By Garth Calitz
Neville Ferreira like many of the top aerobatic pilots grew up in an aviation family, Neville’s father was a charter pilot and as a result, he spent much of his childhood at an airfield. Many people expected Neville to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a commercial pilot, but he decided to go into business and only started flying later in his life.
As soon as Neville Started flying he started working towards flying aerobatics, his first truly aerobatic machine was a Yak 52 which he acquired in 2005 a year after he started his aerobatic training. He first competed in a competition in 2010 with his trusty Yak 52.
By this time the bug had well and truly bitten and Neville’s highly competitive nature compelled him to put in many hours of practice. Neville progressed from nose wheel to tail wheel in 2011 when he purchased a Yak 55, in which he started to take part in many local aerobatic competitions quickly moving up through the ranks.
In 2012 Neville competed in the Yak52 World Championship and managed fourteenth place overall which was very good considering he had less than two years of aerobatic competition experience and he was competing in a borrowed aircraft.
In 2014 the Intermediate World Championships were held in Mosel Bay, Neville took part where he obtained a very respectable third place overall in his brand new Slick 540. In addition to competing in Aerobatics competitions at the highest level, Neville was also a popular airshow display pilot well-loved for his high energy displays.
In 2018 Neville was offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly and display the Genevation Genpro, the Genpro is a clean-sheet design aerobatic aircraft that is built in Hungary, In this time Neville received aerobatic training from Claude “Coco” Bessiere arguably one of the best Aerobatic coaches in the world. Sadly the stress of running a successful business here in SA and the USA and having to spend long periods in Hungary proved too much and Neville had to walk away from this wonderful opportunity.
Neville decided to leave aerobatics completely and after selling his Slick 540 he purchased the one of a kind GK-1 and poured himself into refining this little pocket rocket. In addition to this, he spent time assisting home builders to refine their aircraft. Sadly on a flight in a friend KR-2 the aircraft experienced a catastrophic structural failure and Neville was fatally injured.
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Who knew when we said our goodbyes at Warmbaths Taildraggers it would be the final time.
Nicky and Robyn may you find peace in this difficult time our thoughts are with you.
Neville, fly well my friend, your enthusiasm and unwavering support off Flightline Weekly in the early years will never be forgotten.