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Spectacular Skies: SAAF Museum Airshow 2024 Thrills and Amazes!

The recent SAAF Museum Airshow 2024 proved to be an exceptional event, showcasing a seamless blend of meticulous organization, diverse and outstanding displays, and continuous entertainment, making it one of the finest airshows the museum has ever presented.

People lined up from very early in the morning, and as they entered the gates at the Mobile Deployment Wing Swartkop (Old Air Force Base Swartkop), they were greeted by an early morning sky dotted with powered paragliders, with keen aviation enthusiast’s spotting an Ilyushin IL-76 taking off from Waterkloof Airforce Base in the background.

The day commenced with the traditional parade of emergency services down the main taxiway, setting the stage for the event. Brigadier General Donavan Chetty officially welcomed the Chief of the Air Force, Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo. Following a scripture reading and prayer, Lt. Gen. Mbambo emphasized the need for the SAAF to embrace the “Space Age.” His speech was complemented by a dramatic skydiving display from the Police Task Force, who landed skillfully behind the podium, adding to the moment.

The airshow officially opened with a thrilling display by the SAAF Museum. A SAAF Museum Bosbok, Cessna C185, and two Harvards crossing over a Puma, two Alouette IIIs, and an Alouette II, showcased exceptional piloting skills, setting a high standard for the rest of the event.

The Harvards, piloted by Martin “Marlow” Louw and Daan “Spur” Conradie, continued with an impressive display.

This was followed by Lieutenant Colonel Scott “Prowler” Logie in the BAE Hawk Mk.120 from 85 Combat Flying School, who delivered a stunning performance demonstrating the jet’s capabilities.

Andre van Zyl in his Magni M16C Gyro and Johann “Juba” Joubert in a privately-owned Alouette III displayed their remarkable skills, further adding to the day’s highlights.

Andrew Blackwood-Murray’s high-energy performance in his Nashua-sponsored Extra 300LP captivated the audience.

A standout was the unusual three-ship formation of two Alouette IIIs flanking a Cessna 185 by the SAAF Museum, demonstrating a remarkable blend of rotor and fixed-wing aircraft in formation flight.

The solo display by Major Morolong in the Silver Falcons Pilatus PC-7 and the agility of the Agusta A-109 from 17 Squadron at AFB Swartkops highlighted the SAAF’s versatile fleet.

The Classic Flying Collection’s de Havilland DH82 Tiger Moths, flown by Grant Timms and Ryan Briggs, delivered a graceful formation display, celebrating SAAF’s rich history.

The SAAF Museum’s dynamic formation of two Harvards and a Puma, the North American Navions’ display by Mike George and Reyno Coetzer, and Tristan Eeles’ high-energy aerobatics in the Extra 330SC were all crowd favorites.

The Hired Gun Pitts Specials, piloted by Ellis Levin, Arnie Meneghelli, and Sean Thackwray, showcased exceptional aerobatics and formation flying. Captain Flippie Vermeulen’s Beechcraft Model 18 display brought nostalgia from the golden age of flying

The “Mini War” display was a dramatic re-enactment of SAAF and SAPS capabilities, including a simulated cargo drop, enemy engagement, and rescue operations, all narrated by Capt Jacques de Vries, Capt Richard “Omega” Dixon, and Capt Jean-Pierre “Nitro” Poisat.

The scenario commenced with a SAAF Casa 212 executing a vital cargo drop, only to face hostile fire from enemy forces that brought down the aircraft. Swiftly, an Agusta A-109 was deployed as a strategic coordination platform, orchestrating the response. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the crew summoned the SAPS Special Task Force to parachute in and support the downed pilot, yet the adversary remained formidable.

In a decisive move, the Hawks were mobilized, unleashing a barrage of cannon fire and strategically placed simulated bombs by the adept SA Army engineers, effectively suppressing the hostile threat. The pivotal moment arrived when a pair of MBB-Kawasaki BK-117s from 15 Squadron Charlie Flight, piloted by the skilled Maj Bertie “Beetle” Fourie with Flight Sgt Letladi Mahlakwana and Maj Ross “Pacer” Cameron with Sgt Carl van Dalen, swooped in to airlift the pilot to safety.

The audience, deeply engaged by the intense and dynamic sequence of events, responded with fervor, their excitement heightened by the resounding explosions that punctuated the display. Such gripping scenarios not only showcase the exceptional skill and coordination of our forces but also captivate and thrill spectators, leaving a lasting impression of the prowess and precision of our armed services.

