Tag Archives: Puma Energy

Kitty Hawk RV Fly-In 2019

Kitty Hawk Aerodrome once again held their annual RV Fly-In. The apron was jam-packed with light aircraft of all sorts. Everything from yesteryear general aviation types, to the RVs and even a few Cessnas, Bathawks and Gyrocopters. The morning started with a lovely breakfast at the Kitty Hawk Restaurant. The flying started at around 10h00 with 15 RVs getting airborne.

They formed for two formation flybys. After the mass flybys have concluded, the Raptor Aerobatic team started their display. The team’s display consisted of a couple of barrel rolls, loops and solo flybys. After the Raptors RV Team had landed, the skies filled with a familiar roar of radials.

The Puma Energy Flying Lions Harvard team came in to land. The fans really enjoyed chatting to Scully and Arnie. The Bell 206 Jet ranger also made a few passes with a journalist from eNCA inside. Following the helicopter trend, was the two Gyrocopters. I unfortunately missed the Flying Lions display as I my day ended shortly after their arrival.

With the big SAAF Museum Airshow held only a week prior, events like these often get over shadowed by the bigger shows, but they must not be underestimated. Having a chat with some of the airshow pilots is something that you don’t normally get to do at the bigger shows. Because the aircraft park right on the grass in front of the restaurant, it provides a unique opportunity for the future aviators to get up close and personal with the aircraft.

2019 has been a rough year for airshows in South Africa. Many have been cancelled or delayed, leaving the aviation fans longing for some action. That is where many of these smaller events have shined this year. We look forward to next year’s edition of these lovely event!


10 Years – Aviation Central 2009 to 2019

Aviation Central celebrates 10 Years

10 Years Long

Adrenaline Show

Adrenaline Show – Wonderboom National Airport

Aviation Central was founded in September 2009, just days before the 2009 Swartkop Airshow.

The drive behind the team that makes up Aviation Central, the time and effort spent in taking photographs, traveling across multiple countries to report on events, is all about the love and passion that the team has for aviation.

We have managed to see and witness some incredible moments in aviation in Southern Africa, and even witnessed some incidents we wouldn’t want to see again.

From the ups and the downs of regional air shows, to the fantastic Africa Aerospace and Defence show we eagerly attend every second year,

Race for Rhinos at Sua Pan in Botswana, The Botswana International Airshow and other neighbouring countries airshows around Southern Africa.

Gaborone International Airshow 2017

To flying in some exotic aircraft with friends we have made in the industry, to all the people behind the airshow scenes and fans we have met along the way.

We can’t thank you, all our fans and supporters, enough for all the positive feedback we have received on all our social media sites and our webpage, which was introduced in 2017.

Our team has all visited shows in their youth, but it started at the Wings N’ Wheels Airshow that was held at Airforce Base Swartkop in 2009, where we got to see a number of fighter aircraft display including

The SAAF Museums Mirage IIICZ ‘Black Widow’ and Aerosud Mirage F1AZ. To see those aircraft in formation at the end of the day, will stay in our memories for years to come.

It was also an opportunity to see the New Gripen and Hawk Fighter jets display as they were put through their paces for the Pretoria crowds for the first time.

Aviation Central’s mission is to bring as much information to the public about upcoming airshows and aviation related events that take place in Southern Africa.

We get messages from all over the world when it comes to airshows and people want to know more about the event before attending.

As a non-profit organisation, our purpose is not to make money, but rather to bring the joy of aviation pictures and stories to the public to their mobile phones, PCs and now even on YouTube. We will now be

posting aviation videos from airshow MOs and events so you can also witness the sights and sounds of the magnificent aircraft.

We look forward to continue providing everyone with up to date news on all aviation events in Southern Africa, for many, many years to come.

