He was entered into the first batch of pilots in the SAAF to be converted to Vampires, the first Jet planes ever to fly for the SAAF. He told the story of how he watched as on their first solo flight the pupil who took off in front of him crashed, killing himself in a fire ball of black smoke and flames.
Neels volunteered for the Korean War to fly Sabre jets and Mustangs. This war ended in 1953 on the eve of Neels' departure for Korea. After the war, Neels resigned from the SAAF and became an accountant in the Groblersdal district and held this post for many years and did the books for the local community.
Apparently he was just as good an accountant as he ever was a pilot. But his love for flying aeroplanes was what really made him tick and one day Neels and one of his mates bought all the Tiger Moths from the SAAF which were put up for auction. They divided the Tigers between them and Neels's share of the Tigers were moved to Groblersdal, the balance going to a property near the Hartebeespoort Dam.
In the early 1960's one of the first things Neels did at Groblersdal was to call a few guys together and told them that they must build an airfield and start a Flying Club. So they did just that. Neels became the first chairman with H.U.B. Potgieter as instructor of the Groblersdal Flying Club. H.U.B. Potgieter was an extraordinary man in his own right, reaching the rank of General in the SADF. Hub as he was known to his friends was horrified at the news of Kobus de Villiers death in a flying accident in his Cessna 210 near Dennilton one night returning after watching a rugby match at Loftes. Kobus was Hubs first pupil to qualify and now the Groblersdal flying club carries his name.
The next moment, out of the blue, Neels announced to the new flying club a forthcoming air show he had advertised in all the newspapers! Everybody, including the municipality was up in arms because there was not even a trace of an airfield. They involved Jan Pretorius who had a farm on the south-western side of the present airfield. After getting the green light from the municipality, Jan's tractors amongst other farmers started with bush clearing where the airfield stands today.
When the first aeroplanes arrived for the air show, the tractors were still busy bush clearing and shaping the airstrip and Neels ... he was doing his thing over the new "aerodrome" with his Tiger Moth to the spectators delight. Apparently the air show was a huge success.