Following the intense action, the pace eased as a three-ship de Havilland Chipmunk display took to the skies. Piloted by Rodney Chinn, Ryan Briggs, and Grant Timms, these meticulously restored Chipmunks delivered a mesmerizing demonstration of formation flying. The graceful and seamless maneuvers of these vintage aircraft offered a serene contrast, captivating the audience with their elegance and precision.

The SAAF Museum astounded spectators with a display of unparalleled precision and coordination as they executed a breathtaking aerial ballet featuring a Puma and two Alouette III helicopters. The sight of these helicopters operating in such close proximity is a rare spectacle, making the synchronized performance all the more remarkable and captivating. Spectators were treated to a display of skill and mastery rarely seen, leaving them in awe of the pilots’ expertise and the helicopters’ graceful maneuvers.

The South African Air Force has a rich history of active participation in numerous conflicts, including the Korean War, during which SAAF 2 Squadron famously deployed the North American P51 in combat. Menno Parsons paid homage to this historic period with a captivating display of his P-51 “Mustang Sally”. Despite never having seen combat, this iconic aircraft, which celebrates its 80th anniversary later this year, gained fame for its role in the movie “Patton” and its participation in the prestigious Reno Air Races during the early 1980s.

Next up, Paramount’s Mwari showcased the ongoing spirit of innovation within the South African aviation industry. This two-seat, tandem cockpit aircraft features a high-wing design and twin-boom configuration, hinting at its considerable potential for the future. The aircraft was expertly maneuvered, demonstrating its impressive agility and versatility to the enthralled crowd.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) delivered an impressive showcase of their response capabilities. A Pilatus PC-6 Porter executed a flawless drop of three Special Task Force members, who executed pinpoint accurate landings amidst the smoke and action on the ground. They were then skillfully picked up by Tillanie Neethling, expertly piloting one of the brand new Airbus H125 Squirrel Helicopters. The thrilling display, featuring task force members hanging onto the side of the helicopter as it weaved through smoke and stun grenades, was undoubtedly a crowd pleaser!

The following display, featuring two SAAF MBB BK-117 helicopters from 15 Squadron Charlie Flight, left the crowd in awe. Piloted by Maj Corrie “Serrano” Oberholzer with Maj Bertie “Beetle” Fourie, and Lt Col Jared “Gizmo” Oliver with Sgt Carl van Dalen, their performance was nothing short of unforgettable. From their synchronized spiral climb and daring vertical handstands to maneuvers that seemed to defy gravity, the skill and precision required to execute such maneuvers are truly remarkable. A commendable performance by 15 Squadron Charlie Flight!

Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish, supported by their new sponsor Master Power Technologies, elevated the excitement with their performance in the Extra 300s. Their breathtaking maneuvers, incredibly tight formation flying, and high-energy aerobatics thrilled the crowd, showcasing not only the capabilities of these exceptional aerobatic aircraft but also the extraordinary skill of the pilots.

The SAAF Museum’s hoisting demonstration with the Puma, followed by Juba Joubert’s skilled display in the Aerospatiale SA-341 “Gazelle” continued to keep the crowd captivated.

Grant Timms took to the skies in the Aero L-29 Delfín, a Soviet-era trainer, delivering a beautiful and graceful display of this remarkable jet. Owned by Richardt Lovett, the aircraft is adorned with a stunning livery depicting an American Bald Eagle. The striking contrast of this amazing livery against the clear blue skies created a truly breathtaking sight.

The Goodyear Eagles have long been a familiar sight on the South African aviation scene. Piloted by Nigel Hopkins, Jason Beamish, Trevor Warner, and Johan von Solms, they continue to deliver a fast-paced performance that has captured the hearts of the crowd. Their high-energy display, featuring close formations and aerobatics, ensures that the audience is thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

The crowd was treated to the distinctive sound of the Bell Huey UH-1, as Menno Parsons showcased the agility of his Tiger Bell UH-1. With a series of maneuvers, he highlighted the capabilities of this fantastic aircraft. The Huey is renowned for its pivotal role in the Vietnam War, immortalized in numerous movies that captured the iconic sounds and sights of this helicopter.

Next up was the breathtaking formation flying of the RV Raptors team. Pierre Gouws, the team’s founder and former leader, provided commentary, captivating the crowd throughout the display. Led by Nigel Hopkins and accompanied by Dion Raath, Trevor Warner, and Johan von Solms, the team executed an incredible routine of exceptionally close formation flying.