Aviation Central Timeline

  1. Formed 13 September 2009 by Elan Hoffman
  2. June 2011, Flippie van Emmenis joined as a Follower to Aviation Central
  3. March 2012 Flippie van Emmenis was granted admin right to help run Aviation Central
  4. Sep 2012 John James joined Team Aviation Central, John is currently inactive.
  5. Dec 2013 Aviation Central had it 1st 1000 likes
  6. Dec 2013 Lettie van Emmenis  Joined Aviation Central  (Admin) 
  7. March 2014 Trevor Viljoen Joined Aviation Central
  8. May 2015 Jarryd Sinovich joined Aviation Central, Jarryd has become one of the most active members of the team.
  9. Feb 2016 Aviation Central passed all other Aviation Media related pages with followers on Facebook
  10. September 2018 Alan Richert joined Aviation Central
  11. March 2019 Niel Swart Joined Aviation CentralJuly 2019 Aviation Central reached the 30 000 likes mark on Facebook

The Team

Team AC AAD2018

Team Aviation Central AAD2018

Elan Hoffman
I love flying. I love watching the aeries soar, the smell of jet fuel in the morning, the feel of the throttle in my hand.

I remember the internet boom and wanting to catch into that. Long ago, in a land down under, I built a website that could connect flyers, enthusiasts, aviation businesses. I left that land back home to South Africa and started that idea again.

And then Facebook happened and with it came a fast moving need that I could not manage on my own.

Fortune brought a good man to Aviation Central who had assembled a great team. They have taken Aviation Central to heights I only dreamed of. Their photographic prowess on display, their service given to this idea now showing in an Aviation Central Calendar on as many digital channels I know.

May an idea taken from humble beginnings keep on ascending!

Alan Richert

Since as a young lad watching Vampire’s, Hawker Hunter’s and Alouette III’s of the then Rhodesian Air Force flying over Lake Kyle returning from their missions, I have always been fascinated by aircraft.

However, it was only in the 1990’s that I got to experience air shows, and then trying to photograph them with my trusty old 35mm film point and shoot automatic camera! It was around 2012 I decided to do something about my interest in taking photographs, got myself a proper DSLR and dived head first into the world of photography. It was a natural progression to then bring the two passions together.

With a stressful day job in the Information Technology world, the relief of getting out and doing photography is very rewarding and helps keep me focused.

My passion is aviation photography, but I do enjoy shooting most types of action sports. To keep sane and when I want some me time, I indulge in a bit of landscape photography.

Having joined the Aviation Central team late 2018 I am still learning the ropes of all the behind-the-scenes activities, but I thoroughly enjoy the privilege of being able to share with you my photographs of these magnificent flying machines.

Niel Swart

Niel has been a member of Aviation Central since March 2019. He is based in the Cape but travels to events when and where possible and has actively been taking photos since 2007.
Niel has covered events like AAD and air shows at Swartkops, Stellenbosch and Rand. Some of his other work cover the Coca Cola World Cup B737 visiting South Africa as well as the first landings of the three British Airways reto B747’s.
He also has a fond love for trains, both big and small. His fondest memory is of chasing a train in a 1953 Chipmunk as a passenger by taking air to ground photos with the cockpit filling with the amazing smell of burning coal while banking and experiencing the sensation of flying.

Jarryd Sinovich

From the day my father brought home a toy 747 from his business trip to Cape Town,i have been devoted to aviation in South Africa. I attend my first ever airshow at the tender age of 3 that being DEXSA that was held at Airforce Base Waterkloof in 1998.To this day I remember sitting in the then Shurlock  Sponsored Pitts Special Aerobatic aircraft and the R=roar of thundering jets from above as my ears took a beating. I was hooked!

As the years went on I attend airshows all over the country from Cape Town to Polokwane, but one of my favourite shows I attended was the only and lets hope not the last fighter meet at Airforce Base Makhado in the Limpopo province. It was where I got to see a number of fighter jets fly as well as hear the then cheetah fighter jet break the sound barrier. I also got to witness Ivan “Viking” Pentz display the new Hawk Mk120 for the first time.

Since then I got my PPL in 2013 and continue to travel and enjoy the South African Airshow circuit. I look forward to a big celebration in 2020 with the South African Airforce 100th anniversary  and the Aero Clubs 100th too.

Flippie van Emmenis

Flippie Van Emmenis

Aviation Central’s Flippie Van Emmenis receiving an Honorary Membership Certificate from Eagle Air

I use to be the guy attending air shows sitting on my camping chair form the start of the show until the end of the show, without moving from myspot even if it caused dehydration as I did not want to miss a thing. At first I did not own a camera, nor did I ever consider getting one as it was about my love for air shows, the aircraft, the fuel and smell from the vendors all while listening to Brian doing commentary.  Facebook started to gain popularity in 2009 and in order to find out more about upcoming air shows, I started following aviation pages to.

