After two long years the day finally dawned African Aerospace and Defence (AAD) was back in town, this must be the most anticipated airshow on the South African aviation calendar. After a few last minute validation flights, which kept the early comers entertained the show got underway to a very slow start. By slow I mean the first display was a microlight display by the guys and girl from the MISASA Aerial Display (MAD) Team.
MISASA Aerial Display (MAD) Team
The pace then picked up very quickly with the “Sound of Freedom”, Craig “Shark” Leeson took to the morning skies with the BAE Hawk painted in the colours of the national flag, jets in the morning seem to wake the whole area up and I’m sure many people in Pretoria were persuaded to get out of bed and head to Waterkloof.
Neville Ferreira and Andrew Blackwood-Murry kept the fast pace of the show going with a beautifully synchronised display of hi-impact aerobatics, Neville has just secured a sponsorship form Penta Motor Group and this was his first public appearance in the Slick 540 with its new livery. Andrew in his Extra 300LC carries the name of Nashua very high.
South Africa then took centre stage with all the locally made aircraft passing the growing crowd in waves. In the lead was the two odd looking wonder machines from the Paramount group, AHRLAC or Advanced, Hi-performance, Reconnaissance, Light, Aircraft. Following them was a gaggle of Bat Hawk Aircraft, a Wagtail Gyrocopter, a Savanah and last but not least was a tight formation of two SA built GA fixed wings the Raven 500 and a Sling 4.
Proudly South African
Air Angels and ER24’s newly acquired BO-105LS wowed the crowd with a beautiful display of the helicopters agility; this helicopter was once part of the Lesotho Defence Force Air Wing and is now saving lives in South Africa.
Old airshow favourites the Tailifts Flying Cows were next up and as always they presented a flawless display of tight formation aerobatics. Scully Levin, Arnie Meneghelli, Sean Thackeray and Ellis Levin have been flying together for many years and seem to be getting better with every performance.
Tailift Flying Cows
The SAAF Museum Alouette III’s and an Alouette II showed off why these versatile helicopters have been used with great success in so many nations around the world, the pilots ended their display with a magnificent aerial ballet.
Alouette III's an II
After a quick check on the wind speed the mass para drop was cleared 40 jumpers from The Police Task Force, SANDF Special Forces and a contingent of Civilian Skydivers exited a C-130. Civilians don’t often get the opportunity to jump from such a majestic aircraft, judging by the smiles on their faces when they landed they really enjoyed the jump.
An East vs West flight then ensued, Ivan van der Schaar in his Boeing Stearman represented the West and Jon-Marc Hill joined by Helicopter legend Juba Joubert kept the East block flag flying high in the Antanov AN2.
Randolph Eyeware Boeing Stearman
In a brief break in the show I made my way up to the ExecuJet – Capital Sounds commentary and show control tower to say Hi to the team and was pleasantly surprised to see the massive crowd that had already arrived I later heard that capacity had been reached and the gates had to be briefly closed as the Safety plan only allowed for a maximum of 450000 people on the base at one time. Brian Emmenis and his team from Capital sounds once again did a sterling job of keep the very large crowd informed and entertained, laying out speakers to cover the entire venue must have been a massive task one can only imagine how many kilometres of cable must have been used.
View to the North
View to the South
ExecuJet – Capital Sounds Tower
After the break the Air Force Museum Mini War got underway, all the lovingly maintained aircraft form the SAAF Museum were set free to relive their heydays, all the aircraft were once used in an operational role in the Bush War. The Alouette III’s had “dummy” guns mounted in the door and together with the pyro techniques gave the spectators a taste of the SAAF’s history. The Puma played its part deploying and later collecting soldiers while they were all being covered by the missile armed Bosbok aircraft circling above. A Cessna 185 was used as a downed aircraft which led to the attack and extraction of the downed pilot.
SAAF Museum Mini War
The Silver Falcons, Cockpit ambassadors of the SAAF then took to the clearing skies with yet another polished display
The Silver Falcons
Glen Warden must have had a rush of nostalgia as he displayed the L-29 Dephin, Glen was a member of 2 Squadron when they were stationed at AFB Waterkloof at that time they were operating the formidable Mirage III
The only international participant then had the opportunity to impress the South African crowd, the Zimbabwe Airforce brought two K-8 Karakorum lead in fighters and a Casa 212, unfortunately they only displayed one of the K-8’s in the show the other aircraft were on Static display.
Just Love mission the operators of the AN-2 “Little Annie” decided to give the airshow faithful an energy boost. They flew low over the crowd line and commenced Operation “Mallow Drop”, they dropped hundreds of marshmallows with parachutes. Little Annie can fortunately fly very slowly so most of the treats landed exactly where they were intended to.
Operation “Mallow Drop”
AHRLAC’s experimental prototype XDM was the joined by its stable mate on its first public display PDM which is the first production aircraft. PDM and XDM have amassed over 500 flying hours between them.
AHRLAC PDM and XDM
Excitement started building as Rooivalk was spotted circling above the anticipation built even more when an Oryx, BK117, A109 and the mighty C-130 joined in the fun but for some reason the Mini War had to be called off and all the aircraft left the area. The Mini War is really a crowd favourite and every one hoped it would happen later in the day.
The disappointment was soon forgotten when Neville Ferreira started throwing his Slick 540 around the air so it resembled a Radio controlled model.
Penta Motor Group Slick 540
Every one that loves good old radial power was in for a treat when twelve T6 Harvards, The Harvard was the SAAF’s pilot maker for many years and the sound of the nine cylinder Pratt n Whitney brought tears to the eyes of all the retired SAAF pilots that cut their flying teeth on this machine. As the Museum and Harvard Club Harvard’s left the area the Puma Energy Flying Lions went straight into their display.
Puma Energy Flying Lions
The jet apron became very active with both a Hawk and a Gripen starting up, Craig Leeson was the first to get airborne in the national flag enshrouded Hawk, he went directly into his solo display. Craig does not only fly the Hawk but is called on to fly the Gripen from time to time.
While all eyes were on the Gripen taxiing out the Mighty Hurc from 28 Squadron made its appearance doing a series of steep turns and high speed flypasts. After a tactical landing and short field take-off everyone thought he had left only to surprise everyone with a pass from behind the crowed then pitching up and dropping flares, what a beautiful sight!!!!!
By this time the shadows were growing long and the airshow fans were making their way to the exits when the suddenly ran back to the display line as the Rooivalk made its appearance over the horizon. This battle proven attack helicopter had the people holding their breath as the cream of 16 Squadron put it through gravity defying manoeuvres. Unfortunately there was no flares deployed but the promise was made that it would happen the following day.
Just when the crowed started to make the long walk to the gate again Jeffery Cooper got airborne in the Gripen and once again people were running to the fences to catch a glimpse of SA’s frontline fighter in action. After a selection of high and low speed passes Maj Cooper performed his signature dump and burn. When he landed he was asked to taxi and park very close to the crowd, he received hero’s welcome as he shut the beast down.
Gripen Dump n Burn
The Puma Energy Flying Lions took to the dusky air to bid the Pretoria crowd farewell with a beautiful twilight display. Lights are added to the rear of the Harvard’s that light up the smoke trail as they keep in a very tight formation.
Puma Energy Flying Lions
The show closed off as it opened with a display by the M.A.D team this time they had added LED lights to their aircraft. They were joined by a PPG pilot also with LED’s on his propeller cage.
This brought to a close Day 1 of the two day show, I overheard many people saying they would definitely be back the following day for the second instalment.