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Heroldt’s Group Tempe Airshow 2023

By Garth Calitz


New Tempe Airfield has always delivered rather different airshows and this year was no exception. Conrad Botha and his team managed to put together a full day's entertainment without the usual displays that we see at each and every airshow.

The airshow was held the same week as the National Aerobatics Championships which meant many of the best aerobatics pilots were already in town thus reducing the cost to get everyone to the show, secondly, the active skies leading up to the airshow definitely piqued the interest levels of the locals. This clearly worked as a rather large crowd arrived on the rather cold Saturday morning.

On the Friday before the show day, some of the Aerobatic pilots took to their and made their way to various parts of Bloemfontein and did a few formation passes pumping smoke, just in case there were some people in the city of roses that didn’t know there was an airshow the following day.

On Saturday morning it was an early start for everyone involved in the airshow the pilots and safety crew had a briefing at 8:00 where all the safety requirements were discussed, the emergency services then accompanied the pilots to each aircraft that was to take part in the show to learn the ins and outs of the canopy and harness release of each aircraft in case of an incident.

At exactly 10:00 the show started with a cavalcade of emergency vehicles that would be on standby for the day, as always everyone hoped it would be the last we saw of them for the day. The cavalcade was followed by a sky-diving drop from one of the many Atlas Angles dotted around drop zones in South Africa. To the amazement of the Capital Sounds crew, one of the canopies used was a Capital Sounds canopy that had been made in the late 1980s.

Once all the skydivers were safely on the ground an enthusiastic bunch of RC pilots from Central Radio Flyers entertained the growing crowd with Large Scale aerobatics aircraft at first. With all the prop aircraft on the ground it was time for the jets to have some fun, a formation of two Chinese Chengdu J-10 scale models took to the air followed by a perfect replica of an Atlas MB-326 Impala from the South African Airforce. The final display was a US Cobra helicopter, sadly this display didn't last too long as the aircraft suffered a tail rotor failure and was forced to do an emergency landing.

Brian Emmenis then drew everyone’s attention to the Glider Cub which is located about 2km to the east of Tempe, Jaques van Wyk got airborne in his Janus C RG Glider under tow from a Lambada motor glider. Once he reached altitude he was released and did a series of passes before landing back at the glider club.

Barrie Eels then took to the air in his On The Mov sponsored Extra 330SC, Barrie performed a freestyle sequence showing off just how manoeuvrable this aircraft can be in the right hands. The Extra range of aircraft has become almost unbeatable in the world of aerobatics and is the proud holder of every world title since 2013.

All eyes were then focused on Grant Timms in Hangar 51’s beautiful Aero L-29 Delfin, the aircraft is based in Gqeberha previously Port Elizabeth. Grant flew a very graceful display in this Eastern Block trainer. After the display Grant dedicated the flight to his mother who sadly lost her battle with cancer the previous week.

Andrew Balckwood-Murray then took to the sky in spectacular style, rolling his Nashua Extra 300L inverted just after take-off and slowly climbing out while still inverted. Andrews's display consisted of a multitude of inverted manoeuvres, real painful stuff.

To end off the morning segment of the show was a brilliant display of formation aerobatics flown by Mark Hensman, Johnie Smit and Eugene du Preez al flying Vans Rv’s, they were joined by Red Bull pilot Patrick Davidson in his Game Bird GB-1. Patrick will be defending his Sky rand Prix title in the upcoming Sky GP which will be held in Durban in mid-June.

During the lunch break, Jason Beamish raced a Corvette down the 1,3km runway, the Corvette managed to do his turns much faster than Jason in the Extra 330SC and just piped him at the finish. Jason then did a low knife-edge pass over a collection of Harley Davidson motorcycles that had parked on the runway. Conrad Botha taxied out his newly rebuilt Slick 360 to show the locals what can be expected in the future, sadly it is not yet authorised to fly. Patrick Davidson was not about to let the four-wheel ground hoggers beat the aircraft, so he challenged a Ferrari to a race and promptly beat him.

After lunch, the morning programme pretty much repeated itself with a few minor changes. In the second para-drop skydiving legend Graham Field took a very lucky winner of the Radio Rosestad competition for a tandem jump. The smile on his face said it all when he landed.

John Bassi of Bassair Aviation a local Helicopter operator decided to make the day memorable for eight lucky people, he asked patrons of the show to write their names on their entry tickets and drop them in a drum at the Capital Sounds commentary area. About half an hour later he threw all the entries on the ground and randomly picked up eight of them, these were then handed to Brian Emmenis. Brian called out the names and all the lucky winners were taken for a scenic flight over Bloemfontein, I can't think of a better way to cap a great airshow day.

A wonderful show was capped off with the ACSA fire tender displaying how it sprays water and foam in case of a serious incident at Braam Fisher, we thank ACSA for the loan of their equipment and crew without which Airshows like this would not be allowed to take place. Special thanks to Rikus Erasmus and his safety team for keeping the airshows high pace action throughout the day. Conrad and his team for organising this amazing spectacle and we hope to be back next year.

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