Category Archives: Pilots and Aircraft

TU-160 Strategic Bombers Land at AFB Waterkloof

A pair of TU-150 Blackjack variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bombers landed at Airforce Base Waterkloof yesterday afternoon after a 13 hour flight from Engels Air Force Base which is strategic bomber military airbase in Russia located 14 kilometres east of Saratov.

TU-160 Blackjack on final approach into Waterkloof Airforce Base

The aircraft were originally scheduled to arrive in South Africa on 22 October but were delayed by 24 hours due to technical issues. The aircraft finally departed for a 11 000 kilometres non-stop to journey to South Africa.

The aircraft routed down the East coast of Africa, with the help of some Aerial Refueling from a Russian Airforce IL78 Tanker over the Caspian Sea. The historical visit if the bombers landing at Waterkloof South Africa is part of developing bilateral military cooperation and work out issues of interaction between the Russian Aerospace Forces and the South African Airforce.

The Bombers were escorted from Durban with 3 Hawk Mk120s from 85 Combat Flying School while two 2 Squadron Gripens conducted a Combat Air patrol during the flight into Airforce Base Waterkloof.

85 Combat Flying School Hawk Mk120s escorting one of two TU160s
85 Combat Flying School Hawk Mk120s
2 Squadron JAS39D Gripen

The SAAF’s deputy chief, Major General Innocent Buthelezi, said on Wednesday it was a privilege to host the Russian aircraft especially as it was the first time such bombers have landed in Africa. He said the visit was part of military-to-military cooperation between Russia and South Africa and looked forward to strengthening relations between the two defence forces.

Siphiwe Dlamini, Department of Defence head of communications, said the Russian visit had been planned long ago and is part of the bilateral defence ties between South Africa and the Russian Federation. He added that South Africa has had exercises with the Russian Navy and competed in Russia’s Army Games, whilst South Africa has military personnel training in Russia. In late November, Russia, China and South Africa will take part in a joint naval exercise in South Africa. Dlamini said the Russian Air Force visit has been in the making for the last five to eight years.

Department of Defence head of communications, Siphiwe Dlamini

The aircraft are due to depart back to Russia on Monday 28th October 2019.Please feel free to keep an eye out on our Facebook page for updates of the aircrafts movements.

Click to enlarge photos

Pegasus Universal Aerospace Signs MoU With Callen-Lenz Group

Pegasus Universal Aerospace signs MoU with Callen-Lenz Group as partner for flight control systems development.

Veteran aviator Captain Andrew Dietrich appointed as Chief Pilot

South Africa’s Pegasus Universal Aerospace, pioneer of the Vertical Business Jet (VBJ®) Pegasus One, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UK-based, technical aviation consultancy, Callen-Lenz Group. The agreement brings the two companies together to exclusively collaborate on the design and development of the flight control systems for the Pegasus One aircraft.

The flight control systems are integral to supporting the aircraft operations in all phases of flight, including transition from vertical take-off and hover, to forward horizontal flight. The merging of these functions, into one unique system, will be a key technology, enabling Pegasus One to deliver its powerful performance capabilities. Pegasus selected Callen-Lenz as its development partner owing to the team’s reputation for creating innovative solutions, required core competencies and experience, in realising complex technologies in the aerospace sector.

Dr Reza Mia, Pegasus founder and Chairman said, “We believe that Callen-Lenz is the ideal partner for Pegasus. Their inventive approach to aerospace challenges, their expertise, and their willingness to embark on this exciting journey with us to deliver a unique proposition determined our selection process. We are excited to be working on this game changing project with them.”  

“We have been invited to work with a number of new aircraft programmes, but were extremely impressed by the ambition, vision and quality of the Pegasus VBJ project. As the race hots up to deliver new aircraft technologies, we are pleased to join forces with one of the most exciting airframes in development,” said Jonathan Webber, CEO, Callen-Lenz.

