitty Hawk Aerodrome (IACO code FAKT) east of Pretoria in the Boschkop area. The airport featured a nice restaurant and bar with a patio overlooking the runway.
Confession: my stomach became quite upset on the 45-minute flight to Middelberg. It’s really humbling to see me age in this way: I can’t tolerate roller coasters any longer and now helicopters? I was quite nauseous by the time we landed, perhaps because I was taking so many pictures out the window. Thankfully, I just stared straight ahead for the next two legs and managed to avoid the motion sickness coming back. The air vents also helped.
If you want to learn more about how coal is mined, you can check out the short video below:
It was a fun and educational day.
Can you tell us a little more about the soft product?
Caviar followed by lobster and then chateaubriand followed by cordials and ice cream sundae service.
Unfortunately, in the USA, because of the bankruptcy laws, the tax payers are often left paying for reclamation of coal mines when companies file bankruptcy before completing the reclamation.
Interesting visit. You are spot on in pointing out the importance of decommissioning of these mines properly. There are several old strip mines in Maryland that were abandoned and left as a dangerous mess.
As to the motion sickness, you are not getting old! Just remember to look to the horizon every few minutes and reset.
Flew the U.S. Army version of that in Vietnam. The scenery was great but the danger of lead poisoning was ever present. RSA is almost completely dependent on coal fired power plants, despite their CO2 output, but they don’t have enough power plants to even meet current demand plus corruption siphons off money needed for increased energy production. Ergo, lots of power blackouts.
You didn’t taste your food a second time during the trip?