Objective of the flight: 

To produce high-resolution aerial photographs of burned areas in the Jonkershoek Valley as part of a study on the role of fire in rock weathering.

Pilot:  Mark Rule

Aircraft:  Piper Dakota

Beneficiary:  University of the Western Cape, Michael Grenfell

Report from the beneficiary, Michael Grenfell:

“The flight provided an aerial perspective on some of the rock-weathering hotspots that had been identified during fieldwork in March, and the photographs taken will allow us to verify low-resolution satellite images of vegetation type and surface moisture variation in the post-fire Jonkershoek landscape. Variation in vegetation type and surface moisture was shown through the recent field survey to be strongly correlated with fire-induced rock shattering. In particular, the presence of alien invasive woody species with high fuel potential could lead to accelerated rock deterioration and sediment production rates, which has implications for catchment management.

The photographs will contribute to spatial indices of landscape vegetation and surface moisture dynamics which will allow us to extrapolate the results of a small-scale field analysis of rock weathering rates to a larger landscape area. Finding will be published in a scientific journal. The impact of invasive woody vegetation on rock weathering rates, with implications for catchment management, will be measured.”

                         Rock weathering hotspot         invasive-woody-vegetation-encroaching-on-a-rock-debris-fan

Report from the pilot, Mark Rule:

“A clear day with minimal wind was my preference for this flight and fortunately the weather on the day was excellent, suitable for flying the length and width of the Jonkershoek valley as required. Michael’s main objective was to observe and photograph the northern slope of the valley, the area in which he is conducting his investigation. Although the northern side of the valley was largely in shade, Michael was happy that he had observed and photographed the necessary detail after we had flown up and down the valley twice and traversed it once.

From a flying perspective, I had contacted Cape Town ATC before the flight to let them know our intentions. On the day, I contacted Approach and was given a squawk for the flight. In the valley, the TMA’s lower limit is 4500ft for a smallish part of the western end of the valley and 7500ft for the middle and eastern section. This required me to keep an eye on the altimeter to avoid entering controlled airspace.

Thanks to the Bateleurs and the University of the Western Cape for giving me the opportunity to fly this mission.”