Botswana Tourism Organization well done on presenting a magnificent airshow, definitely one for the record books.
The show officially started just after 12:00, President Ian Khama had barely arrived when a group of skydivers, one of them flying a massive Botswana flag emerged from a Bell helicopter from the Botswana Defence force (BDF), as he slowly descended the National Anthem of Botswana was played by a Rumba band.
A cavalcade of veteran cars paraded down the taxiway led by a vehicle carrying members of Botswana Tourism, followed by a group of bikers form on of the local Gaborone bike clubs and finally the FMX riders on their highly specialised MX bikes.
The flying displays were officially kicked off by two Botswana Defence Force Bell 412 Helicopters Flying the Botswana National flag and the BDF Flag.
The sky was then filled with canopies both civilian and military; the sky divers were dropped by a military Casa 235.
Botswana Wildlife Preservation unit did a fly-past in a Quest Kodiak flanked by four Jabirus, these aircraft are used extensively in the fight against poaching.
The next wave of BDF aircraft to fly past the ever growing crowd was a flight of helicopters, the mighty Super Puma leading two Airbus AS350 formerly known as the Eurocopter Squirrel.
The Falcons, the official BDF aerobatics team did a very short display in their Pilatus PC7’s after their display they performed a perfect formation landing with one of them landing n he taxi way right in front of the crowed.
As soon as the PC7’s were safely on the ground a mini war erupted between two sets of troops. A Canadair CF5 fighter was called in to offer assistance to the BDF members. A low pass followed by a massive wall of fire.
The civilian portion of the show got underway with a brilliant display by Team Extreme, Jason Beamish got airborne in his Extra 300 followed by an opposing take-off by Nigel Hopkins and Mark Hensman. This hi-Impact aerobatic display had the Botswana crowd gasping for breath.
The Puma Energy Flying Lions were next up led by Scully Levin the team of Arnie Meneghelli, Ellis Levin and Sean Thackwray produced a polished display, the radial roar of the Pratt and Whitney is always a crowd pleaser.
Keeping the Airshow on Schedule proved to be a big challenge for the Chris Briers, François Hankou and their team as they had to stop the show for the commercial traffic as Sir Seretse Khama Airport remained an operational international airport throughout the show.
Neville Ferreira in his Slick 540 took to the beautiful Botswana skies to thrill the Botswana faithful with a High-energy and Hi- Impact display. Neville will be competing in the World Freestyle Aerobatics Championships in Malelane later this year. The slick 540 and 360’s are a proudly South African design and build.
As soon as Neville was on the ground Jason Beamish landed his J3 Cub on what must be the smallest aircraft carrier in the world, Vaughn Russel Smith Drives in a modified vehicle at just the right speed and Jason lands on top of the vehicle and then takes off again, the teamwork and precision are to successfully pulling off this display.
From the noise of engines to the silence of a glider dancing through the sky, Gary Whitecross delivered a thrilling display with his Pilatus B4 glider, Gary competes against powered aircraft in aerobatic competitions. Gary needs to be tugged in the air and this is taken care of by Derek Hopkins using a Lombada motor Glider.
From the tranquillity of the glider to the roar of Drift cars, the first of the motor sport events. Two drift cars accompanied by Johan “Juba” Joubert in his Alouette II helicopter gave all the petrol heads something to cheer about. Motorsport is becoming more common at Airshows led of course by the Adrenaline show at Wonderboom Airport.
Keeping with the motorsport next up was the Crazy men on their FMX bikes doing a range of tricks on a specially constructed take-off and landing ramp.
Nigel Hopkins took to the air in his Extra 330sc in a solo display showing off the skills that took him to the top of the pile in Unlimited aerobatics in South Africa, Nigel is one our hopefuls to gain top honours at the upcoming World Championships.
The Show was briefly “interrupted” by a vehicle that was apparently parked in the wrong place; The Bell UH1 Huey belonging to Menno Parsons volunteered to remove it and dropped it in show centre to the amazement of the now very large crowd.
Miss Botswana Thata Kenosi was “kidnapped” right in front of the crowd while doing a victory drive down the taxiway, fortunately the motorcycle rapid deployment team were on site and they quickly chased after the kidnappers Dylan Smith’s motorcycle is strapped to the skid of Juba’s Alouette and is quickly deployed. Due to their quick intervention Thata was safely rescued.
The afternoon saw many of the earlier displays being repeated, Jason Beamish wowed the crowd with a solo display in his Absolute Aviation Extra 300.
Little Annie the beautiful Antanov AN2, flown by father and son team Mark and Jon-Mark Hill displayed this graceful old lady as the shadows began to lengthen, This particular AN2 was flown all the way from Russia 3 years ago for the purpose of letting orphans experience flight with the Just Love Mission
The Torre Pitts Special team keep the crowd from leaving with a late afternoon display in their beautifully maintained Pitts specials. The team had to land very quickly as the same team were flying the Show Finale.
Neville Ferreira’s second display was nothing short of spectacular, Neville went inverted just after take-off and flew the length of the display line inverted. The highlight was his very fast 250kt pass (500km/h).
As the show grew to a close the FMX stunt riders entertained all with their Arial abilities one more time, what these guys manage on motorcycles is nothing short of amazing.
Jason did one more truck top landing before the show was closed off by the Puma Energy Flying lions with a beautiful twilight display, There really is something special about the sound of Harvards at sunset.
Tammi Mac Alister and your team well done on putting together on of the most amazing airshows seen in a long time, Brian Emmenis and the team at Capital sounds you guys make the airshows an absolute pleasure forall who attend.
Hope to see you all next year at the 2018 Gaborone Airshow
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