The Pegasus team has already made great strides over the past year in developing multiple scale models, completing comprehensive studies into the drivetrain and thrust fan systems to support a true hybrid-electric propulsion power source. Pegasus is in ongoing discussions with two leading powerplant OEM’s to ensure the best performance capability is achieved.

The signing of the MOU with Callen-Lenz Group ushers in the next significant phase in the programme. Under the terms of the MOU the Callen-Lenz team will work closely with the Pegasus executive team, engineers and newly appointed chief pilot Captain Andrew Dietrich, whose appointment was also confirmed in August. Captain Dietrich joins the expanding Pegasus team with some 16,000 hours flying time spanning a 26-year career operating ultra-long-range commercial airliners and corporate jets. Familiar with numerous flight-decks, working with a variety of avionics systems and aircraft simulators, Captain Dietrich brings valuable knowledge to Pegasus. Reporting directly to the executive team, his hands-on experience will deliver vital input to the aircraft operational capability, performance and safety requirements.

As an integral part of the Pegasus technical team he will work alongside Callen-Lenz and Pegasus Chief Engineer Matthew Buttle and be responsible for overseeing compliance, safety procedures and the co-ordination of test pilots during the official test flight phase.

“We want to build an aircraft that pilots know is responsive, safe, reliable, efficient and above all fun and straight forward to fly. Captain Dietrich will help us achieve these goals and more. We are excited to add his extensive skills and enthusiasm to our team,” commented Dr Reza Mia.  

“I’m aware there are many eVTOL projects in development, but I wanted to work with the dynamic Pegasus team. The concept is brilliant, the team is solid, and I believe it will make a dramatic difference to the way executives and high-net-worth individuals think about flight in the future. There is also huge potential in the oil and gas platform, (OGP) sector. Being involved with the Pegasus project allows me to use all my accumulated experience on one of the most exciting new and innovative aircraft programmes on the market, it’s a superb opportunity,” added Captain Dietrich.

Construction of a full-scale VTOL demonstrator to show in Europe in 2020 has already begun and a series of investor evenings in South Africa starts this month.

The MoU with the Callen-Lenz Group and the appointment of Captain Dietrich will ensure Pegasus development continues on the right trajectory.

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P51D “Mustang Sally” To Return to SAAF Museum Airshow

Well known businessman and airshow display pilot Menno Parsons will be bringing his P51D Mustang to this years SAAF Museum Airshow on the 7th September 2019,at Airforce Base Swartkop in the city of Tshwane.

Days remaining the 2019 Swartkop airshow!

The P51D “Mustang Sally” is the only type of its kind airworthy in South Africa, this attractive looking warbird last flew at the SAAF Museum Airshow in 2015.

P51D ‘Mustang Sally’

The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is an American long-range, dual-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War, among other conflicts. The Mustang was designed in 1940 by North American Aviation in response to a requirement of the British Purchasing Commission.

The theme for the 2019 Airshow is “Collective Heritage” Tickets will be on sale via Computicket.
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.

More information of the SAAF Museum Airshow will follow soon. Remember this will be the only airshow in the Pretoria, Johannesburg region this year!

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Ticket Prices for the SAAF Museum Airshow 7th September 2019

Venue- AFB Swartkop,City of Tshwane

R80 (Adults)

R30 Age groups between (12 -16)

Under 12 free

Tickets available at Computicket

We Fly the C130B -Botswana Defence Force

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed. Now known as Lockheed Martin, which is capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medevac, and cargo transport aircraft.

The Botswana Defence Force received their first of three C130 B models in the late 90s as their medium transport resource.The last C130 which was . The latest addition to the transport fleet was an ex-AMARC C-130 Hercules to complement the two existing aircraft. The C130s belong to the Z10 Transport Squadron, made up of the Lockheed C-130, Casa 212 and CN235 – Maparangwane Air Base (Thebephatshwa/Molepolole in Botswana.

