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Diamonds And Dust: 58 - The Airstrip

...One weekend with nothing to do we checked out the dump and discovered an old Landrover which looked like we might get going. So we put in some oil, brake fluid and water into the radiator. We cleaned the plugs and carburettor and got some fuel into it. After an hour or so we got it going...

Malcolm Bertoni tells how a game which ended in near disaster resulted in a lot of hard work.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

All motor vehicles had to stay inside the mine, since it was a closed area. So when a motor vehicle came to the end of its useful life they used to drive it to designated dumps where it was parked and the keys thrown away. So there were a large number of old vehicles around.

Behind the hills at Affenrucken was a large dump where everything was left, including Landrovers, trucks and bakkies. One weekend with nothing to do we checked out the dump and discovered an old Landrover which looked like we might get going. So we put in some oil, brake fluid and water into the radiator. We cleaned the plugs and carburettor and got some fuel into it. After an hour or so we got it going, even though the engine ran a bit rough. Now what to do with the thing.

There was an airstrip about two or three kms north of Affenrucken. It may have been there for emergencies and was in quite good condition.

So we took about 20 or 30 old 44 gallon drums to the airstrip and made a circuit so that we could each race around and see who could do the fastest time.

Everything was going along well until Bokkie G_ took it too fast through the one corner and rolled the Landrover. After the dust had settled, we ran to see if Bokkie was dead or what. There was Bokkie calm as can be sitting on the flattened Landrover, without a scratch.

Bokkie was fine but the Landrover wasnít going anywhere. Security got to hear about it and came out and checked the airstrip, which you can imagine was pretty cut up from all the racing, the Landrover stuck in the middle and 44 gallon drums everywhere. The airstrip was of no use to aircraft that was for sure. The result of it was that security said that we had to clean up the airstrip or we would be given a written warning. I didnít really care either way, but since it was an emergency airstrip, thought that we should do the right thing and clean it up.

So we had to take the Landrover back to the dump, get rid of the 44 gallon drums and level the airstrip, filling in all the tracks, gouges and holes so that it was serviceable again. It took all of us a whole weekend to clean up the mess.
We had been pretty stupid actually as the airstrip was for emergency use and so had to be available at all times.

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