The day finally arrived, the most awaited show of the year. Air force Base hosted the Langebaanweg Airshow 2017 on the 9th December. Langebaanweg is situated on South Africa’s West Coast, and is home to the Central Flying School and the Silver Falcons Aerobatic team. The Falcons recently celebrated their 50th Anniversary, which saw past members of the team present and had the opportunity to watch the current team display in front of them. The pressure was on!
Upon our arrival to the base at 6h00 on Saturday, the wind was already howling and during the course of the day reached speeds in excess of 65km an hour. This made flying conditions really tricky, nevertheless the show went on. The Air boss for the show was none other than Col Keith Fryer and Ramp director Col Keith Andrews supported by the professional air traffic controllers kept the show running prompt and smoothly.
The show opened by the SAAF fire and rescue services and a heritage fly past of the Puma Flying Lions Harvard's followed by the single Impala and finally the Silver Falcons Aerobatic team, all representing the past to present silver falcon aircraft.
The flying lions then continued into their display which brought back many memories for the older pilots and ground crew, who developed a close bond with the Harvard before it was replaced by the Pilatus Pc7mkII.
The Raptors RV formation team led by Pierre Gouws showed off their tight aerobatics skills in the extremely windy conditions followed Team extreme with high energy formation aerobatics flown by Nigel Hopkins, Mark Sampson, Mark Hensman and Jason Beamish.
Shaun Constable put the Pilatus Pc7mkII through its paces, showing what “Pupes” are put through during aerobatic manoeuvre training.He was then joined by fifteen other PC7MkII's and formed up in a "50" to honour the fifty years of the Silver Falcons.
SAAF Helicopters present were an Oryx and A109, a 16 Squadron Rooivalk displayed its fighting ability moving around its 20mm Cannon. Unfortunately there was no Lynx display but it was made up by its friendly roommate the C47TP flown by ex-Silver Falcon leader Major Scott Ternent.
28 Squadron, who flew in from AFB Waterkloof in the morning for the show, flew their low tight display due to the strong winds and very dry terrain the C130BZ was unable to drop its flares.
Jets present on the day,2 squadrons Major Geoffrey Copper once again put the Gripen through its paces and later in the day Rehan Venter broke the sound barrier at 34 000 feet.
The 85 combat flying school BAE Hawk was displayed professionally by Lt Col Craig Lesson who is the OC of 85 Combat Flying School at AFB Makhado in the Limpopo Province.
Glen Warden in the L39 'ZUTEE' and Mike Weingartz, himself a former Silver Falcon No3, in the Impala MKI made up the Civilian jets on display.
The Nashua Extra 300 flown by Andrew Blackwood-Murray and the EC145 operated by AMS provided excellent photo opportunities for the public.
The Mango 737 flanked by the Silver Falcons got the large crowd line on their feet. Each display was brilliantly commented by Brian Emmenis, Leon Du Plessis and Keith Fryer, the crew at Capital Sounds made sure the public was well informed with speaker’s right down the everlasting taxiway!
Mango 737 and the Silver Falcons
The day came to an end with one final display by the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team, this was one last display for Major Mark Gentles who was leaving the team where he served as Leader for the last 2 years, also interesting he was the most capped Falcon leader. Team 81 has done the Airforce proud.
The Organizers out did themselves to make a lot of SAAF assets available for the show making the trip down to Cape Town was well worth it. Well done to Brig Gen Matanda and his team and thank you for the amazing hospitality.
Video by Ryno Potgieter
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