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Parys Airshow 2022

By Garth Calitz Photos Andre Venter and Trevor Cohen

The highly anticipated Parys took place on Saturday 28 May, the first inland airshow since the world was plunged into a state of disaster two years ago. Sadly the number of spectators had to be strictly controlled to comply with the latest government regulations. Tickets were pre-sold online and by the time the show kicked off almost all the tickets were sold out, there was however some space available for walk-in visitors but by 10:00 these too were taken and the gates were closed to the public.

The airshow started spot on time with a group of skydivers from the local skydiving club being dropped from an ex Rhodesian Airforce Trojan that had been converted from a piston to a turbine. While the trojan was climbing the Puma Energy Flying Loins got airborne for the first flying display of the day.

Andre van Zyl then took to the beautiful blue Free State skies in his Magi Gyrocopter, the manoeuvrability of this machine impressed the growing crowd. Once Andre had landed safely the Raptor RV formation few a flawless display of tight formation aerobatics in three RV8s and one RV7, the Parys faithful were shocked to hear that all these aircraft were built by the owners.

Capital Sounds, Brian Emmenis built the anticipation for Andre Coetzee’s Bell 222 display by playing the iconic theme song from the 80s TV show “Airwolf”. Scully Levin then led the Hired Gun Pitts Special team in a brilliant display, unfortunately, only three of the four aircraft took part in the display. The high-speed aerobatics of the Pitts gave way to the gentle gracefulness of the De Havilland Chipmunks flown in tight formation, it was good to see Chipmunks at an airshow again as we haven’t seen them for many years.

Air-tractors from crop spraying company Sandriver took to the sky to display the accuracy and speed at which they perform their crop spraying duties. The now, very rarely seen AT-301 radial powered Air Tractor kicked off the display followed by an AT-402 and finally the larger AT-602 which ended off the display with a water drop used when fighting fires.

Excitement levels reached fever pitch when the new formed Team Iveco took to the air, Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish flew a high energy display in their Extra 330SC and 330LX with some very interesting new variations on existing manoeuvres like the rolling switch-blade. Jason broke off and Nigel was joined for a hover quick competition by Menno Parsons in his Master Power Bell 407, Menno then went into a very fast and furious display in the Helicopter.

Pierre Gouws satisfied all the Jet fan's lust for speed with a stunning display in Richard Lovetts Aero L-39 Delfin, this may not be the fastest jet around but it definitely is a crowd-pleaser. Pierre dedicated the display to his good friend Glen Warden who sadly died in an aerobatic accident at the end of last year. Glen was then honoured by his former team, the Goodyear Eagles, with an excellent display of tight formation aerobatics with some really tight mirror image flying.

Oscar Goudriaan was aero-towed into the big blue for a display of glider skills in a Jonker Sailplanes JS3 Rapture as everyone thought he was about to land with all his energy spent he popped out the mini-jet engine and quickly accelerated to continue the display. Jonker Sailplanes are widely regarded as the best gliders in the world and are built right here in South Africa, yet another SA aviation success story.

The graceful de Havilland Tigermoth then took to the sky, Grant Timms danced around the air with this pilot maker from years gone by. Nigel Hopkins put his Extra 330SC through its paces showing just why he has earned his reputation as one of the best Freestyle Aerobatics Pilots in the world, this gravity-defying display had the crowds holding their collective breath.

Ivan van der Schaar showed off his beautifully restored Boeing Stearman with a sequence of gentle loops and barrel rolls. The American Stearman performed much the same training function as the previously mentioned British de Havilland Tigermoth during WWII.

After a second display by the Hired Gun Pitts team Johan “Juba” Joubert broke all the laws of physics with a display in an Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopter, Juba is one of those pilots who wears an aircraft and it becomes an extension of his own body.

The rest of the afternoon was made up of repeat performances from the morning line-up. Barrie Eeles flew a wonderful display in his On The Move sponsored Extra 330SC, Extra 330's have dominated world aerobatics for the last decade.

The show was then closed off as it opened with a display by the Puma energy Flying Lions who performed a missing man formation for the late Stewart King, Stewart had been actively involved at Parys airfield for 42 years this was a fitting gesture for a well-loved man.

The spectators thoroughly enjoyed the show but unfortunately, a two-meter fence had been erected around the public areas severely limiting any photography, speaking to members of the public after the show they mentioned that it seemed like overkill and a lower fence would have been just as effective for keeping the crowd in the designated area.

Special thanks must go to Brian Emmenis and his very professional team from Capital Sounds, they somehow lift a normal airshow to a special event with their amazing commentary and choice of music that perfectly suits every display. The Safety team led by Rikus Erasmus did a superb job of keeping the show safely on schedule throughout the day without the slightest lull in the action.

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