As the sun began its descent, the Puma Energy Flying Lions took to the skies for their sunset display. With several pilots lined up for takeoff before darkness fell, they had to wait on the taxiway, enveloped in the dense smoke from the preceding Harvard display. The Harvards delivered a stunning performance, the gleaming aircraft in the setting sun creating a truly magnificent sight.

Major Morolong continued to impress with his second display in the Silver Falcons Pilatus PC-7 as the sun dipped toward the horizon. The aircraft gleamed in the sunset, enhancing the beauty of the graceful maneuvers and creating a fantastic spectacle for the audience.

As night fell, Brian Emmenis and Captain Charlene “Artemis” Buitenhuis rallied the crowd to gather close for the final display. Three Hawk Mk.120s took off into the twilight, their roaring engines reigniting the crowd’s excitement for the grand finale. The spectators were treated to a mesmerizing display by Lieutenant Colonel Scott “Prowler” Logie, who performed gracefully against the backdrop of the darkening sky, concluding with a spectacular flare display.

Prowler was soon joined by the other two Hawk Mk.120s, forming the “Hawk Formation” of three jets. They executed a dramatic break in front of the crowd, releasing flares as a massive wall of fire illuminated the night sky, bringing the show to a thrilling conclusion.

The SAAF Museum Airshow 2024 was a resounding success, thanks to the efforts of all participants, organizers, and supporting services. Special thanks to Brian Emmenis and Capital Sounds for their engaging commentary and to the SAAF Museum and Mobile Deployment Wing Swartkop for hosting a memorable day. The event showcased the skill, dedication, and excellence of the SAAF, leaving the audience with unforgettable memories.

Please enjoy the photos below, taken throughout the show and show validation days.

Rand Airshow 2023

The Grand Rand Airshow one of the very few South African airshows that takes place on a Sunday shadowed by the Johannesburg central business district making a great background for photography with aircraft added in.

After a stern safety briefing from the Rand Airport new safety manager. All the known South African Aviation media that are on the airshow circuit made their way to acceptable advantage points to capture the days flying.

Brian Emmenis from Capital Sounds and his team once again provided commentary on the show progress. A busy weekend it was for Capital Sounds as they also attended the Children’s Flight at Orient Airfield on Friday the 1st September.

Rand Airshows Flight Display Director with Rikus Erasmus and Safety director former South African Airforce Colonel Francois “Hosepipe” Hanekom.

The airshow was opened by Grant Timms flying Chris Kambouris’s OneX. This was the first of its type flying in a South African airshow.

Grant also flew the de Haviland Tiger Moth display with Rodney Chinn.
Also making up of the contingent of the Classic Flying Collection was the de Haviland Chipmunk formation of three examples flown by Rodney Chinn, Ryan Briggs and Grant Timms. This was Ryan Briggs first airshow display.

The Puma Flying Lions led by Scully Levin and the Hired Gun Pitts Specials. Making up of most of the airshow performers based at Rand Airport. Scully also put on a solo display with a Cirrus S22.

Aerobatics galore was sure a favorite ar this years show, the South Africa Sports Aerobatic club (SAC) presented a Extra 330 flown by Barrie Eels, and a Extra 300L flown by Elton Bondi.

Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish in the Extra 330 Duo, which they also joined up with Menno Parsons in both his Bell407 and P51D “Mustang Sally”.Andrew Blackwood Murray flew his Nashua Extra 300 display despite windy flying conditions.

From the rotary airshow participants, Juba Jourbert flew the Alouette II, Andre van Zyl flew the Magni Gyrocopter, Henley Air Andre Coetzee flew the Bell 230, Both Menno Parsons in his Bell 407 and Buzz Bezuidenhout in the Tiger Bell UH1 Huey.

Mike Weingartz flew Master Power Technologies L39, Mike is still got the highest number of hours on the Aermacchi MB326K Impala in the world. Oscar Goudriaan in a Jonker JS3 Rapture Turbine Sailplane provided a glider display, something quite rare on the South African airshow circuit these days.

From the Classic businessliners of the day, the beech 18 flown by Springbok Classic Air Flippie Vermulen and his son Ben put on a spirited display of the radial.

The Goodyear Eagles, also having Rand Airport as their home base for many years, flew their four ship Pitts S2B routine. The Raptors Vans RVs also put on a tight aerobatic display of the kit built aircraft.

The highlight of the day was surely the Airlink Sky bucks E195 display flown by Airlinks chief pilot, Captain Jaco Henning.

A special word of thanks goes to Airshow South Africa including Louise Hofmeyr for allowing the media to cover the event and positioning us on the airport to capture the moments. Robyn from Aviation Hub for helping handle the media accreditation, we appreciate your assistance.

