Utopia Airfield 29°48'42.20"S | 29°23'52.03"E
Utopia Airfield is one of South Africa's best fly-in destinations.
Set at the foothills of the Southern Berg close to Underberg resides this postcard-perfect airfield complete with runways that would be welcomed as fairways on most golf courses.
As a fly-in destination, it is far away enough to qualify as an adventure but conveniently located at just 150km NW of Durban, 380Km SE of Gauteng and 590 Km NE of PE.
As an unmanned airfield, call on 124.8 and 123.4 (glider frequency) five minutes out to check for traffic. Join overhead at 2000ft AGL and proceed with standard LH approach on all Runways 05/23 and 14/32.
Runway 14 (1270m long ) is an excellent approach over the large dam. There is a steep bank at the dam's edge, giving plenty of lift on approach with the threshold coming up fast. A gentle slip gets you in, or as a more gentile approach, aim towards the middle of the runway over the hump.
Runway 32 is not recommended due to the large trees on approach.
Runway 05 (1080m) is a straightforward LH approach. It is a long flat runway with a slight off-camber to the left.
Runway 23 is an LH approach with a slight incline at the threshold.
The facilities at the airfield are fantastic—ample parking for multiple aircraft fly-ins, camping facilities, and brand new ablutions with hot showers. There is also a clubhouse with an all-important bar and fireplace.
Accommodation consists of a rustic loft room plus two separate rooms.
Things to do
Besides the phenomenal flying, Utopia airfield also borders pristine trout dams, has hangers for rental, introductory glider flights and day trips up Sani pass.
As with all airfields, there are a few hazards worth mentioning.
The airfield enjoys a diverse aviation membership with RC and winch launch gliders active. Prior bookings are essential to make sure there are no events.
The airfield is at altitude and with frequent hot days in summer. Density altitude is a factor, and as a rule of thumb, reduce MTOW by 10% on hot days or wait for a colder time to depart.
The airfield enjoys lots of thermal activity, which is appreciated not only by the gliders but enjoyed by larger birds- be on the lookout at all times.
The Southern burg has many weather factors to consider when flying in the area. Often high winds pass over the top of the burg creating near calm wind at the field. Lenticular clouds will give this away but pay careful attention as this can make powerful downdrafts. The proximity of the peaks also creates ventures often doubling wind speeds.
A Member to accompany flyins.
For more information please visit www.dsc.org.za