14 May 2012
EP Herald, 24 Sep 2004
100 years ago by Ivor MARKMAN
News from week ending September 24, 1904
A farmer named VAN NIEKERK, of "Vygeboomspoort", in the Waterberg district, succeeded last week in destroying a huge *tiger, which has for some time been terrorising the surrounding farms.
It appears that this gentleman, while out searching for some stray mules, located the brute by means of a field-glass. He immediately proceeded home and armed himself with a double-barrelled shotgun - one which occasionally misses fire, and returned in quest of his "bag".
The tiger happened to be feasting on a buck, which he had secured for his evening meal, and seemed to resent the hunter's sudden appearance on the scene by giving a fierce growl and throwing himself in a position of attack. Mr. VAN NIEKERK did not wait for any further developments, but emptied the two barrels of "loopers" into the animal's hide, and succeeded in inflicting a few serious wounds, which prevented it from making an immediate attack, and allowing VAN NIEKERK time to reload.
It was not until after the sixth shot that death ensued, and Mr. VAN NIEKERK was able to rouse the camp with the good news. Needless to say the slayer was looked upon as the hero of the day.
*As tigers are not found in Africa we assume it was a leopard.
The flying VETCH family of Grahamstown is about to spawn a third-generation pilot now that Murray, only son of Mr. and Mrs. Geoff VETCH, has got three-quarters of the way by taking flying as part of his post-matric curriculum at St. Andrew's. As far as is known, Murray is the only boy to have taken flying as a post-matric course. Certainly he has broken new ground as far as St.Andrew's is concerned.
Flying "runs" in the family, it seems. It was three generations ago that Murray's grandfather, Major Bill VETCH, seconded from the Ghurkas to the Royal Air Force, learned to fly in Egypt in 1923. He never went back to the army. Instead, he became, first a civilian pilot, then an instructor. He and his wife, Joan, were married in Bombay. He took her on a hedge-hopping honeymoon around India in a Gypsy Moth. Soon afterwards, she too was flying, instructed by her husband.
By 1938, the VETCHs were in Malaya, where Major VETCH was chief flying instructor in Penang. Geoff was a 10-month-old baby when he and his mother "were chased out by the Japanese," Mrs. VETCH said from Cape Town, where she is staying with a daughter, Mrs. Jocelyn RUSCONI. Bill, by that time, was in the Air Reserve as commanding officer in Sumatra. The family was reunited in India after the fall of Singapore. After a three-year tour of duty with the RAF, Major VETCH was demobbed and they made for South Africa in 1948, with their three children.
Geoff now takes up the story. He and his brother Nigel qualified under Major Paul PLUMSTEAD in 1969. Nigel, now living in Britain, flew in the South African championships a couple of times, attaining high placings in pure flying tests and overall flying. Geoff eventually went to Grand Central Aviation College and studied theory for a commercial pilots' licence. He qualified with an instrument rating.
Murray's mother Aldyth, also took to the air and went solo before she "retired" to pursue other interests. Murray was first air-borne when he was six. He has flown many times with his father since. Now, after a five-week intensive course at Grand Central, he, too has written, and passed six of the required eight examinations in aircraft, technical and general, air law, meteorology, navigation, general and navigation plotting and flight planning. He went solo in mid-April and hopes to gain his commercial pilot's licence next year. He must complete a further 165 flying hours. He is confident he will achieve this between studying for a BCom, which he ill start at Rhodes University in February. He is hoping eventually to find the sort of work in which flying will play a big part.
Murray is by no means single-minded about his flying, though. Like his father, he plays cricket and hockey and also enjoys water-sports, water-skiing and wind-surfing in particular.