I joined Aviation Central as a normal follower which had about 140 likes at that stage. Soon afterward following, I started commenting and asking many questions. Elan Hoffman, the creator of Aviation Central, asked me if I would like to help him with the admin the page. This totally caught me off guard as I never expected myself to be doing something like this. I thought that my writing skills were not up to standard for this but this will not stop me! About one year later the page had grown to over 1300 likes. Elan phoned me and offered me to take over the ownership of the page, once again shocked, but I accepted. So yes, I never planned something like this let alone dreamt about it. Now, my love for air shows has also grown into a passion that my wife and I as well as the rest of my team can share with all air show lovers all over Southern Africa and abroad.

Trevor Viljoen

My passion for Aviation started as a young boy going to the Virginia Airshows and from there it was just aviation that was in my head and all I could think about and still up to today, Flippie ( Boss Man) and I got to meet each other for the first time in 2014 after being chatting to each other and sharing our passion and love for Aviation on Facebook for sometime. My first post for Aviation Central was the first Sky GO held at North Beach in Durban and from then it has been one Fantastic ride with this team!

To be apart of this team is something that I never ever thought would happen but when Flippie asked me to join the Team I was not sure if i was good enough to be apart of Aviation Central but just took it by the horns and said yes for the love of Aviation and I have never looked back, it’s hard work but it’s an Honour and I am truly greatful and blessed to have been given the opportunity to share my passion for Aviation!

Lettie van Emmenis (Admin)
Since I met Flippie he took me to the first Air show. I saw the Vampire flying and the Silver Falcons I could not wait for the next airshow just to see them flying again. My love for Aviation was triggered by Flippie and I enjoy it a lot.

Thank you!

We would also like to Thank all the Guys and Gals that helped us with phots and stories over the last ten years, below is a list of Some of them!
Dries Beetge, Pieter Cronje, Ryno Albrecht, Koos Smit, Andre Nel, Andre Venter, Michael Combrink, Mark Mansfield, Annette Visage Nel, Russell Dixon-Paver, Ben van der Walt, Bennie Henning, Justin de Reuck, Brent Best, Ruan Du Rand, Dian Townsend and Charmaine Oliver.

We Would also like to send out a BIG thank you to Mr Brian Emmenis form Capital Sounds that was always willing to guide us and advise were we can improve, Brian, Thank you and please continue with your valuable input.

Mark Mansfield, Your guidance and Support to the Team is also very much appreciated, You opened many doors to Team Aviation Central and always supported us!

Thank you to all our Fans and Followers out there. To Our Critics, Thank you for showing us where we can Improve

Some Birthday Messages

Air Show South Africa – ASSA

Many happy returns to all our friends at Aviation Central on their 10th anniversary – Congratulations on the huge success and we look forward to continuing relationship for another 10 years at least

Trevor Cohen

Congratulations Aviation Central on achieving your first 10 years. You guys have provided the greater flying community with awesome up to date info pertaining to flying and flying events. Flippie you have guided this ship expertly and you should be proud of your achievement. Keep up the good work and loads of respect.

DJA Aviation

DJA uses Aviation Central to ensure that it stays up to date with all industry events and happenings.

DJA applauds Aviation Central on the availability and accuracy of information on their platform.

Simone Helen Stoop Lekker FM

Happy 10th birthday Aviation Central. This community has given me a platform to get updates about airshows, aviation news and to be part of a community that share my love for avaition. Thank you for your hard work and sharing your passion with all of us. Here is to another 100years of Aviation Central

Puma Energy – Flying Lions

Congratulations to Aviation Central on a decade of authentic aerobatic news. Although I have not worked with Flippie van Emmenis and his flaring team for the longest time, I am truly impressed by their dedication to the flying scene. Self-funding excursions to capture the greatest airborne photographs and creating emotional stories about our beloved pilots http://bit.ly/ArniesLoveStory. Aviation Central is our loyal Airshow support, without them, fans wouldn’t know about Airshows happening across our African skies. We are sincerely grateful to the Aviation Central team for collaborating on events to ensure we all experience the love for flying with the Puma Energy Flying Lions! We continue to praise you for your amazing work and together we bring you the roaring action from above.

