The Light Flight Farm
I had a dream. When I moved to Cato Ridge from Botswana to start a microlight school, I had been living and working in the wilderness of Botswana and Zimbabwe for 10 years. For a year I ran Light Flight School out of the back of my bakkie at Cato Ridge Airfield. I then bought a hangar and built an office /lecture room on Cato Airfield.
I was actively looking for a property I could make a runway on and establish my flying school. I saw there was no long term future for Cato Ridge Airfield and that the greater Durban, Pietermaritzburg region needed a permanent base for light aircraft
After 3 years, in 1991, I found a farm. The buildings were ancient and in a state of ruin but there was ground suitable for a runway. The farm was bought and renamed Light Flight Farm.
Light Flight farm consists of 3 adjoining farms of 35 hectares, 25 hectares and 25 hectares, totalling just under 200 acres. What made it more attractive for me was that there were open natural Ngongoni grasslands and some indigenous bush, mainly along a stream with registered springs and 2 small dams. There is also an old Gum forest and a second forest of Cassarina trees which add to the biodiversity of the farm. The homestead is ancient with six bedrooms, two bathrooms and 45cm thick stone walls.
I was very excited when I discovered a population of endangered Oribi antelope as well as resident Duiker. There are also resident water mongoose, slender mongoose, large grey mongoose and even white tailed mongoose. I have also seen Civet cat and small spotted Genet on the farm.
Bird life is prolific on Light Flight. A recent highlight has been the successful breeding of Whalberg Eagles close to the homestead. This is the fourth consecutive year the eagles have bred successfully.
Light Flight is part of a 2000 hectare conservancy that drops 1000 foot down to the Mlazi River. This makes for a wide range of habitats from mist belt grasslands to lowveld with Marula trees. There are no fences ensuring a free flow of wildlife. There are even bushman paintings in an overhang near the river.
Light Flight Farm had been leased out for 20 years before acquisition for the airfield and was quite badly overgrazed. I decided that the 200 acres could benefit from a small herd of the then unfashionable indigenous Nguni cattle. This breed has since become much sought after mainly for the reasons that attracted me to them – that being their beauty (their colour variations are infinite), their hardiness with regard to the virulent tick problem in the area, their strong herd instinct and excellent mothering qualities. I started with 7 animals in 1991 and the herd has now grown to 37 beautiful animals.
Light Flight is 3.5 kilometres off the N3 highway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg on the tarred Georgedale Road. It is 20 minutes from Pietermaritzburg and 35 minutes from Durban.
Written by Geoff Dyer 2011