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Capturing Differently

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This is in order to share with you the arrival of our wee Rainbow Cheetah – registration Sierra Sierra Golf, a personalised ‘number plate’ crediting the primary contributors who made this event possible – Steve, Schatzie & Greg.

SSG has been in the making since October and on Monday 19th December myself and able airman Roland Stedman flew Kalula to Jo’burg and spent this week ‘hands on’ in the final stages of the building and completion. This was a great experience, being able to have involvement in the evolvement of such a well engineered and masterfully built little aeroplane. Most impressive is Rainbow Aircraft’s dedication to excellence, their complete commitment to their product and the professionalism with which the assembly plant is run. Good times were had with the Vladimir and Alexei Chechin, which included Alexei’s great hospitality and Vladimir’s comfort at having someone continually peering over his shoulder whilst he finished buil ding SSG.

On Friday 23rd at 11h00 and after a very thorough pre-flight SSG was taxied out by Vladimir to runway 21 at Springs airfield. Bristling with cameras and with my heart in my mouth we witnessed the awesome moment where SSG put space between the landing gear and the ground. She flew a treat and this gave justification to Vladimir’s confident nonchalance, where he had previously stated that he’s launched 60+ such new Cheetah projects and “they all fly – after all why shouldn’t they, they are designed and built to fly – right.” Giving further testimony to this statement was the fact that only the most minor tweaks were needed in the aircraft’s trimming, in order for Vladimir to sign her off.

Roly and I loaded her up, filled the fuel, emptied the bladders and at 12h30 we taxied out for the <500km ferry flight home. With 110hrs+ of Cheetah flying time and having just witnessed the building and the test flight, I was without a shred of anxiety as the throttle was drawn to full and we blasted off. After a courtesy orbit overhead, I pointed the sharp end towards Emoyeni and set power for ‘cruise climb’, this to gain height and lessen the impact of the Freestate midday thermals. The flight was fantastic, just below four eights of cloud, with the smooth purr of the 912S up front and recording average ground speeds of 160kph. Crossing the escarpment at FL100 Roly introduced some descent and this along with some tailwind had the ground speed occasionally touching 200kph.

The most exciting moment of all was making the approach radio call to Emoyeni Aviation Park at Camperdown, KZN, having Bryan Eaton respond and knowing that in a moment or two, a childhood dream would be realised – I was arriving home with a real aeroplane. Star supporter No.1 – my Schatzie, was there and to my great excitement, so too was all of my family and a bunch of friends. The presence of this reception committee instantly gave credence to my own excitement and pride. The warmth of support and the sharing of the occasion gave more lift than what even SSG generates.

The trip had taken exactly 3 hours from ‘gate to gate’ and we had a third of a tank remaining. Brilliant figures for any little aeroplane in this class. More impressive perhaps was the faultless delivery, satisfying me yet again that my intensive measuring and checking of all types available had resulted in great buyer satisfaction.

Now nestled in the hanger at Emoyeni is one little SSG – Rainbow Cheetah 912S and I look forward to your coming out there and sharing with myself and Schatzie, by taking a wee cruise of the patch. I guess it’ll be like popping around to see the newborn – just a whole lot more alluring.

Happy landings for 2006 and see you at Cloud Base .
Cheers for now,

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