Brian Emmenis Capital Sounds

What started out as a dream has now become an essential part of our everyday life. Congratulations FLIPPIE, you and your team are doing sterling work to promote aviation in South Africa. We at Capital Sounds are proud to be associated with your on-line forum.

Omphile Mutloane, Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team Leader

In an ocean of negativity, AC is a glimpse of what we can be in the professional world of aviation in SA, their professional approach to all that involves the saaf ,GA and corporate is highly appreciated! Carefully over the years you guys chose to highlight and promote the saaf and the Silver Falcons aerobatic team to the general public Cheers 🥂 to the next 10 years . Thank you so much for y’all professionalism.

Elvis Manene Capital Sounds

Well am proud of Aviation Central as the online magazine, they keep us updated with what’s happening in the aviation circle and they always accurate with the news they give us, one can rest assured when reading the news you guys give to the people that those news a correct as you get your story straight you don’t just head the bush, as for me am over the moon the be associated with Aviation Central.

Justin du Reuck

Wishing Flippie and the team at Aviation Central a very happy 10 year anniversary. Love what you guys do for aviation in SA. Keep up the good work.

Dian Townsend

Wishing Flippie and the team at Aviation Central a very happy 10 year anniversary. Love what you guys do for aviation in SA. Keep up the good work.

Team AC and Falcons

Team Aviation Central and Silver Falcons – Wonderboom 2016

Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team 82
Wishing Flippie and the team at Aviation Central a very happy 10 year anniversary. Love what you guys do for aviation in SA. Keep up the good work.

Breaking News-SAAF Museum Airshow set for 7th September 2019

Days remaining to Swartkop Airshow 2019

The South African Airforce Museum Airshow is set to take place at Airforce Base Swartkop in Pretoria on Saturday 7th September 2019.The Officer commanding of AFB Swartkop confirmed with Aviation Central the official date has been set for the 7th September and NOT the 31 August 2019.

Join the Facebook event page, click here 

We look forward to working with the SAAF and the Museum as we get ready for another successful airshow that will once again take place over Pretoria skies.

Tickets this year will cost R80 over the age of 16, ages 12 to 16 will be R30 and under the age of 12 free.

Keep an eye out on our social media pages for more information on the upcoming Airshow.

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Klerksdorp Airshow 2019

Country Airshows in South Africa definitely make you hungry as you arrive at the smaller airports such as Klerksdorp to the smell of boerie Wors rolls and pannekoek among the crowds. This show was quite different to others shows in the country as the SA National Aerobatic Championships had been taking place days before the show and ending on show day. Airshow followers were able to see the competition side of aerobatics plus an airshow to top it off. Read more on the aerobatics competition here

Airshow Crowd Line

The morning of the 22 June 2019,the final day for some of the competitors taking part in the national aerobatic champs was underway. By mid afternoon the airshow was underway by Team Extreme under the leadership of Nigel Hopkins, who also won the national aerobatic champs in the unlimited category. The Western Transvaal Classic Car club were also present with a number of classic cars on display. Lt Colonel Francois ‘Hose’ Hanekom and Klerksdorp aerobatic pilot local Cliff Lotter kept a good eye on Proceedings of the show. Capital Sounds provided sound and commentary for the large crowds and kept them entertained with information on pilots and aircraft. An RC Sbach was also put through its paces, that showing how it could hover centimetres off the ground.

Team Extreme
. The Western Transvaal Classic Car Club
Cliff Lotter climbing into his YAK55
RC Sbach 342

The Randolph sponsored Boeing Stearman flown by Ivan Van Der Schaar flew next on the program,while the freestyle aerobatics coloum continued with Barrie Eles,Nigel Hopkins,Patrick Davidson,Mark Hensman and Mark Sampson.

Boeing Stearman
Extra 330SC Barrie Eles
Extra 330SC Nigel Hopkins
Patrick Davidson in his Gamebird
MX2 Mark Hensman
ZU-XAX
Sbach 341 Mark Sampson

Master Power Technologies Menno Parsons brought both his Swiss Pilatus PC12 and P51D ‘Mustang Sally’. This was the first display for the Mustang at Klerksdorp. The Goodyear Eagles Pitts S2Bs gave their polished high energy display led by Glen Warden who also flew his Slick 360 in the aerobatic competition.

