Aerobatics – The South African Story, a must-have by Quintin Hawthorne

I recently received a copy of Aerobatics The South African Story, a real gem of a book for all aviation enthusiasts. From the forward by Annette Carson, herself a brilliant author of books like Flight Fantastic: The illustrated History of Aerobatics and Camel pilot Supreme, you will be riveted.

This is the second edition of the book the first was released in 1977, so one can understand that an updated edition was long overdue. Quintin, who incidentally is rated as the top aerobatics judge in the world after the 2019 world aerobatics championships, has done a remarkable job of telling the story of SA aerobatics from the first powered flight in South Africa to the ultra disciplined compensations.

Quintin himself has quite a history in aerobatics, he was part of a group of men that called themselves the “Flying Circus”. The Flying Circus arrived at the 1986 National Championships in Mkuze wearing some rather odd clothing and passed the day by serenading the pilots taxing out for their sequences, they even hosted their own flag accompanied by a lone bugle. The crowd of misfits became a regular sight at all aerobatics competitions and in an attempt to keep them quiet they were all drafted into judges assistant roles and ever since then Quintin has been judging both international and local competitions.

The edition of short biographies of some of the legendary aerobatics pilots is a wonderful addition to what is already a great read. The very user-friendly reference section makes researching who participated in any of the local competitions from the first one held in 1963 in Durban to the latest held at Bloemfontein a very simple task. Quintin has gone to great lengths to collect photographs from some of South Africa’s best aviation photographers to illustrate the book.

The book is the ideal, albeit late, Christmas present for any aviator that has the slightest interest in aerobatics. Some very familiar names keep popping up like Nick Turvey, Mike van Ginkel, Laurie Kay, Scully Levin and Brian Zeederberg to mention but a few. Later on, greats like Glen Dell and Peter Celliers and Stu Davidson dominate the pages and more recently the greatest Ding-Dong battle in SA aerobatics is highlighted, this being the battle between Nigel Hopkins and Patrick Davidson.

The book is available on the Sport Aerobatic Club website https://www.aerobatics.co.za/index.php/aerobatics-the-south-african-story


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