Last week saw the first, and most definitely not the last, instalment of AERO South Africa based on the model developed by Messe Friedrichshafen over forty years of hosting, the largest General Aviation trade show in Europe, AERO Friedrichshafen. With more than 600 exhibitors from 35 nations, 33,000 visitors and 600 journalists from all over the world, the AERO Friedrichshafen is the world's most important annual meeting place for the community. AERO South Africa, yet much smaller, achieved exactly the desired outcome.
AERO South Africa got underway at Wonderboom Airport on Thursday 4 July and from the outset it was obviously not just another show. A very diverse range of exhibitors were ready to welcome the aviation community and show off their products face to face. Shane Somerville from Centaury Avionics mentioned how great it was to finally meet many of his long standing clients which in the past he only got to speak to on the phone or via email.
The Airplane Factory’s Kim Owen mentioned that there weren’t lots of feet but the feet that were there were quality feet with a genuine interest in aviation. From that perspective I am very happy that the expo wasn’t coupled to a public airshow, the airshow going crowd are not necessarily the people one needs to cater for at an expo of this nature.
It was encouraging to see some of the “big players” on the international stage joining the expo in their own right and not linked to the local agents, for example Boeing, Garmin and Bose, among others, all had their own stands. AERO SA also afforded local companies a stage to introduce their home grown products to the industry. Beagle Tracking immediately springs to mind, they offer tracking service at a fraction of the cost of their international counterparts.
AERO SA facilitated what is thought to be the first “Park and Sell” area for aircraft in South Africa this was organised by Autotrader and every aircraft that was displayed was also listed in Autotrader. The interest in these aircraft was great, I’m sure that the show will lead to many of these machines being sold.
Inside the Ferdinand von Zeppelin Marquee there were on going workshops, covering topics such as Flight Planning, E-aviation around the world, the Safety-First Campaign and the Commercial Aviation Activity Index for the last quarter. Rob Jonkers gave a very interesting talk on the role of the Aero Club of South Africa.
The Marquee also housed many exhibition stands the largest of which belonged to Absolute Aviation, the Absolute stand seemed to become a meeting place for people to enjoy a cup of coffee and chat about all things aviation related.
The Little Annie team took advantage of their visitors to sell raffle tickets to win a Bose A20 headset, kindly donated by Bose to help raise the money they need to replace the motor on this famous Antanov AN2. Just love mission have been operating the AN2 for some years now introducing children to the joys of flying.
On Saturday morning the Expo was linked to a Fly-in, unfortunately the fly-in did not generate as much interest as hoped with approximately seventy aircraft joining the show. unfortunately, the sudden increase in traffic caused a few delays and some of the pilots held for a while and then decided to go elsewhere for their breakfast.
Everyday the show was closed off by a display flight by members of T-Xtreme and on Saturday Jason Beamish and Mark Sampson were joined by Menno Parsons in his P51 Mustang, this really was a fitting end to a great show.
Aero South Africa will be an held annually and is planned for the next one is planned for July 2020, after the success of this edition I am sure next years will be much larger with many more exhibitors.
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