In memoriam: Hendrik van Zyl

Our community of pilots has been saddened to hear of the passing of long-time instructor, Hendrik van Zyl on 24th June, 2021. Hannes Wagner has written the following tribute to one of the icons in the paragliding community.

“I met Hendrik in 2004, just after the acquisition of Dunnottar Paragliding School from Dalene Stiff. I had almost finished with my basic course and they finalised my basic training. We became friends and as I lived very close to Dunnottar, I remained close to the school community.

Hendrik and Carlos took me under their wing and as the hours were building up, I started to do tandem training on their glider. I got my tandem license and then worked towards getting my instructors rating. I worked at the school for about four years and continued with Hendrik after Carlos left. I never counted but a magnitude of students went through the school and became pilots: Derek Ayers, Steve Watt, the Holdcroft brothers and many others.

I did hundreds of tandems for the school and for Hendrik: He was an extremely good winch driver and I felt confident trusting him with my life.

  • He was softly spoken, polite and even-tempered.
  • He was very active and participated in several Comrades races, the Xberg, cycle races and marathons.
  • Aviation was in his blood, he grew up and was very active in the Dunnottar Flying School with the Harvard planes.
  • He was adventurous and mischievous. Rumour has it that he once flew a microlight aircraft from a public road.
  • His paragliding insight and knowledge was astounding – he taught me so much, from un-tangling glider lines to other technical detail.
  • He was very active in our Dunnottar club, Flytribe.
  • Although he was not very active on the competition side of the sport he was an extremely
    good free flying, as well as PPG pilot

An extremely good friend, father and companion to his long-time partner, Belinda.
Gone way too soon – we will sorely miss him, especially the Fly-Tribers.

Hannes Wagner