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SACAA Celebrate 25 Years with an Airshow at Wonderboom

By Dian Townsend

Photos by Dian Townsend, Trevor Cohen and Rayno Snyman

In the final weeks leading up to the highly anticipated SAAF Museum Airshow, a surprise airshow, organized by the SACAA (South African Civil Aviation Authority), popped up on the calendar. This show was hosted at Wonderboom National Airport in Pretoria to celebrate the SACAA's 25 years of existence.

The program started at 09:00 with a whole host of speeches by various role players in the civil aviation industry. These included members from the City Of Tshwane, the Department Of Transport and the SACAA. Learners from nearby schools were invited to come share in the aviation festivities and lined the crowd line from the moment the first aircraft took off.

The first flying action started just after 10:00 with the Airlink Embraer E195, ZS-YDE, in its sleek black "Skybucks" livery arriving at Wonderboom.

Shortly after Airlink's arrival, the airshow action started, first up was the Puma Energy Flying Lions flown by Ellis Levin, Arnie Meneghelli and Sean Thackwray. They were followed by Johann “Juba” Joubert in the Alouette III, making his first appearance of the day, with his second being in the Gazelle later in the afternoon.

Andrew Blackwood-Murray in his Nashua Extra 300LX was the next to take to the air, delivering a master-class aerobatics display. The bright blue skies made for a beautiful backdrop to the thick smoke being pumped out of the Extra's exhaust. The other Extra seen on this jam-packed program was Tristan Eeles in the On The Move Extra 330SC Tristan recently represented South Africa at the Advanced Aerobatics World Championships held in Las Vegas, USA.

Some of Classic Flying Collection's machines made for a nice change of pace in the program. The yellow Tigermoth and two-ship chipmunk formation beautifully showcased some machines from yesteryear, flown by Grant Timms, Rodney Chin and Ryan Briggs respectively.

Speaking of machines from a time gone by, the SAAF Museum also sent an Alouette II and an Alouette III to perform their famous Alouette Ballet display.

One of the bigger treats at this civilian airshow was the SAAF's 85 Combat Flying School BAe Hawk Mk 120 display flown by Lt. Col. Scott "Prowler" Logie.

Both the Goodyear Eagles and Hired Gun Pitts teams were present and as always delivered world-class displays. Coming from Rand as well was the Bell 222 helicopter from Henley Air, flown by none other than Andre Coetzee.

Some more displays, showcasing some of the machines often flown within the general aviation community in South Africa were the Cirrus SR22flown by Scully Levin, Andre van Zyl in his Magni Gyro, a two-ship Savannah formation expertly flown by Jason Beamish and Richard Nicholson Jnr, Trevor Warner and Dion Raath performing a slightly diluted Van's RV Raptor display and father and son team of Steve and Mike George joined by Ryno Coetzer for the North American Navion display.

The South African Police Service Airwing entertained the large crowd of approximately 10000 people with a rarely-seen operational display of both an H125 light utility helicopter and a Pilatus PC-6 Porter.

The last big treat for this show was the Airlink display flown by Capt Jaco Henning and his crew. Airlink has participated in a few local airshows recently and managed to put on a memorable display every single time!

A big thank you goes out to the ASSA team, the SACAA, Brian, Elvis and the whole Capital Sounds team, Wonderboom National Airport and everyone else involved with the organising of the show.

And to those who could not make this show, there is no shortage of alternatives on the way. The first of these is the SAAF Museum Airshow to be held at the Air Force Mobile Deployment Wing on the 4th of May. This will be followed by the Lowveld Airshow on the 11th of May at Nelspruit Airport, the New Tempe Airshow on the 25th of May and the Potchefstroom Airshow on the 1st of June with even more planned for the rest of 2024.

In less than two weeks from the date of publishing, the SAAF Museum is set to put on an airshow for the ages. This show promises to be one with non-stop flying action, new displays and even some old ones making a return. Airshow season is upon us, so make sure those camera batteries are charged, sunscreen is packed and tickets are purchased!

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