• Garth Calitz

Editors Wrap-up, 2019 in Review


Good day all

As we reach the end of 2019, a year full of positives and unfortunately many negatives as well. This will definitely go down in history as a year many in the Airline Industry would rather forget. The year started off with the news that Cemair were once again grounded by the SA CAA, a battle ensued that lasted for almost the entire year, finally Cemair took to the skies gain only to announce that they will be moving the bulk of their operation to Canada in 2020.

Comair had just received the first of their Boeing 737 Max aircraft a few days before they were grounded worldwide, the grounding came after a second fatal accident involving the type.

The future of the Max is still unclear, it must be noted that it doesn’t look to good with Boeing shutting down the production of the Max albeit on temporarily.

The most recent tremor in the industry was the announcement that the embattled SAA will be entering “Business Rescue”, we will have to wait and see if the SOE is in anyway recoverable.

Mango Airlines on the other hand have been reasonably successful and welcomed back their previous CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout, which caused a political tug-of-war as certain politicians didn’t believe he was a suitable candidate.

FlySafair however had an exceptional year, they cleaned up at both the CAA Industry Awards and the ACSA Feather Awards which is a true reflection of their achievements over the last year. Well done FlySafair.

On the Military side of things, the SAAF celebrated their 99th birthday in the 1st of February hopefully 2020 will be a big year with the SAAF moving into their Centenary year. The SAAF did managed, despite the limited budget, to entertain Cape Town residents during the very successful Armed Forces Day Celebration, that took place early in 2019.

South African aviation enthusiasts were treated to many airshows throughout the year, the airshow season a was kicked off with a brilliant show at the Middelburg Airfield during the Aero Club of South Africa’s Air week.

The Airshow Circus then moved to Stellenbosch, treating the Capetonians to the first airshow in the area for many years. The Stellenbosch Airshow was crowned as the best Airshow of the year at the Aero Club awards ceremony.

The Lowveld airshow was next on the list, the organisers attempted something new with DJ’s accompanying aerial acts, It was loud but the public seemed to enjoy this new take on the standard Airshow.

Two weeks later it was time to cross the border for the amazing Botswana International Airshow, a firm favourite in my book.

From Matsieng all the Airshow acts made their way to Newcastle for their annual airshow, then after a few weeks’ sabbatical was off to Maputo, Klerksdorp hadn’t seen an airshow for many years and the enthusiasm showed clearly on the faces of the locals.

Klerksdorp hosted an Airshow to coincide with the National Aerobatics Championships , have the last day of competition on show day added to the great spectacle.

Bethlehem was the next point of call for the Airshow machine, Bethlehem airshow really went all out to bring the aviation message home to the youth of the area.

The SAAF Museum airshow took place two weeks later, originally planned for May but had to be moved as it clashed with the National election. Unfortunately, the planned ICAD airshow in Polokwane was rained out.

On the Fly-in front aviators were spoiled for choice with more than one fly-in taking place almost every weekend somewhere in South Africa.

Some of the notable ones were the Nylstroom Taildraggers, which will be moving to Warmbaths next year as a result of the airfield being overtaken by the squatters that made their home at the field.

The EAA Convention in Vryheid was a highlight as well as the EAA Sun ’n Fun at Brits airfield.

On the Aerobatics front, the increase in participation noticed in competitions is promising for the sport. Gary Glasson and his team must be commended for swelling the SAC membership and offering mentorship for young upcoming pilots.

The Rally flying world has been turned on its head with the inception of the Speed Rally Championships, the 2018- 2019 season ended at Secunda earlier this year and the new season has already begun. The Speed Rally format was used at this year’s very successful Presidents Trophy Air Race and for the first time in many years there was no unhappiness about handicapping. Well done Rob Jonkers, Jonty Esser and the rest of the team at SAPFA, as well as PilotInsure for their extensive sponsorship of these events.

The Flightline Weekly Team will be taking a break for the festive week but we will be back with the first edition of 2020 on the Tuesday 7 January.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our readers, advertisers and of course the contributors for making 2019 the successful year it was. Have a very Safe, Peaceful and Merry Christmas and I whish you all a very Prosperous, Healthy and Happy New Year.

In closing please spare a thought for all the families and loved ones of aviators we lost through whatever cause this year. Gone but never forgotten.

Please be safe and see you all in the New Year

Garth

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