Please Browse through our gallery below:

Flysafair flyover – Loftus Versfeld Stadium 8th July 2023

8th July 2023, was a collective effort of various teams (sport and aviation amongst a large number of teams involved) that went off very well. A large of planning and approvals went into it and this can be seen. If you are not sure what we are referring to… it is the FlySafair flyover at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa.

The reason for this flyover is that is was the start of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. To mark this special occasion, our friends at FlySafair did not send one but two of their B737-800’s not one but twice over Loftus. The aircraft involved were ZS-FGZ and ZS-ZWO.


Team work did indeed make dream work as the Springboks won the match against Wallabies 43-12. The entire day was an testament to working together and achieving great results… this also applied to us at Aviation Central with team members scattered over Pretoria to get the best possible angles for this historic event. This was the first time that the new FlySafair Springbok livery was on display, the first FlySafair flyover at Loftus and the first flyover that involved two FlySafair B737-800’s. During the flight/flyover ZS-ZWO was the most tracked flight in the world on Flightradar24.


There are so many people that played a role in the day, to many to mention but to each and everyone we would want to say a massive thank you. Great memories were made, new friends were made and South Africa came together as one to support the Springboks.


We just wonder if the next Qantas flight will have a squawk of 4213… (just kidding).
Please do not forget that FlySafair is running a great competition for the best photo of yesterday’s flyover. Why not give it a shot and enter?


Crews:
Captain Wouter van Ginkel
Captain Henk van den Berg
Captain Steve van der Merwe
Captain Johan von Solms
Captain Pierre Gouws
Captain Henco Vermeulen
If you missed our previous post with regards to the efforts made by FlySafair for the flyover, please visit https://t.co/ocZXBZMGxr

StrongerTogether #RSAvAUS #springboks #teamwork

A Helicopter of Hope: Bell Aircraft Helping Rocket EMS Save Lives in South Africa

Having a fully equipped aircraft couldn’t be more critical than when it comes to Helicopter
Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) missions. In many emergency scenarios, especially in
remote locations, helicopters often remain the sole method of quickly transporting patients to
hospitals. For Henley Air, the Bell 230 and Bell 222 are consistently relied on to provide vital
care to people throughout the country. Now, its mission has expanded, thanks to the
capabilities of its Bell fleet.


Henley Air has a dedicated division for HEMS operations known as Rocket EMS, serving as
a non-profit that provides medical transportation in the region. In late June, Rocket EMS
unveiled its vision for Kids Flight – an initiative designed to enable medical transportation for
children. While not an exclusive pediatric service, Henley Air wants to leverage existing
resources to pave the way for accessible EMS operations that support children and patients
in the region. Kids Flight will be managed by Rocket and Henley Air with investment from
local businesses.


To celebrate the beginning of this endeavor, Rocket EMS unveiled one of the Bell 230 air
ambulance helicopters branded in new Kids Flight livery. The design was inspired by the
ROCKET founders’ daughters canvassing their ideas – a personal family touch.
In South Africa, emergency response teams also assist in the distribution of supplies,
medicine and other forms of aid to affected areas in operations that cover large areas.
Henley Air, together with the Gift of the Givers Foundation, the largest disaster response,
non-governmental organization on the African continent, joined forces to distribute supplies
to those affected by a recent disaster.


Using Henley Air’s Bell 222 aircraft, emergency aid, including food, water and medicine, was
air dropped to hundreds of affected families in the town of Keimoes, which was affected by
severe flooding.


The Bell 222 and Bell 230 can be configured for HEMS or utility transport missions and
accommodate eight passengers on board. They have been reliable assets in the country to
support numerous transportation missions for business and emergency needs. Now, the
aircraft will be used for a new purpose with Kids Flight and save even more lives.
Bell is on its own mission to change the way the world flies – with superior vertical lift that
helps save lives, while also playing a critical role in the safety operations of those affected by
disasters across the globe.

Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics Thrills Durban Crowd

The 3rd edition of the Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics (SkyGP) took place on Friday, June 16, 2023, at Virginia Airport in Durban, marking a significant aviation event for the city. Durban had not witnessed such a large-scale aviation spectacle since 2017 when the Armed Forces Day was held in the region.

Building on the success of its previous editions, the SkyGP first debuted at the Land, Sea, and Air Festival in 2014, followed by the second edition at Greyville Racecourse in 2016. Notably, the last air show in Durban occurred as far back as 2013. This year’s event was greeted by fantastic winter weather in Durban, complemented by the fact that it coincided with a public holiday. As a result, eager crowds flocked to Virginia Airport, eagerly anticipating the breathtaking displays by the participating aircraft.