Pilatus PC12
P51D ‘Mustang Sally’
Goodyear Eagles Pitts S2Bs

The Puma Energy Flying Lions Harvard’s put on a three ship display, led by Scully Levin,Arnie Meneghelli and Sean Thackwary. Followed on by Andrew Blackwood Murray in his Nashua Extra 300LP.The Raptors RVs flew a four ship display also led by Nigel Hopkins. A jet powered glider was put through its paces, not something you see at airshows in South Africa that often.

Puma Flying Lions Harvard
Nashua Extra 300LP
Raptors RVs

Henley Air provided helicopter flights at the show in one of their Bell 206 Jet Rangers. A solo RV7 display by Trevor Warner before one of the best displays of the day was the three ship Yak 55 display with tight formation aerobatics flown by Nigel Hopkins, Jason Beamish and Mark Hensman.

Henley Air Bell 206
RV7
Yak 55 Formation

Klerksdorp Airshow, an Airshow arranged and ran by Pilots and what a good show this was!
Well done to the pilots and organisers for putting a show together in limited time, a big thanks to Werner Kruger from DJA Aviation Insurance for your hospitality during the show. Hope to see a show next year in the North West Province once again.

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Klerksdorp Ready for Aerobatics and Airshow this weekend

Some of South Africa’s local aerobatic Nationals are currently taking place at Klerksdorp Airport in the North West Province of South Africa. The P.C. Pelser Aerodrome will be abuzz with many aerobatic aircraft for the next couple of days. Local Radio presenter Alex Caige from 94.7 also graduated and will be flying in the Sportsman’s class in a Zlin50LS.

94.7 Highveld radio presenter Alex Caige flying the Zlin 50
Zlin 50

Airshow 22 June 2019

Saturday after the finishing of the national Aerobatic Champs, Klerksdorp will have a an Airshow, with many of the favourite airshow regulars such as the Flying,Lions,Team Extreme and many more. Capital Sounds will be the Broadcaster of the event and bringing you all you need to know during the course of the 22 June 2019.

Show starts at 11am, BUT gates open a 7 as Saturday morning will see the final rounds of the South African Sport Aerobatic Club National Championships. The Camps starts on Wednesday 19th, so if you can get to Klerksdorp please go and support our great aerobatic guys, Not only the pro’s but the young and upcoming guys as well.

Team Extreme
WesBank Botswana International Air Show 2019
Flying Lions

All the Big names will be competing over 3 days. +/- 30 Competitors had entered the SAC National Champs

19-21 June – Free to go and support our Aerobatic pilots
22 June – R50 per Adults and R20 per Kid to see the Final rounds and a Full Airshow from 11am to 4pm

Get your tickets at any Pick n Pay or online at #Webtickets
Ticket link https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1492090715

List known of Competitors at time of article

Some of the aircraft that will fly in the Nationals

Pitts S2B
Extra 330SC
Slick 360
Yak52
Extra 300LP
Extra 330SC
Extra 330 LC & Extra 330LX
Vans RV8
Zlin 50
Yak 55

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Botswana Airshow Rocks-Wesbank Botswana Airshow 2019

The African themed Oshkosh type fly-inn and airshow at Matsieng Airfield situated a few kilometeres outisde of the nations capital Gabarone. What makes a show so special here is getting the opportunity to camp bush style at an airfield and for some next to you aircraft.
Wesbank, once again a major sponsor for this years show at Matsieng with the help of the De Wet family, the show would not be possible.

We were flown from Wonderboom National Airport with ‘Little Annie’ the famous Antonov two owned by the Hill Family under the leadership of ‘Just Love Mission.As we cleared customs at Pilanesberg International Airport we made way to Matsieng Airfield, where we joined up in formation by a second An2 in old South African Airways Colours flown by Jon-Marc Hill and a Yak 18T, which made fantastic photo opportunities for the media onboard.

Antonov 2 ‘Daizy’

Friday Afternoon we got to see some validations before a late afternoon thunder storm made its way through the area, some of us scattred for the Town Lodge in Gabarone where we were fortunate enough to be
accommodated for the rest of the weekend thanks to the oragnisers. Saturday morning we made our way to the airfield for early arrivals as a perfect blue sky day was installed for the only airshow in Botswana this year.

