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Barnstormers MFC – Warbirds Airshow

I arrived at the Barnstormers Model Flying Club airfield on Sunday, with no idea what to expect as I had never been to a model aircraft airshow. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement, the airfield is beautifully maintained and one can see this is a very well run operation. I was a bit surprised to see a que at the gate to get in, I didn’t expect this from a Model Airshow, as soon as I got in, I realised why it was so popular.

Unfortunately, I was a bit late and had already missed some of the displays, the show started on time at exactly 10:00. The World War I aircraft had just landed and after a short chat to some of the enthusiastic spectators I realised I had missed the Model Skydiving, L39 Jet and the 3D-Demo. There was also a  Blanik L-13 Jet on the programme but sadly the pilot couldn’t make it.

Sopwith Pup

A duo of Large Scale Aerobatics Edge 540’s were busy with a sequence that would make the any full scale aerobatics pilot wish they had the power to weight ratio of these amazing aircraft. Large Scale Aerobatics or FAI F3M is gaining popularity and have many competitions around the country, judging is very similar to that of their full scale counterparts.

The next aircraft to take to the sky was my definite favourite for the day, Neville Wright expertly flew his turboprop powered Pilatus PC-21, this aircraft is beautiful painted in the colours of the Royal Saudi Air Force and is capable of top speeds in the vicinity of 420km/h. form start-up to shutdown it looks and sounds just like its full scale brother.

Pilatus PC-21

After another Edge 540 display everyone present was transformed to 1940’s Europe with a display of a number of World War II aircraft. Spitfires, Mustangs and even a Vought F4U Corsair took to the sky. While the WWII aircraft were flying the wind picked up and a few of the pilots opted not to risk flying their masterpieces in the gusty conditions. A P40 Kittyhawk painted in the colours of the RCAF and now belonging to the Frasca Air Museum was a pleasure to see in the air. Amongst the Spitfires was a 2 Squdron Spitfire Mk.V used in Italy During WWII.

 Edge 540

P40 Kittyhawk

Vought F4U Corsair

2 Squdron Spitfire Mk.V

One of the Mustangs was an unfortunate casualty of the wind when the aircraft suffered an engine out in a tight turn and before the pilot could recover her, she stalled and spun in, the aircraft sadly was all but destroyed. A Mitsubishi J2M also suffered an engine out and was quite badly damaged in the ensuing forced landing. The beautiful Vought Corsair had to do a belly landing as the gear didn’t extend when it was time to land, it also suffered some damage but I’m sure it will be back in the air soon.

Vought F4U Corsair wheels up

Mitsubishi J2M

Dean Grobbelaar from Aerial Concepts unleashed his Ultra Lightning, this high speed jet made passes at well over 500km/h powered by its  a 20 kg thrust turbine motor. Trying to photograph this monster at full tilt is very difficult but I guess its good panning practise.

Ultra Lightning

After the high speed display things were slowed down considerably with a beautify display of a Piper Cubs, the Cubs were joined by a Super Cub and a Bellanca Citabria. One of the larger Cubs put on  a show that would make Danie Terblanche very proud, running down the runway on one wheel and the other.  By now the wind was pumping at about 25knts making life very difficult for the pilots that decided to fly.

Piper Cub

Bellanca Citabria

Super Cub

P51 Mustangs once again filled the sky, one of the most famous Mustangs ever flown was one of them, the legendary pilot Bob Hoover’s "Ole Yeller". Bob Hoover flew this machine at airshows all over the USA and was widely regarded as the best Rudder and Stick man to have ever lived. "Ole Yeller" was joined by a SAAF 2 Squadron Mustang, the SAAF operated Mustangs in the Korean War before converting to the F86 Sabre. 

"Ole Yeller"

SAAF 2 Squadron Mustang

Just before the lunch break some civilian aircraft went out to strut their stuff, Pierre Gouws would have been proud to see his Vans RV 8 amongst them, Pierre is the leader of the Raptors RV formation aerobatics team and has led the team in South Africa as well as taking part in the World Formation aerobatics Championships in China a few years ago.

Vans RV 8

During the Lunch break Ian Reed ran his restored Rolls Royce Griffon motor and I’m sure the surrounding residents couldn’t understand what all the noise was about as they are accustomed model aircraft with considerably less noisy engines. The Griffon Motor was used on the SAAF’s Shackleton 1717, which was scrapped a few years ago and donated to the Transport Museum. Ian acquired the engine and painstakingly restored it to running condition.

Children of all ages were invited to assemble in the centre of the flying area for the customary “sweetie drop”, the sweets were dropped from a rather large RC Aircraft called “Nipper”. The Kids loved this so much four passes were done each one with a full load of sweets.

After the lunch break it was time for the WWII aircraft to brighten up the sky, followed by an Aero tow of a very large Discus 2C glider. Getting the glider back to the field once released from tow proved a bit troublesome in the very high winds but the pilot managed very well.

Then it was time for a nostalgic trip when the Douglas C47 took to the sky, Dakotas have always had a special place in every aviation enthusiasts’ heart and watching this marvel of aviation history flying around must have tugged a few heart-strings, even if the sound was quite right. I know for one the commentator of the show, retired airline Captain Karl Jensen who himself has many Dakota hours was touched buy this beautiful sight.

 Karl Jensen 

The rest of the afternoon consisted of repeats of the morning displays, the event was closed off with a display of aerial combat by what is know as Gremlins’, these are basically flying wings with a streamer dragged behind them. The idea is to cut your competitors streamer before yours gets clipped by another aircraft. These aircraft are made as economically as possible because they do often end up crashing into one anther.

Credit must go to Danie Potgieter, Chairman of the Barnstormers MFC , Roland Suhrmuller his vice Chair and the rest of the Barnstormers team for a wonderful day which was safely run and very entertaining for young and old. I will definitely be back for your next airshow.

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