After the heavens opened over Polokwane with a low cloud base the closer we were to the airport the less chance I thought there would be of seeing an air show. The faithful parked their cars and endured the rain and mud as they moved from the parking areas to the entrance of the show apron.
For those of you who have not made the 2 hours 40 minute trek north or taken a flight to the Gateway Airport to the North of Polokwane is a rather large airfield and has two Runways and two massive aprons capable of handling 747 size aircraft.
Originally designed as a military base but now with a new terminal building and handling civilian air craft the airport cordoned off half the apron for use of the crowds to watch the air show and kept the other half for use as an active apron for the 3 commercial flights that use the airport on a Saturday and any other aircraft movements.
Anyway I digress
At 9:00 am there was a safety briefing and Neville Ferreira stood up and said he was very confident that the rain would pass and the show would be able to get under way at 11:00 am, at that point we had to close the doors to the meeting as the rain on the roof was so loud no one else could here each other in the meeting room due to the deluge of rain falling on the terminal building.
The show safety officer said it was a go unless there were any objections.
All credit to Neville for getting it spot on.
All credit to Rikus the safety boss for trusting Neville.
About half an hour after the meeting adjourned the rain stopped and by 10:30 am the sun was out albeit with some intermittent low cloud.
The whole show program had to be changed on the fly due the Let 29, Nigel Hopkins, the Torre Pits and the Puma Harvard’s not being able to get through due to the weather.
The show started off with Major Geoffrey Cooper flying the SAAF Saab Gripen fighter jet in a perfect display.
Neville Ferreira in his Slick 540 (still fresh from his attendance and placing 24th in the world for aerobatics) started low straight after take-off and moved up high and worked his way down again to the delight of the crowed.
Neville has definitely tightened up is routine since I last watched him fly and is a world class performer and very talented display pilot.
Jon-Mark Hill put little Annie an Antonov 2 through her paces Jon-Mark was granted a temporary show rating for the day. Jon-Mark put Annie through her paces very tightly and accurately and he did this on his own and not with a secondary pilot which has been the norm. Mark Hill you should be proud of Jon-Mark he flew a great display.
Little Annie is flown by aviation positive people to help use Aviation as a positive change for the betterment of the community. So after the air show flying little Annie flew lots of underprivileged children who have new been on an aircraft around Polokwane.
The flying that stood out the most came from the Paramount Flying School who use the SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 Aermacchi group. The aircraft designed as a military trainer.
The flying on was done by Devon Kruger, Leon Bath and Jan Mienie in a very tight and close formation. The display is slick and the precision of flying was excellent and beautiful to watch.
The Saps Pilatus Porter flew a great display from the moment it took off till the moment it stopped both being in about 100m of runway. This aircraft has great STOL characteristics and was expertly handled by pilots who flew the aircraft.
Neville flew the Yak 52 beautifully and he gracefully put the aircraft through her paces. Understand that this aircraft is not Slick or an Extra but she still puts on a great display of smooth fineness to wow the crowds.
The skydivers entertained the crowds jumping from Little Annie and the massive South African Flag is always awe-inspiring. The sky divers kept the crowds on their feet with their hot landings(some on their backsides over part of the tarmac) and there prefect lands.
There was a hall with a few displays for the crowds from Paramount, SAPS Air wing, Limpopo Tourism, a model flying club to show the youth that there is a future in aviation and one can build a life from aviation.
All and all anytime one can stand on an apron is better than sitting in a chair and a table even if you have a window in your office. To smell burnt Jet A1 as opposed to Channel on your colleagues or customers is way way better this is a privilege we should never take for granted.
There are a number of people we need to thank for this show Khanyisa for all you did in such a short time.
Rikus for organizing making sure everyone was safe and being flexible enough to allow us to do what we need to do.
For all the pilots who take their God given talent to awe us with your skill and professional conduct.
To Brian Emmenis and your team from Capital Sounds who work to set up and take down the whole audio systems. Who travel far and wide and always get the job done even under very wet conditions. Your skills as a presenter and entertainer keep the show going and the public transfixed onto what is going in the air. You are able to change and adapt as the routines do and most importantly you keep your work fun.