The C-130B model was developed to complement the A-models that had previously been delivered, and incorporated new features, particularly increased fuel capacity in the form of auxiliary tanks built into the center wing section and an AC electrical system. Four-bladed Hamilton Standard propellers replaced the Aero products three-blade propellers that distinguished the earlier A-models. The C-130B had ailerons with boost increased from 2,050 psi (14.1 MPa) to 3,000 psi (21 Mpa), as well as uprated engines and four-blade propellers that were standard until the J-model’s introduction.

An electronic reconnaissance variant of the C-130B was designated C-130B-II. A total of 13 aircraft were converted. The C-130B-II was distinguished by its false external wing fuel tanks, which were disguised signals intelligence (SIGINT) receiver antennas. These pods were slightly larger than the standard wing tanks found on other C-130Bs. Most aircraft featured a swept blade antenna on the upper fuselage, as well as extra wire antennas between the vertical fin and upper fuselage not found on other C-130s. Radio call numbers on the tail of these aircraft were regularly changed so as to confuse observers and disguise their true mission.

At Aviation Central we’ve had the privilege of also flying with the South African Airforce C130BZs from 28 Squadron based at Airforce Base Waterkloof in Pretoria on a number of occasions. A big thank you to the Botswana Defence Force for allowing us to join you during the 2019 Makgadikgadi Skydiving Epic in the beginning of July.

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ABSA Lowveld Airshow 2019

Some of the Aviation Central media arrived Friday afternoon from Wonderboom National Airport in Pretoria and others on Saturday morning with some validations happening before the large crowds flocked to the airfield for an airshow that has won numerous airshow awards.

The skies over the old Nelspruit airfield were once again filled with aerobatic display teams, vintage aircraft, helicopters, jets and jet airliners to name a few. This years show had a different twist of the program with the theme fast and furious, the show started in the afternoon and had no repeats of display acts during the course of the afternoon with airboss Johan Heine keeping a watchful eye on display teams.

Ramp Controller Frank Smook

Capitals Sounds Brian Emmenis and his team provided commentary in between the battle of the DJs with Jacaranda who partnered up with airshow Organisers Kishugu and sponsor Absa for a different vibe to the Lowveld airshow during display acts. Before the airshow started, the Lowveld Model Aircraft Club (LOMAC) provided remote control (RC) aircraft displays with their different scales of aircraft in their club, For new photographers to Aviation, its a good learning curve to capture Rc aircraft.

The show opened with BMW Motorcycles revving down the runway, just before a paradrop with different member’s of the skydiving community on the airshow scene, their jump ship was ‘Little Annie’ an Antonov two flown by Jon-Marc Hill and Colonel Keith Fryer. The An2 also led the vintage formation and dropped a large amount of marshmallows for
children aspiring to be pilots one day. The Yak18T which was also flown in the formation by spotter pilot, Riaan Prinsloo. Comair Boeing 737 Captain Ivan van der Schaar flew his Randolph sponsored Boeing Stearman. Danie Terblanche flew the ‘crazy pilot display’ in the well known STOL capability Husky.

BMW Motorcycles
Big South African Flag carried by Ralph Ridge
Vintage Aircraft Formation

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) as well as South African National Parks put together A mock battle with poachers and members of the SANDF coming into contact with each other a patrol. The put on act just shows what happens on a daily occurrence in the Kruger National Park and South Africa’s borders. The South African Airforce was unfortunately not present at this years show, due to the countries inauguration taking place on the 25th May later this month. Air Force Base Hoedspruit exhibited some of the SAAFs duties in the form of life boats, dummy bombs, etc in one of the hangers.

A total of five Extra 300 series aircraft were at the airshow, Nashua sponsored Andrew Blackwood Murray flew his solo display in his Extra 300LP. Arnie Meneghelli and Ellis Levin flew the first double inverted ribbon cut in the world at an airshow. Team Extreme had both Nigel Hopkins in his Extra 330 and Jason Beamish in his new Extra 330, they joined up with Mark Sampson in his newly painted Sbach and Mark Hensman in his MX2 for the full Team Extreme display. The Raptor RVs with the new number five Johan von Solms completing his first display.