The show started with a formation of microlights,a display that is not seen to often at shows in Southern Africa, showing off a dead stick landing was part of the show. ‘Little Annie’ An2 flown by Mark Hill and Col Keith Fryer
dropped skydivers including Ralph Ridge was the massive and biggest Botswana Flag. Jon- Marc Hill and His dad Mark flew a solo AN2 display and just to love ‘Little Annie’ even more she dropped marshmallows for the crowd. The vintage formation took to the skies, with this show being the first-time at a Southern African Airshow two Antonov 2s flew in formation with Randolph sponsored Boeing Stearman flown by Comair 737 Captain Ivan van der Schaar and Middleburg based YAK18T flown by Riaan Prinsloo. The crowd also got both a solo display by the Boeing Stearman and Yak18T. Capital Sounds Brian Emmenis and his hard working team rigged the longest sound system for the first time at the show, always a treat to hear the voice of Brian at Airshows as he brings the vibe to each show he attends.

Microlight Formation
Ralph Ridge-Big Botswana Flag
Skydivers Elmarie Grobler & Ian Jacobs
‘Little Annie’ AN2 solo display
WesBank Botswana International Air Show 2019
‘Little Annie’ An2 Marshmallow drop
WesBank Botswana International Air Show 2019
Youngsters with their Marshmallows
Vintage Formation-Boeing Stearman,Yak18T & Two AN2s
Boeing Stearman
Yak 18T

Conrad Botha started the days aerobatic sequences in his RV7, followed by the Raptor RVs led by Nigel Hopkins who also led Team Extreme flying his Extra 330, joining him was Jason Beamish in his new Extra 330, Mark ‘Buggs’ Hensman in his MX2 and Mark ‘Sammy ‘Sampson in his Sbach in new colours. The Goodyear Eagles flew the high energy aerobatic display led by Glen Warden, he also flew the only jet display for the day in the Rand Airport based L29 ZU-AUX.The ex Soviet jet trainer brought much joy to the jet fans at the show. The Puma Flying Lions Harvard’s flew their sequence with their second final show of the day ending with a great wall of fire. Gary Whitecross flew his Pilatus B4 Glider, one of the best glider display one can see at an airshow in Africa.

Conrad Botha RV7
Raptors RVs and MX2
Team Extreme
WesBank Botswana International Air Show 2019
Goodyear Eagles Pitts S2B
Goodyear Eagles Pitts S2Bs
WesBank Botswana International Air Show 2019
L29 ZU-AUX flown by Glen Warden
L29 ZU-AUX flown by Glen Warden

Andrew Blackwood-Murray flew his Nashua Extra 300 solo display, A gyrocopter display was also flown and a entertaining show to watch as the magni gyrocopter flown by Andre van Zyl was put through its paces. Menno Parsons brought both hisP51 Mustang, Pilatus PC12 and Tiger Huey.All aircraft are such a treat to see fly, the Huey also dropped a car in show center, “remember don’t park your car where it shouldn’t be at an airshow”.the air boss will move it!

Nashua Extra 300
Magni Gyro
P51D Mustang
Pilatus PC12
Tiger Huey
WesBank Botswana International Air Show 2019
Huey Car drop
WesBank Botswana International Air Show 2019
WesBank Botswana International Air Show 2019

Helicopter displays included Alister Brown flying the Netstar Bell 407, a Bell 505 made its Southern African Airshow Debut. Juba Jourbert flew a fantastic display in the Aerospatiale Gazelle 341. Two Krugersdorp based North American Navions flew close formation in a flat show with smoke added to their display. Danie Terblanche flew the crazy pilot display in the Aviant Husky which had some of the crowd worried with the state of his crazy flying, Which is all part of the act. Dennis Spence led the decathlon display with basic aerobatic sequences. True North Aviation Turbo Thrush
demonstrated fire fighting capabilities as well as crop spraying capabilities. We wont forget some of the great RC flying that was also shown in-between displays.

Bell 407
Bell 505
Aerospatiale Gazelle
North American Navions
Aviant Husky
WesBank Botswana International Air Show 2019
Decathlon Formation
Turbo Thrush
RC Extra

With another safe show hosted at the Matsieng flying club under the AirBoss of Chris Briers and safety direct Colonel Francois ‘Hose’ Hanekom. All 43 acts gave the crowds a day to be remebered.We would like to thanks all the oragisers Wesbank,De Wet Drilling,Matsieng Flying Club, Mark Mansfield our media liaison officer and the Town Lodge.
Till next year Matsieng, Well done to all.

