Stellenbosch warms old and young hearts alike-Stellenbosch Airshow 2019
Stellenbosch is situated in the Western Cape, South Africa. The area is known for its scenery, wine, university and the kindness of the community. Stellenbosch Flying Club is located just off the R44 leading out of Stellenbosch and has a relaxed atmosphere where flying, local craft beer and good food makes for lazy Saturday afternoons. On the 23rd of March 2019 this changed to a hive of activity and the day where it all came together, months of meticulous planning with hard work and preparations came together. The scene was set, the queue at the gates forming just after sunrise and the weather being almost perfect.
The packed program list and the variety of participating aircraft is proof of a wonderful show that warmed the hearts of many. The biggest flag in Africa was parachuted in from a C206, the emergency cavalcade was on display and the props of the aircraft of the first display were turning… out came the Silver Falcons to open the show. With the mountains and greenery from the surroundings being the scenery, the Silver Falcons took to the sky and gave a shortened but wonderful display. Really being the cockpit ambassadors for the South African Air Force.
Special mention is to be made of Mr Air Show, Brian Emmenis. As many will know, he is the voice of air shows in South Africa and abroad. While the first few displays where happening, interviews were performed with James Vos: MEC Tourism and Economic Affairs, Major Omphile Mutloane, Phillip du Preez: Head of ExecuJet Cape Town, Franz Smit: Pilot insure and Graham Smith who received a lifetime membership from Stellenbosh Flying Club.
The program consisted of The Silver Falcons, Team Extreme, a Mango B737, Ex-SAAF Bosbok, Working on Fire display consisting of two Hueys, a Cessna and AT-802, L39, NAC Bell 407, Shock Cub, Raptors RVs, Tigermoth, J51C Glider, Boeing Stearman, Howard Vintage, Radio Control Models, Husky, Harvard T6, a display by TSU/AGA involving vehicles, dogs and a EC145, M16 Gyro, NAC Mirage PA 46-350.
The list of pilots being as impressive as the list of aircraft consisting of Scully Levin, Pierre Gouws, Trevor Warner, Nigel Hopkins, Glen Warden, Trevor Milton, Ivan V/D Schaar, Jurie Steyn, Trevor Milton and many others. These pilot put up energised displays that had the crowds entertained, camera shutters clicking all day long (making downloading, editing and posting a challenge) and made this show a memorable one.
throughout the day there were constant movements by staff between the crowds to collect litter which easily makes this the cleanest show I have witnessed. After a long hot day, the warmest in weeks, with loads of liquids consumed and the crowds leaving, there was not a single piece of paper or empty bottle lying around.
With the crowds heading home and some staying for a last drink or chat with old friends, the departing aircraft made for a mini show as many did the traditional fly by as a thank you. The Silver Falcons being no exception. They took off, the formation was formed and the six ship came past 3 times, almost as if they didn’t want to head home as yet. As the sun set on the mountains, the light being amazing, the dust from the show settled these were observed by a few and was truly magical.
A time to reflect on the day. To cement the memories made. To salute an organising team and everyone involved, from pilots to ground crew and cleaning staff. A massive thank you to all. Not even load shedding could dampen spirits or impact the show!
The Stellenbosch Air Show hosted by the Stellenbosch Flying Club is to be an annual event and surely one to diarise! I for one will be there.
See you next year!