A seasoned pilot has his wings back after the court allowed him to take to the skies again after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suspended his licence for six months after he flew too close to the ground to encourage people on the landing strip to move away.

The Mercury reports David Mandel turned to the Eastern Cape High Court (Gqeberha) for an urgent order allowing him to fly again, pending a review application against the CAA’s decision.

Mandel is said to be an experienced pilot, holding a private pilot’s licence for about 40 years, with an unblemished flying record.

In September last year he was flying a trainer aircraft when he observed people lying on a runway near Knysna. He undertook a pass at 1 000 feet above ground level and dipped his wings to encourage them to clear.

When they failed to do so he returned to Plettenberg Bay.

Mandel’s conduct was viewed by CAA officials and escalated to its enforcement unit as a violation of the civil aviation regulations.

His licence was suspended for six months starting from April until October this year.

Mandel told the court that he would be prejudiced given that he used his aircraft for business and personal travel. He said waiting for a further appeal against the decision would cause him severe prejudice given that it was unlikely that the appeal would be resolved within the period of suspension.

The court noted that this would cause him embarrassment in the flying community.

Mandel complained that the decision was made without affording him a reasonable opportunity to make representations or to appear in person to explain himself.

The CAA maintained that Mandel acted in contravention of the regulations.

Judge Avinash Govindjee said Mandel had established a well-grounded apprehension of irreparable harm if the interim relief was not granted – especially if his suspension was later overturned on review.

Full report in The Mercury