The SkyGP competition is a timed and judged event encompassing three categories: Known Sequence, Unknown Sequence, and Freestyle Sequence. The event was skillfully hosted by Dave Guselli, renowned for his work on East Coast Radio, and seasoned aerobatics pilot Mike “Spanky” Gallaway from Texas, USA. Mike expertly provided detailed commentary throughout the day, enlightening the public about the aerobatic maneuvers, timings, and aircraft information, ensuring everyone remained well-informed about the proceedings and what they could expect.

The event kicked off with a pilots parade, allowing spectators to catch a glimpse of the talented contestants. The roster of pilots for this year’s SkyGP included:

Mark Hensman – South Africa – MX2 (registration N540MX)
Aarron Deliu – Australia – sharing Nigel Hopkins’s Extra EA-330SC (registration ZS-XSC)
Eugene Du Preez – South Africa – Extra EA-330SC (registration ZS-THS)
Aude Lemordant – France – sharing Mark Hensman’s MX2 (registration N540MX)
Nigel Hopkins – South Africa – Extra EA-330SC (registration ZS-XSC)
Barrie Eeles – South Africa – Extra EA-330SC (registration ZS-XBE)
Patrick Davidson – South Africa – GameBird GB-1 (registration N71PD)

Following the pilots parade, the Durban Skydive Centre added to the excitement with thrilling displays and pinpoint landings in front of the enthralled spectators.

Tristan Eeles, who was not competing, delivered a remarkable warm-up display for the known sequence category. This display served as an opportunity for the judges to assess the aerobatic “display box” and practice scoring, while Mike Gallaway guided the crowd through the sequence, explaining the maneuvers and the scoring and timing systems. Tristan’s almost flawless sequence display highlighted his potential as an upcoming aerobatics pilot, making him one to watch in the future.

The known sequence category commenced with the participating contestants flying in the order determined by a pre-event draw. Pilots had prior knowledge of the sequence, allowing them time to practice it. However, they were required to complete the sequence within a time frame of 2 minutes and 45 seconds to 3 minutes to avoid penalties. Each maneuver was meticulously judged, contributing to the contestants’ overall score.

Unfortunately, Aude Lemordant’s disqualification in the known sequence category resulted from a mistake during one of her maneuvers, causing her to cross the safety “deadline” between the display box and spectators. The deadline ensures ample space and safeguards for both the participants and the audience.

As some pilots shared aircraft, intermissions were filled with Cliff Chen’s captivating display. Cliff, a South African and world RC champion, showcased the capabilities of a Radio Controlled Slick 580, leaving the crowd gasping and cheering as he performed remarkable maneuvers that pushed the limits of what the R/C aircraft is capable of.

The unknown sequence category followed, with the pilots flying in the same predetermined order. Unlike the known sequence, the pilots were provided with the sequence on the evening prior to the event, allowing them time to study it but leaving no room for practice. Judging and timing were carried out similarly to the known sequence category.

During the lunch break, the skydivers treated the crowd to another thrilling display, while the NetCare 911 helicopter’s departure to attend to an emergency presented an opportunity for spectators to witness the takeoff of the Bell 430 helicopter.

After the break, the remaining pilots showcased their skills in the unknown sequence category. Each pilot strived to outperform the others, with mistakes opening doors for competitors to score higher. Ultimately, the competition remained fiercely contested, keeping spectators on the edge of their seats.

Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish, flying his Extra EA-330LX (registration ZS-EXT), delighted the audience with a sensational airshow display following the completion of the unknown sequence category. Their high-energy performance included close formation flying and breathtaking passes, captivating the crowd from start to finish.

Next up was the freestyle category, where the contenders had the freedom to perform their own routine. However, they were assessed on various disciplines and had to adhere as closely as possible to a 4-minute time frame while showcasing innovation, artistic flair, and flawless execution of individual maneuvers. Scores were based on the overall performance and innovation displayed.

Closing the flying portion of the day was a mesmerizing display by the Marksmen Aerobatic Team, comprising Mark Hensman, Jonnie Smith flying his Extra EA-330LX (registration ZS-SMI), and Eugene Du Preez. The team wowed the crowd with breathtaking close formation flying and high-energy passes, concluding their performance with a massive heart drawn in the sky, earning resounding cheers and applause from the appreciative audience.

The day concluded with the official results announcements and podium presentations, acknowledging the outstanding achievements of the participants across all categories.