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The Flying Lions, Arnie’s Love story

The flying Lions, Arnie’s Love story

Arnie Meneghelli

The dream of one day owning a Harvard, (or Texan as it is more commonly known in its country of origin) was the product of my living and going to both primary and high school within a radius of 7 miles of Rand Airport in Germiston, South Africa.

Forty two Squadron was based at Rand Airport and in those early days of the 60’s, hundreds of Harvard’s were flown into Rand Airport, serviced and then test flown overhead the field. During those early formative years the seed of one day flying a Harvard was planted.

The chance to fulfill this dream came when the South African Air force decided to sell its large fleet of Harvard Trainers in 1994. We put in a tender and were awarded the first Harvard.

Two more Harvards followed within the next few years. We shared the hangar where Scully Levin kept his Pitts Specials. Not only is Scully a formidable formation and aerobatic pilot, he is also a person who is always ready to help a fellow pilot. It did not take long for the idea of a formation aerobatic team flying harvards to pop up. One thing led to another and the Flying Lions Aerobatic Formation Team was born.

The choice of pilots was most important. We had to have aerobatic formation pilots who fitted the bill as far as the flying went, but more important to consist of pilots who shared the same mental attitude or culture, discipline and passion.

The current pilots that were flying in Scully’s Shurlok Pitts Special Aerobatic Formation Team were ideal – I, in fact was the odd man out! So my training started in earnest and we eventually did our first display on the

4TH December 1999 at Kitty Hawk.

The quest for sponsors then began. We realized we were onto something good here. Harvards are noisy, large, they present well, and they have a nostalgic element about them with the South African public. Unfortunately, they also gulp fuel at an alarming rate!

Our expenses were rising and our pockets were emptying!

The brushware company, which I owned in those days, Academy Brushware (Pty) Ltd was the first obvious choice to support our team, but the burden was a heavy one.

Our next stroke of luck came when Peugeot started co-sponsoring our three-ship team on 1 March 2000.

In January 2001 BP fuels with their subsidiary Castrol became part sponsors with Peugeot and Academy Brushware. Later that year, they allowed us to negotiate a sponsorship with Nissan who were interested in giving us an overall sponsorship for the Harvards with full Nissan livery and no other branding.

This happened in January 2002, Nissan SA approached Peugeot and BP and took over their portion of the sponsorship, and in the meantime we had acquired another two Harvards.

This sponsorship lasted four and a half years and was a most successful one for both parties.

BP Ultimate with its subsidiary Castrol then regained full sponsorship of the Flying lions and this lasted until 2010. Our association with BP was in actual fact the longest even though it was intermittent but had lasted from January 2001 up until August 2010, approximately nine years.

In August 2010 we entered into a temporary sponsorship agreement with Cell C and were flying the Cell C 4G logo around the country.

This was a short term sponsorship which lasted for just over a year.

Then in the 2012 Eqstra took over the sponsorship and we ran for four years giving them a large amount of advertising for their brand and ending the sponsorship when they unbundled the company in 2016.

 

We then operated for a year and a half without sponsors keeping the aircraft flying with our own funds and engaging every potential sponsor, until, in December 2016, we did a display at a private lodge in the Skeerpoort valley and Puma Energy was there and were enthralled by what they saw.

The rest is history and we are now the Puma Flying Lions and have a magnificent relationship with Puma Energy. It is a forward thinking company that concentrates on high quality fuels and the manufacture, storage and distribution thereof. They are involved in the community which they serve not only at ground roots level but also in the environmental aspect where they sponsor the Race for Rhinos and Rhino 911 operations that take care of traumatized and orphan rhinos during anti-poaching operations.

The team displays a four ship formation choreography of loops in Vic, in line abreast and in line astern ,with barrel rolls and straight rolls while trailing smoke which is nontoxic oil burning in the aircraft’s exhausts. They are well known for their precision formation flying and their magnificent night display.

 

The Flying Lions Aerobatic Formation Team has successfully dovetailed vintage aircraft, formation aerobatics and marketing to the benefit of all. And what keeps this all together and ticking is the passion of the pilots and the people behind the scenes that form part of a larger team.

Arnie Meneghelli

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