Johan Pieters and his fellow organisers couldn’t have custom ordered better weather for this year’s airshow, the skies were perfectly blue with not a cloud in sight and no wind to mention. The anticipation in the small KZN town had been building since the very successful shows the last two years and this being the only airshow in the province ensured visitors from far and wide.
The South African Airforce had arrived in full force bringing an Oryx helicopter, which took children for flips throughout the day, an Agusta A109 and the newly formed Silver Falcons Team #82.
The show was kicked off by a display of Skydiving skill by the SAAF’s Golden Eagles Skydiving team sporting their new canopies in the colours of the National Flag as well as the older Eagle canopies. The Jumpers were ferried to altitude in a SAAF Oryx.
Glen Warden got the show off to a very fast start with an amazing display in the Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin, Glen is a retired SAAF fast jet pilot and now ply’s his trade at Comair BA as a senior B737-800 Captain.
Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin
Yet another Comair BA pilot, Ivan van der Schaar, was next to take to the beautiful blue sky. Ivan flew his 1940’s Randolph Eyewear Boeing Stearman performing a stunning sequence in this graceful old aircraft.
It was an absolute treat to see the Silver Falcons back in the air at almost full compliment. Congratulations to Major Omphile “Biggy” Mutloaneall the new leader and all the new members, we hope to see the full five ship formation up where you belong soon.
Neville Ferreira in his newly painted Slick 540 had the growing crowd gasping with a magnificent display of Hi-energy aerobatics. Neville is businessman from Pretoria and was recently invited to test fly a brand new aerobatic aircraft in Budapest.
In a very rear treat Derick “Pops” Hopkins and John “Fluffy” Mc Kerchar brought a taste of the “Golden Age of Flying” to the Newcastle Locals, with a magnificent display in Menno Parsons’ DC3 Dakota. Between Derek, a retired Mechanical Engineer and Corporate Pilot, and Fluffy, a Retired SAA Captain, there was over 35000 flying hours experience in the cockpit.
Next up was the SAAF’s 15 Squadron in an Agusta A109, 15 Squadron has been a part of the fabric of Durban life since 1981 and has regularly featured in the news due to great number of high-profile humanitarian and rescue helicopter missions it has completed.
Enter Team X-treme, Nigel Hopkins and Mark “Bugs” Hensman kept the spectators on their feet and holding their collective breath with an intense tight formation display, from the opposing take-off to the massive heart in the sky. Nigel in his Porsche Extra 330SC and Mark in a Sbach sponsored by Bose Aviation and Garmin are two members of the Four Ship Team X-Treme unfortunately Sammy and Jason could not make the show due to work and aircraft availability.
Patrick Davidson, South Africa’s only Red Bull Air Race Challenger Series competitor, showed the skill that earned him an invite to compete in the most popular flying competition in the world. Patrick was flying a Sbach which is very similar to the Edge that he uses in the Red Bull Air Racing.
The Air above Newcastle was then filled with the sound of Pratt & Whitney Radial motors, Scully Levin, Arnie Meneghelli, Ellis Levin and Sean Thackwray make up the Puma Energy Flying Lions display team. The Harvard team have been entreating crowds at airshows since 1999 and judging from there performance we’ll be seeing them for many years to come.
Puma Energy Flying Lions
Another veteran team the Goodyear Eagles were the next to grace the sky. This Pitts Special team must be the longest standing single sponsorship in SA Airshow history – Thanks Goodyear. The team of Glen Warden, Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish always fly a wonderful display.
Silver Falcons team #82 performed their second display , the team are flying exceptionally well considering how young the team is.
Nigel Hopkins performed a solo display in his Extra 330SC, Extras have won the world unlimited aerobatics competition four times in the last five years. Patrick Davidson took to the air in his second display for the day.
Derek and Fluffy then took off with the Dakota and were joined by Nigel and Bugs for a flypast, this is something not often seen at any airshow.
The Agusta then did a second display followed by the mighty Gripen from 2 Squadron, the Gripen to huge applause from the crowd “people will always love a sharpnose Jet”. The Gripen couldn’t stick around as fuel was limited he left after a few passes.
Glen Warden kept the Jet theme going with another stunning display in the East Block L-29
Glen Warden Neville Ferreira then took on a Mercedes from Stucky Motors in a high speed race along the runway, Neville was beat pretty convincingly by the very powerful Merc.
Matthew Zwolinski didn’t get to do his first display in the morning but had the slight technical snag sorted out and got airborne. Matt really displays the abilities of the gyro very well.
Ivan van der Schaar closed a very successful show with yet another brilliant display in his Boeing Stearman.
Ivan van der Schaar
To everyone involved “Well Done” the show was amazing .Pete Graham, the fight director for the day, you did an amazing job keeping the show flowing except for the minor SAPS hiccup. Johan Pieters and team thank you for the wonderful hospitality. Brian Emmenis and the Guys from Capital Sounds you just reaffirmed that no airshow is complete without your brilliant commentary. Can’t wait to see you all next year again.
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