The final results for the SkyGP events in their respective categories were as follows:

The organizers of the event deserve sincere gratitude for hosting the SkyGP in Durban, and appreciation goes out to everyone who contributed to its successful execution, particularly the sponsors.

The Sky GP was presented by Sky Grand Prix (Pty) Ltd, represented by Roger Deare and Nigel Hopkins, under the auspices of the Sport Aerobatic Club of South Africa and CIVA (International Aerobatic Commission).

Other officials who played key roles in the event include:

Contest Organiser: Roger Deare
Contest Director: Annie Boon
Contest Safety Officer: Cliff Lotter
Registrar and Scorer: Natalie Stark
Jury President CIVA: Mike ‘Spanky’ Gallaway
Chief Judge: Quintin Hawthorne
Judges: Guy Augur (France), Laszlo Liszkay (South Africa), Johnie Smith (South Africa)
Marketing: Katey Watkin
Medical team: Netcare 911

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Kumbululuka Kwa Bafana – Zambian Children’s Flight 2023

Felix Gosher is an Airline Transport Pilot Licence holder and charter pilot residing in Zambia Lusaka. Felix has been organizing the annual children’s flight for underprivileged children that have never flown in an aircraft before in South Africa, which started at Grand Central Airport in Midrand, South Africa and now taking place at the Magalies gliding club, Magaliesburg.

Five hundred Children who had never flown before now had a chance to leave the ground and feel for themselves what flight feels like over the past weekend at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport which is located in Chongwe District.

Kumbululuka Kwa Bafana – Zambian Children’s Flight 2023 organiser Felix Gosher.

Felix also recently hosted the Elders flight which took a number of Elderly South African citizens for their first flight in an aircraft at Brakpan Airfield in the east rand of Johannesburg. Five hundred Children who had never flown before now had a chance to leave the ground and feel for themselves what flight feels likes!

After a successful Children’s Flight in Zambia last year on the flight line of the Zambia Airforce base in Lusaka. 2023 was surely another triumphant event with together with Belinda Gosher (Felix’s Wife) together with sponsors aircraft and pilots and the Zambia Airforce (ZAF), an event worthwhile seeing kids’ faces of excitement before and after their flight in an aircraft for the first time.

The South African media generously sponsored a flight ticket to attend the event on behalf of Aviation Central. Our flight took us from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on a local flight operator in Zambia, Proflight on a CRJ on a two-hour journey to Zambia Lusaka. The Southern Sun Ridgway Hotel kindly sponsored the South African Media team for two nights of accommodation.

On arrival, we were greeted by Felix and Belinda at the Airforce side of Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. Of course, the day before the event, set up is key, as making sure all is in order for the following day with vendors and helping hands busy with their assigned tasks. Without sponsors, this event would not take place.

We arrived at the airport awaiting the arrival of the children from a number of homes and orphanages through the approval of the Zambia ministry to fly an aircraft and enjoy a day with food and entertainment. The first of the morning’s proceedings started off with the lord’s prayer to kick start a safe and give an assurance that the children would remember endlessly.

The arrival of the Chief of the Zambia Air Force Lieutenant General Colin Barry, with the air force band relaying the Zambia National Anthem, while a Y12 dropped skydivers from the Zambia Airforce. One of the skydiving members also flew the Zambian flag on his return to the ground.

Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Band

Alpha & Bravo Flight was up first with a Proflight Boeing 737-5Y0 and a Zambia Airforce MA60 transport aircraft to take the first load of children for their flight.

ProFlight Boeing 737-500
ZAF Xian MA60


During the speeches, “ZAF Commander, Lieutenant General Colin Barry said the event was important as it was centered around inclusivity, awakening innovation and the pursuit of knowledge among vulnerable children.”

“Let’s challenge everyone to think bigger and reach higher. Through these activities we are giving the underprivileged children a glimpse of the future that is full of possibilities,” Lieutenant General Barry said.

This was followed by Charlie’s flight with more Zambia Airforce assets including a Beechcraft 1900, Cessna 208B Caravan, Y12, MA60, and a civilian King Air and a lonesome Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander.

It was then the start of the flying festivities with the Zambia Airforce Golden Eagles. The Hongdu JL-8 (K8) display team is made up of five Karakorum-8. This was a first for Aviation Central to see this jet display team in action and all we could say is WOW…

Zambia Airforce Golden Eagles Karakorum-8s
ZAF Golden Eagles K8 solo display

On the completion of the K8s, South African airshow display pilot Jason Beamish took to the air with his high-energy aerobatic display in his Extra 330LX. This was the first civilian aerobatic display in 50 years of independence. Jason was surely a favorite of the day with the crowd as well as the Zambia air force pilots.