Double inverted Ribbon Cut
Nashua Extra 300LP
Team Extreme

Two Pitts Special display teams flew their usual routine,The Cows put up a threeship with Captain Scully Levins daughter Sally Bates flying one of the aircraft,not many women airshow display pilots on the airshow scene. Nigel Hopkins led the Goodyear Eagles sponsored Pitts Specials with Johan von Solms and Jason Beamish. A light aircraft display consisted of two Bathawks and two Kitfox’s showed the short takeoff capability’s and a asset in the bushveld area.

Cows Pitts S2C
Goodyear Eagles Pitts
Bathawk
Kitfox

Jet display’s by a L39 ZU-IBN owned by Middelburg’s Richard Lovett and flown by Pierre Gouws joined up with Mike Weingartz in the Impala MK1 ZU-IMP. The Airlink Embraer E190, flew a beautiful tight display. Airlink have displayed at most Nelspruit airshows now, and the E190 is definitely a crowd favourite.

L39 & Impala MK1
Embraer 190

Helicopter displays included a Gazelle flown by Juba Jourbert who raced to Jaguar cars, he also joined up with a Airbus Helicopters H125,Bell Huey and a Enstrom. We don’t often see such choppers in a display like we did. It was like a licorice all sorts formation. Three Working on Fire Hueys flew a sunset display with the use of two bambi buckets throwing water in show centre. The Flying Lions ended the display flying with a sunset show mixed with pyrotechnics to end another safe airshow.

Gazelle flown by Juba Jourbert
Airbus Helicopters H125,Bell Huey and a Enstrom.
Working on Fire Hueys

We would like to thanks Monica Fourie, Naranda Leeuwener and the rest of Kishugu for taking the time to keep the media up to date with the show months before. Also big thank you to StayEasy Emnotweni, Nelspruit for the wonderful accommodation!
Till next year, Thanks Nelspruit for the support!

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Mango Introduces Split Scimitar Winglets

We were kindly invited by Mango’s Grant Timms to witness the first test flight as Mango (One of South Africa’s low cost airline) introduced the first of eight aircraft that will have the Split Scimitar Winglets fitted to their fleet.

In what will be its first widespread commercial use, Split Scimitar Winglets have officially been giving the go-ahead to grace Boeing 737-800s all across the world. While winglets themselves are nothing new, this more aerodynamic incarnation should cut fuel costs by 2%—in other words, pushing their total winglet-related savings to $200 million.

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Training Captain Rodney Chinn &Training Captain Danie Jacobs before the test flight

Inspired by the scimitar, the new winglets retrofit a blended ventral fin to the plane’s wings, essentially making it look like two very thin (and presumably self-loathing) dolphins jammed themselves head first into either side of the plane. Because it makes use of both the split/ventral singlet design and the high-performance scimitar tips, United has managed a cruise performance gain of 30-40%. So how do these winglets manage to reduce so much drag?


Because winglets curve upward, the higher air pressure on the wing’s lower surface flows toward the tip and curls with the winglet. Since the air is pushed upward, this reduces the vortex and subsequent energy loss that is created by air flowing around the wingtip. The split design of the new ones, then, further reduce the vortices formed behind the wing, which in turn further reduces energy loss.

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Mercedes Day-Brakpan Airfield

A different type of fraternity, The Mercedes Benz club of South Africa, get together every year with the last event taking place at Brakpan Airfield. The same venue under the Brakpan Aero Club Members including organiser Hilton Wolff and many other role players put together a day which many visitors of the day wont forget for years to come.

Hilton Wolff, Marcus Goldring and other Mercedes Benz members.


The history of Mercedes-Benz in South Africa by far outstretches the history of the marque’s club here. Although the enthusiasm, interest and involvement of “fans” of the marque throughout its history, this cannot be denied and underplayed, it was not until the late 1970’s that this was harnessed and organised into the beginnings of the Mercedes-Benz Club.

Lucky Mercedes Benz club member with one of the prizes that were won on the day.

