Not so smooth sailing to Shotgun Mountain

Not so smooth sailing to Shotgun Mountain

Hey there, I'm Travis - here's my story

The endeavour of flight always intrigued me even since I could barely walk. The shapes of the P-51 Mustang and elegant design of the Supermarine Spitfire MKi became part of my vocabulary as a child. My psyche. 

I was to be a pilot by any means necessary. What is the price of a dream? It’s a difficult thing to quantify as one cannot consider their financial position an imposition. I started my professional life as a filmmaker in South Africa, a fulfilling craft, but it wasn’t aviation. The day came where I had to take the plunge. I would not have been able to forgive myself If I didn’t at least try. 

So it began, I entered training for my PPL at Accolade aviation in the Bronkhorstspruit area, 2017. Almost a two hour drive from where I lived. I was looking for the best price and this was the school. It took me a year of no sleep, decimated relationships and love. Pure, unadulterated passion. A drive that sat on the side of obsession.

Shotgun Mountain:

Victory. I could fly and it was time to start my Commercial pilot’s license - but along the way something very special happened. My love for flying and for film, merged. Seamlessly and in a way so organic you could call it providence.  Along with a friend, Thomas Marrow - we started Stick & Rudder, the first flying show in South Africa.

It’s sole purpose is to spread the good word of aviation and inspire all. General aviation is slowly dying and our hope is that we may reinvigorate the spirit. To reunite the community and to bring the culture into the future. A new era where all who might fly will fly. The year 2021 will see my commercial pilot’s license achieved and season 2 of stick & Rudder for all to see. 

South Africa has many laws that restrict pilots, preventing them from truly exploring. However, with rules, it’s important to understand them and how to get them to work for you. You can land anywhere in South Africa, as long as you have permission. Seeing that most of the open space around SA is tribal lands - the permission does not need to be written.

Shotgun mountain, an episode we filmed for our show - saw us fly down to Umkomaas. A wild coastal town on the eastern edge of the country. There in and amongst the rolling hills - was a mountain that we were to camp on. A green and rocky jewel nestled in sinuous shrills of mountains and valleys. Flat and perfect for short field landings.

The flight there was eventful to say the least. Whilst departing Johannesburg we flew into weather that turned severely against us. IMC. Terrifying. Fortunately flying with two pilots at least eased the workload as we planned through and around the horrendous weather. To this day - still one of the most stressful flights I have ever experienced. What made the flight even more strenuous is that the IMC conditions hit us in the beginning. We still had another 6 hours of flight ahead of us. We started the flight as young journeymen and landed on that mountain as old and not very bold bush wackers. We left that part out of the video for good reason.

It goes without saying - Plan, plan and plan some more. For every eventuality. To stay alert is to stay alive.

The history of the civilisation of man could very well be written as the journal of the alienation of man. As technology charges forward bringing the promise of utopia the few who live in-between the white spaces of words, long for a destiny where the skies belong to us, that your stick and rudder skills remain true.

And that the fuel of the flying soul is that of the blood of man.

Link to the episode:


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published