Jason Beamish in the Extra 330The first civilian aerobatic display in 50 years of independence.

On completion, it was the first of the smaller aircraft to take to the air with a combination of the Zambia Airforce. Including Cessna 206s, Beechcraft Barons, Cessna C185s, Cessna C210s, and Piper Cherokee just to name a few. The Zambia Airforce L15s were then next to do a few low-level fly-past. Being at an International airport, onlookers are able to see a number of airlines arriving, an added treat being so close to the runway on the flight line at ZAF Lusaka Airforce Base.

 Cessna 210C Centurion flown by Richard Jnr Nicholson
ZAF Hongdu JL-10, also known as Hongdu L-15 Falcon
Air Tanzania Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The ZAF hangar that was provided for utilization for the event, had a number of arrangements of seating and tables for the little ones to enjoy their meal and provide an aviation party with DJ Switcher on the turn table. Goodie bags with hats, sunglasses, and snacks were also provided.

After each of the displays, the children were able to meet and greet the display pilots and a boost of encouragement for them to become pilots in the ZAF or in the aviation industry, with that said another successful children’s flight came to an end.

Well done Felix and all that made the 2023 Zambia Children’s Flight takeoff! Thanks to everyone who made it possible to get Aviation Central to this year’s Zambia Children’s Flight.

FLY FEED LOVE INSPIRE

Please Browse through our gallery below!

Reno Air Racing Association officially seeks bids for future home of National Championship Air Races

The Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) is officially seeking bids from interested airports and localities that wish to partner with the organization to host future events. The 59th National Championship Air Races will take place for the final time at the Reno-Stead Airport on September 13 – 17, with an airshow to follow in 2024, before moving to its future home. The event was recently named the top airshow in the United States and the runner-up in North America in the 2023 USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Award. To view the instructions and learn more, visit the proposal page here.

“We are incredibly excited to look at this next evolution of the National Championship Air Races and the ways in which we can further grow the event for current and future generations of air race fans,” said Fred Telling, chairman and CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association. “This year’s event will be a celebration of our legacy and allow us to springboard forward as we search for a new home for the event. We’re thankful for all of the interest we’ve already received from prospective sites and look forward to an exciting RFP process.”

The National Championship Air Races is the only event of its kind in the world and is a vibrant part of aviation’s culture and history. The event annually brings tens of thousands of patrons from all over the world and has generated an economic impact of over $100 million for the region. Potential partners may be able to host the current seven race classes at one location or hosts may be part of a larger, multi-city series of race events. Other attractions, such as various military displays and demonstrations, will continue to be a part of future events.

“Our RFP selection committee is excited to get to work on this project and to see the possibilities for the event’s next home,” said Terry Matter, vice board chairman for the Reno Air Racing Association and RFP committee lead. “We have a talented group of 12 members made up of other RARA board members, race pilots, engineers, and consultants who have been chosen for their combined knowledge and familiarity with the detail and scope of what it takes to produce, manage, and market the National Championship Air Races. With their expertise, we feel confident we will select the best location for the event’s continued success.”

About the National Championship Air Races

The National Championship Air Races are held every September just north of Reno by the Reno Air Racing Association, a 501(c)(3). The event has become an institution for Northern Nevada and aviation enthusiasts from around the world with seven racing classes, a large display of static aircraft and several military and civilian flight demonstrations. Independent economic impact studies show that the event generates as much as $100 million annually for the local economy. For more information on the National Championship Air Races, visit AirRace.org.

SAAF Museum Airshow 2023- “Taking off to new frontiers”

The first airshow of the seeing started with a bang at the Mobile Deployment Wing Swartkop (MDW) previously Air force base Swartkop.

The show build at Swartkop is always exciting at military airshows in South Africa. The Wednesday morning with the Gautrain Alouette II race where Aviation Central was kindly invited to be in the Alouette III follow chopper to get air to air shots of the race where we joined News Room Africa. The show also included a youth development program for a number of learners who spent the day considering a career in aviation the Friday before the show.

Also catching all the arrivals of aircraft and seeing them validate surely get the people of Pretoria excited for the show! This years theme for the show was “Taking off to new frontiers” The South African Airforce Museum ,South African air force and a number of civilian teams had a number of aircraft on flying and static displays.

The reason for this airshow is to generate funds to keep the South African Airforce museum flying and static exhibits in order and to look after military aviation history in the country.

