Rand Airshow promised to be something special this year and as always it didn’t fail to deliver, culpable electricity could be felt from the time the gates opened to long ques of people braving the icy cold. Spectators quickly filled Rand airports unique 270° crowd line waiting in anticipation for the start of the show while Brian Emmenis from Capital Sounds “The Voice of Airshows” fueled the excitement.
Proceedings were kicked off with a cavalcade of Harley Davidson motorcycles followed closely by the biggest collection of Mustangs I have ever seen.
At exactly 10:00 General Brian Stableford took to the air in john Illsley's classic 2 cylinder 40hp Aeronca C3, this is currently the oldest flying aircraft in South Africa.
The Aeronca had barely landed and the familiar sound of a Russian radial rumbled down the runway, Little Annie one of only three flying Antanov 2’s in South Africa, got airborne with a load of Skydivers. These guys must have frozen on the decent as the ground temperatures were no more than 4° and Johannesburg Radar cleared them to drop at 9500ft.
No sooner had the last skydiver safely set foot on Terra firma and Rand airport was rock with the wonderful sound of fourteen Pratt and Whitney Radial engines. Ten Harvards were joined by Springbok Classic Air’s DC3 and Beech 18. After a mass take-off the formation led by Pierre Gouws did a magnificent fly past which definitely caused goose bumps to any aviation enthusiast.
The four ship Puma Energy Flying Lions remained airborne as the rest of the formation landed and immediately started with their display. Scully Levin, Arnie Meneghelli, Eliis Levin and Sean Thackwray continue to wow the crowds in these beautiful post war machines.
Menno Parsons made a very welcome return to Airshows in his pristine P51 Mustang “Mustang Sally”, Mustang Sally is due for some serious maintenance and will probably not be seen for a while, Menno saved the last few pre maintenance hours especially for Rand Airshow.
Henley Air treated all the rotorwing wing fans to a wonderful display of four Bell 222's and one Airbus Helicopters Dolphin, sound of the massive rotors is not only heard but felt deep in ones stomach.
Barrie Eeles and Elton Bondi made full use of Rand’s 90° display line in a two ship formation with a difference. Barrie in his brand new Extra 330sc and Elton in his Extra 300 flew a wonderfully synchronised display perpendicular to one another. The crowd were treated to a “hot mike” and by the sounds of their voices they were really having fun.
From Hi-Impact aerobatics to the graceful serenity of the De Havilland Dragon Rapide and Chipmunk, Flippie Vermeulen flew the Dragon Rapide up from Queenstown especially for the Rand Airshow . Flippie was joined by Jason Beamish.
Thanks to the brilliant coordination by "Air Boss" Francios 'Hosepipe' Hanekom there was never a dull moment in the program.
Matthew Zalewski displayed the latest Titanium Auto Gyro Explorer which is the one and only of it's kind on the African Continent, after seeing what he managed to do with this versatile machine fixed-wing pilots suddenly gained new respect for these aircraft.
Familiar favourites the Goodyear Eagles were next up, Glen Waerden, Nigel Hopkins and Johan von Solms kept the growing crowed holding their collective breath as the performed close quarters aerobatic manoeuvres.
Little Annie once again took to the skies, this time Mark Hill joined by his son Jon-Mark put her through her paces with a series of steep turns and wing-overs.
Pierre Gouws and Larry Beamish thrilled all the jet fans with a display flown with military precision in the duo of Aero Vodochody L39 Albatoss’, Larry is currently a corporate pilot and recently reached 20000 hours, Pierre is a captain at SAA and is not far behind Larry hour wise.
Nigel Hopkins, the current national unlimited aerobatic Champion and World Champion hopeful. filled the afternoon sky with smoke trails as he threw his Porsche and Cirrus sponsored Extra 330sc around. Nigel will be competing in the World Championship in Malelane next month.
Former South African Airforce fighter pilot Glen Warden and now senior captain at Comair took to the sky with the Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin, This particular Jet was one of the Sasol Tiger aerobatic teams, Denis Spence bought it after it was not used for many years.
The Torre Pitts Special team were next up Scully, Arnie, Ellis and Sean once again prove why they are regarded as one of the best formation aerobatic teams in the country.
Once again the sound of Radials filled the sky, Flippie Vermeulen in the Beech 18 joined up with Pierre Gouws in what is probably the most beautiful Harvard in the country.
Neville Ferreira the current SAC Chairman let loose in his Slick 540 performing a sequence of note including many gyroscopic manoeuvres. Neville will also be competing in the upcoming world championships.
Nigel Hopkins was determined not to be outdone by a helicopter , he proved the he can also hover in his very powerful Extra 330sc Menno Parsons joined him in his Bell 407just to make 100% sure he was really hovering.
Mark Hensman and Pierre Gouws joined by the father and son duo of Larry and Jason Beamish fly a thrilling display in two RV 7’s with mark and Jason in a MX2 and Extra 300, they broke off into two 2 ship formations and kept the sky very busy.
As the shadows grew longer and it started to cool down the action just heated up with Team Extreme, this three ship formation fly together so much that they all seem to think on exactly the same wavelength. Nigel, Mark and Jason are all members of a Chinese aerobatic team.
Gary Whitecross delivered a masterful display of silent wonder in his Pilatus B4 glider, Gary was towed into the Germiston sky by Derek Hopkins in a Lombada touring motor glider. Gary has flown everything from fast jets to helicopters but still loves gliding.
After many years in mothballs Ellis Levin and Arnie Meneghelli decided to get the two Extra 300's back in the sky, they delivered a a brilliant display.
The show was closed out by Larry Beamish in an Embraer EMB 120, this aircraft is opperated by Swift Flight based at Lanseria.
Congratulations to all concerned on a very well run and entertaing Airshow, see you in 2018 for yet another Grand Rand Airshow.
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