The usual tranquil lifestyle at The Coves Aviation Estate was interrupted on Saturday 6 April when the Carnival came to town. The Coves have hosted Fly-ins for the past nine years but never have they had one of this magnitude. The whole event had a distinct Airshow feel, having the professional team of Capital Sounds looking after the sound requirements added to the feel, after all Brian Emmenis is the voice of airshows in Southern Africa.
The Carnival got off to a very early start with the ballooning legend, Bill Harrop, getting airborne in one of his many balloons. Bill runs Bill Harrop’s Original Balloon Safaris one of the many balloon experiences in the Hartbeespoort Dam area , he spent the rest of day offering visitors tethered rides up and down in the balloon.
Visiting aircraft arrived from far and wide, unfortunately the inclement weather in other parts of the country prevented many pilots from joining the festivities, eighty seven aircraft had planned to attend but the final number that arrived was between fifty and sixty. Many visitors however opted to drive in and the day tuned out to be a great success.
One of the many highlights of the day was the arrival of not one but two ex SAAF Piaggio P166 Albatross’, it was surprising to see how little of the 900m runway they needed on landing and take-off. A 1944 Fairchild 24 Argus III was another one of the attention grabbers, this aircraft is probably in the best condition its ever been in its life this includes when it left the factory originally.
Glen Warden made a surprise appearance in the SAAF Museums de Havilland T55 Vampire, the SAAF Museum were hosting their monthly flying training day and Glenn decided to nip over and show off this wonderful machine from the early Jet era.
Everyone knew that this was no normal fly-in when Jason Beamish ferried Nigel Hopkins’ Extra 330Sc from Lanseria, that could only mean one thing, a Team X-terme display this did eventually happen but unfortunately it was pretty late and most of the visitors had already left. Nigel had to race back from Cape town where he had just won the SA National Rally Flying Championships.
Jason decided to make up for what he knew would be a late display by taking out his “brand new” new Extra 330Lx and put it through its paces, its not often he gets to perform a full aerobatic routine above his home. As always Jason’s display was spot on point, he had the crowd cheering as he came down the runway on knife edge. The Absolute Aviation sponsored Extra looked especially beautiful against the backdrop of the ancient Magaliesberg Mountains.
Ellis Levin, Arnie Meneghelli and Sean Thackwray arrived overhead to the delight of all present, they then went on to perform a three ship formation in the Puma Energy Flying Lions Harvards. Scully Levin could unfortunately not join but the three ship formation was as polished and precise as always.
Six skydivers were dropped from a Bell 407, but this was no ordinary parachute drop. Visitors could buy paper plates that were numbered, they could place their plates along the crowd line next to the runway and if one of the skydivers landed on a plate the owner of the plate won one of the fantastic prizes on offer, the included balloon flights, a sundowner cruise Hartbeespoort Dam for eight people and many other prizes.
The visiting and resident pilots Vans RV’s of all models were invited to join a formation and after a briefing nine of these beautiful “home built” aircraft took to the sky in a magnificent formation, led by Coves resident Larry Beamish in his RV7. The formation broke and each individual aircraft did a flypast over the runway.
The Goodyear Eagles were the next team to wow the crowds, Glen Warden and Johan von Solms were joined by Jason Beamish in a three ship formation, The Eagles are celebrating their tenth year of sponsorship by Goodyear Aviation Tyres, this must be some kind of record for any display team in South Africa.
As the shadows grew longer the visiting aircraft stated to leave, many of the promising to drive back for the evening celebrations at The Oaks once their aircraft were safely packed away in their hangars.
The residents of The Coves took to the skies and did a series of flypast showing off the wide variety of aircraft that have made this wonderful Estate their home. These included a Piper J3 Cub, a Yak 52, a Tiger-moth and a Cessna 170 to mention but a few.
The flypasts were concluded by an amazing display by JP Fourie form NAC in his Beechcraft Baron. JP is the man behind The Coves Carnival and deserves a very big thank you from everyone for and amazing day, I am already looking forward to next year’s Carnival.
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