The show was big this year with a large program as follows below with Colonel Keith Fryer as air boss and putting together a awesome show with a different variety of aircraft in the mix. Colonel Keith Andrew’s (Retired) was ramp boss with Major Heinrich “Skippie” Scheepers. Taskings of aircraft and over flight clearance were under taken by Captain Ryan Mitton ,Captain Andre Roets and Lieutenant Richard Dixon.

Capital Sounds Brian Emmenis and his team provided excellent commentary on aircraft and aircrew.

The morning show started with the arrival of Paramotors from the near Grasslands airfield with a brief display by helicopter formation fly-pasts by Rob Osner in his Alouette III “Rudi”, Charles Fuller in his Alouette II and Juba Jourbert in the Aerospatiale Gazelle.

The emergency vehicles made up of the ECC with a cavalcade and three helicopter types showing their presence in case of an emergency on the day which was luckily not needed. A 15 Squadron Agusta A109,17 Squadron Oryx and a Netcare Bell 430 helicopter. The flying display started with a lonesome Museum Harvard “7111” flown by Martin Louw. Followed by civilian aerobatic competitor Andrew Blackwood Murray in his Extra 300L.

Grant Timms in Richard Lovetts L29 flew a graceful display with a beautiful paint scheme added to this particular Middelburg based former jet trainer. The Museum Helicopter display of two Alouette IIs, Alouette IIIs and Puma as well as a solo Cessna C185 flown by Colonel Gerrie “Smokey” Pretorius.

Andre van Zyl flew his Magni Gyrocopter Display, one of the best Gyrocopter displays you can see in the world. Ivan and Jeandre van der Schaar flew the father and son team, Boeing Stearman and RC Extra 330 demo. The only of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

15 Squadron “Charlie” Flight brought one of their BK-117 Helicopters to the show flown by display pilot Major Corrie Oberholzer and Flight Sargent Coert Steynberg.85 Combat Flying School Hawk MK120 flown by Major Rehan “Kaine” Venter was the first of the fast jet displays of the day. Captain JP “Nitro” Poisat provided commentary during his display.

Steve Brown flew a rare display in the Classic Flying Collection Auster, a display tribute to his late father Gavin Brown. Central Flying School provided a solo Pilatus PC7MKII display flown by Rooivalk pilot Major Ronald Moroole. The Raptor RVs were next flown by Nigel Hopkins, Dion Raath, Ryan Beaton, Trevor Warner and Johan von Solms.

Juba Jourbert flew a Aerospatiale Gazelle display showing off the lines of the aircraft. The hired gun pitts specials were next led by Scullly Levin. Scullly also led the Puma flying lions Harvard’s in their display and during their sunset display before returning to Rand Airport.

The ever favorite 2 Squadron Gripen flown by Musa “Midnite” Mbhokota had the crowds on their feet to see South Africa’s front line fighter. Rodney Chinn, Grant Timms and Steve Brown were up next in the Classic Flying Collection De Haviland Chipmunks.

The SAAF Museum put most of their assets in the air with Combat Search and rescue as well as many formations displays including their Aerospatiale Puma in formation with two Harvard’s. The Cessna C185 with two Alouette IIIs. Team Extra 330 flown by Jason Beamish and Nigel Hopkins flew a high energy aerobatic display. Nigel also led the Goodyear Eagles Pitts Specials.

Menno Parsons flew both his beautifully bright Tiger Huey and the only flying P51D Mustang in Africa. The Tiger Moth Duo flown again by Grant Timms and Steve Brown making up the contingent of aircraft from the Classic Flying Collection based at Springs Airfield.

The Boeing 737-300 flown by Captain Dennis Spence and First Officer Melissa with the compliments of Africa Air Charter. A great sight to see a airliner display at Swartkop once again.

16 Squadron provided a mighty Rooivalk display flown by Major Paul “Raccoon” Kempthorn. With a spectacular flare drop at the end of his show.Midnite flew the last display of the day with the Gripen also ending his spectacular loud show with a flare drop.

A huge well done to Lieutenant Colonel Stefan van Zyl, acting officer commanding of Mobile Deployment Wing Swartkop and his team for making this show happen. Lieutenant Colonel Gaelejwe. Also a word of thanks to many of the sponsors and stakeholders in their effort to the Museum Airshow. The show was also dedicated to the former acting OC of The SAAF Museum Major Ntshangase who unfortunately lost his life a few weeks ago. We look forward to seeing more Museum aircraft coming back online and more static exhibits getting their finishing touches. A word of thanks to Captain Mpama for looking after the media and getting them to the designate photography spots on the day.
Till then, “Keep the up where they belong”!

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