The purpose of the day, was to give members of the club, a taste of flight in small aircraft, and not just any aircraft but some unique and modern flying machines. With vintage era up to the modern Mercedes vehicles parked in the vicinity of the club house, both aircraft and car enthusiasts were in their element.

‘Little Annie’ AN2 Taking another load of happy passengers for a flight.
ZS-DFK

Grant Timms flew in a Rand Airport based Harvard ‘7526’ which belongs to John Wright, the aircraft was a major draw card as its not to often to see a Harvard at Brakpan Airfield. It made a excellent photo opportunity as some Mercedes Benz photo bombed the aircraft.

Grant Timms and his Happy Pax
Harvard ‘7526’

Very well known helicopter pilots at Brakpan airfield Rob Osner and Charles Fuller flew both an Alouette II and III. Nothing like flying in ex air force helicopters and flying over the once rich mining areas of the east rand of Johannesburg.

Alouette III Pilot Rob Osner and his ground crew Willie Schutte
zu-rec
Alouette II and III
Charles Fuller’s Alouette II

Other aircraft that gave flips, namely the Cessna Grand Caravan flown by Frederick Kotzee, Dornier Do 27 flown by Rodney Benn,An2 ‘Little Annie’ flown by Jon-Marc Hill. A Piaggio Albatross,Cessna 210 and many more!

ZS-DFK
Cessna Grand Caravan
Dornier DO-27
AN2 ‘Little Annie’
Piaggio Albatross
ZS-MFI
Cessna 210

At non airshow type events its always crucial to have safety as your main priority, Both Colonel Keith Fryer and Colonel Keith Andrews from the South African Airforce kept all flights as well as the ramp safe and running smoothly during the course of the day.

Colonel Keith Fryer helping disembark passengers from Charles Fuller’s Alouette II.
Colonel Keith Andrews keeping an eye as Ramp Controller.
AN2 & Caravan Formation

The Brakpan Aero Club welcomed guests with muffins and coffee and provided boerewors rolls and Hamburgers for the rest. Local flight schools and Mercedes Benz dealership also provided excellent offerings of their latest deals on both pilots licences and car purchase deals.

Piper Colt getting airborne
Little Annie AN2 with some company.

Well done Hilton Wolff and the Mercedes Benz Club Members as well as all the pilots and ground crew who made the event possible and safe. We look forward to the 2020 edition of the event.

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Rasesa ready for takeoff- WesBank Botswana International Airshow

The WesBank Botswana International Airshow is almost ready for takeoff to give the people of Botswana and other international visitors a day of spectacular aerobatic sequences from both old and new aircraft.


Matsieng Airfield (ICAO: FBMA) is a new Airfield which has been around since 2011. The airfield is located near Rasesa, 44 kilometres north of Gaborone Botswana.

The highlight for some is definitely the fly-in experience where pilots fly-in for the weekend and camp under the wing of their aircraft or even camp in the set up tent area where ablution blocks are available as well as log fires, that are made available for braai packs and other needed necessities during the weekend.

Aircraft that will be making a welcome back appearance will be the only airworthy P51 Mustang in Southern Africa, owned and flown by Master Power Technologies Menno Parsons. He will also have his Bell 407.Other helicopters that will be displayed will be the NAC Bell 430 flown by Alister Brown. Team Extreme will be making their full team debut made up of Nigel Hopkins in his Extra 330,Jason Beamish in his brand new Extra 330,Mark Hensman in his MX2 and finally Mark Sampson in his Sbach. Other favourites will be the L29 and L39 Jet trainers, AN2 ‘Little Annie’ Harvard’s ,Pitts Special teams and many other aircraft. Program to be posted soon!

P51D Mustang
Bell 407
Bell 430
Team Extreme
Jason Beamish”s new Extra 330

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Entrance gates: Gate 1 (on site map)https://www.botswana-airshow.com/index.php/info/maps

Gates open: Saturday from 9:00 to 16:00
Air Show ends: 17:00

Entrance fees: P120 per adult; P60 per child (6-17 years); Under 6 years – free if accompanied by paying adults.

Tickets available at the following PUMA outlets

·         PILANE

·         PHAKALANE

·         BBS

·         RAILPARK

·         TLOKWENG

·         FAIRGROUNDS

·         PULA SPAR

·         GRAND PALM

·         KGALE VIEW

·         TLOKWENG EXPLOSION

·         FRANCISTOWN

·         MAHALAPYE

·         PALAPYE

·         MOLEPOLOLE

·         KANYE

·         Also available from PHARMA LULU @ Westgate Mall

IMPORTANT NOTICE

  • No food or beverages will be allowed through the gates.
  • Empty cooler bags will be allowed through the gates.
  • No picnic or recreation of any sort will be allowed in the parking area.
  • No buses exceeding 8 people seated.
  • No admission will be granted without a valid entry ticket or permit.
  • The public shall enter and use the parking area as well as the premises at their own risk and the organisers and the owners of the premises cannot accept liability for any loss or injury to any person or property.
  • Any form of misbehaviour or criminal activity will be handed over to the members of the Botswana Police Service.
  • The public may not enter any fenced off zone allocated to aeroplanes and other vehicles. Trespassers will be escorted off the premises immediately without refund of any kind.
  • Members of the public are strictly not allowed to access the Hospitality tent area.

Us at Aviation Central cant wait to share a fantastic day with the people of Botswana in the next couple of weeks, we sure are super excited. Keep an eye on our social media pages and website for more updates to follow!

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BOAC -It is 3 out of 3 for South Africa!

It is 3 out of 3 for South Africa!

TodMonday 29 April 2019 the third B747 painted in a retro livery, as part of BA’s 100th birthday, touched down with a puff of smoke in Johannesburg at 08:53. Cape Town have been spoilt by receiving two of these, the Negus and Landor liveries, but Johannesburg was the envy of aviation enthusiasts.

G-BYGC where scheduled to land in Johannesburg on Sunday but as things happen, this was changed to today. G-BYGC was went into the paint shop on 18 February 2019 and was unveiled to the world on the same day. She mostly visited the USA but as BA implemented their summer schedule, aviation enthusiasts became excited and hoping that G-BYGC appears on Johannesburg schedules.

G-BYGC is 20 old, is a B747-436 with serial number 25823. Our Negus arrival coverage can be seen here https://tinyurl.com/y2owgawt and our Landor arrival coverage can be seen here https://tinyurl.com/y6m5rwj2 It took some time for us to see the BOAC here in South Africa but it was worth the wait. Hoping for many more visits!

3 x Below Photo credit: Christopher R. Lourens

3 x Below Photo credit: Niel Swart

Click on Photos to enlarge

L29 ZU-VLL relocates to Tempe Bloemfontein

L29 ZU-VLL has now changed ownership, and will now grace the skies over Tempe Bloemfontein, where th former soviet jet trainer will now reside.We hope to see this particular L29 at airshows more often and hopefully even join in formation with Rand Airport based L29 ZU-AUX and Middelburg based L29 ZU-DNX at a future airshow. South Africa is definitely has the richest aviation heritage on the African continent

We been privileged enough to have seen some of these ex military jet trainers flying in our skies. It seems these sights and sounds are becoming fewer and fewer.

L29 ZU-VLL safe at Tempe Airfield after a ferry from Durban
(Picture by Flightdeck Instrument Systems CC)
L29 at here new home Tempe airfield Bloemfontein
(Picture by Flightdeck Instrument Systems CC)

The Aero L29 Delfin-The Soviet Trainer(English: Dolphin, NATO reporting name: Maya) is a military jet trainer developed and manufactured by Czechoslovakian aviation manufacturer Aero Vodochody. The jet trainer is a dual seat training aircraft. It is the country’s first locally designed and constructed jet aircraft, as well as likely being the biggest aircraft industrial programme to take place in any of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance  countries except the Soviet Union.

Larry Beamish takes off in ZU-VLL Newcastle Airshow 2013
L29 ZU-VLL Cockpit
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