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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:

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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The Elders Flight – Brakpan Airfield 2023

Many people across the world have never had the opportunity to fly in an aircraft let alone even set foot inside one.

The 22nd April, a cool autumn breeze swept along the Brakpan airfield for the 2023 edition of the elders flight. A day many South African elderly from communities around Gauteng,this including a handful of ex South African Air force pilots once again sitting up in their former office.

Excitement was definitely on ones mind for some of the 300+ elderly members joining for their day of flying for the first time and a day dedicated to them.

Felix Gosher, the event organiser, put together a huge program of sponsors to pull off the event. With a large safety team, beverages, fuel and aircraft just to name a few.

Felix Gosher a Air Line Transport Pilot license holder and a newly qualified Beechcraft 1900 rated pilot. Felix who also organisers the annual Children’s Flight at Orient airfield. Felix is supported by his wife Belinda at these events which sleepless nights make these events a success with a large amount of hard work from behind the scenes.

The day without a doubt was planned to the last full stop landing of each aircraft and every last passenger receiving their wings from South African Air Force Major General Lance “Lancelot” Mathebula who is director of force preparation at SAAF Headquarters. He arrived in a 17 Squadron Agusta A109LUH.

A bit of a different ride for a fighterjock, Lance has flown the Pilatus PC7MKII,Impala Mk1 and Impala MKII, Hawk Mk120 and Gripen. The Major General who is also a qualified weapons attack instructor, former 2v1 display pilot and foreign exchange pilot to name some of his achievements!

Brian Emmenis from Capital Sounds, provided commentary throughout the day, also during the Puma Energy Flying Lions Harvard’s display. A flat show was provided by Scully Levin and the team, with some height restrictions, with Brakpan airfield being so close to OR Tambo International Airport airspace.

The final flights that took place were for many ex South African Airforce Pilots flying in some extraordinary aircraft. This included aircraft types members flew or had the opportunity to fly for the first time, one being retired Lieutenant Piet Visser in his P-51 Mustang almost 70 years after he flew the P51 in the Korean War. Former Chief, retired Lieutenant General Fabian ‘Zakes’ Msimang, flew in a alouette II with owner Charles Fuller.

Some of the aircraft that were present at this years elders flight most probably the biggest fleet committed ever.

We a number of fixed wing aircraft including a Antonov An2 ZU-FOO, Cessna C208 Grand Caravans, Cessna C182,C210s,C150s.A large continent of taildraggers, chipmunks, austers, bosboks, Kudu, tiger moths and even a P51D Mustang owned and flown by veteran elders flight partner Menno Parsons.

Helicopters that were present had a bell 407s,Brakpan based Alouette II and Alouette III flown by Charles Fuller and Rob Osner. Bell B206 Jet Rangers, Hughes 369 and a Bell 205

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Parys Airshow 2022

The long awaited Parys Airshow on the banks of the Vaal River was finally here, with legendary airshow veteran Scully Levin as the host of this first airshow back on the highveld after the Covid 19 pandemic!

Airshow tickets were sold out both online a few days before and as well as at the gate at sjoe itself. It was definitely a show that wasn’t going to be missed by aviation enthusiasts from around the country.

Airshow South African Chairperson Rikus Erasmus was Flight Director with Lieutenant Colonel Retired Francois “Hose” Hanekom. Louise Hofmeyr handled the media contingent for the day!

Brian Emmenis and his team from Capital Sounds provided sound and incredible commentary for each of the acts of the day. It was great to hear Mr Airshow himself back at it again!
The team comprised of Peter Bailey Keith Alan Fryer Leon  Du Plessis Ricky Fouché Michiel Rascher Philip Scott, Rodger Coetzee.

The airshow started with a paradrop from a  ex- Rhodesian Airforce AL-60  converted into a turbine with a number of familiar skydivers from the past airshow scene but most of all representing Skydive Parys.

ex- Rhodesian Airforce AL-60 

It was then the first aerobatic act of the day from the Puma Flying Lions Harvards with Scully Levin leading the team, the Hired Gun Pitts Specials also flew their routine with the ever popular Pitts Special.

Puma Flying Lions Harvard
Hired Gun Pitts Specials

The RV Raptors flew their tight routine with leader Pierre Gouws who also flew Richard Lovetts Middelburg based L39 Albatross. The crowd loved the sound of the Jet as during the week saw the premiere of the new Top Gun Maverick at cinemas around South Africa. It was surely the talk of the show.

L39 Albatross.
RV Raptors

The Iveco Extra 330s debuted their first show in their newly sponsored aircraft with Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish flying extreme aerobatics. Barrie Eeles also flew a solo display in his “On the move” Extra 330.

Iveco Extra 330s
Jason Beamish & Nigel Hopkins
Barrie Eeles Extra 330

Helicopters lovers saw Menno Parsons in his Bell 407 as well as Juba Joubert in the Aerospatiale Gazelle. Andre Coetzee Flew one of the many Henely Air Bell 222s.Andre van Zyl who provides one of the best Gyro Helicopter displays one can see.

Bell 407
Aerospatiale Gazelle.
Bell 222
Magni Gyrocopter

The Goodyear Eagles flew with a new team comprising of Dennis Spence, Johan von Solms and newest member Trevor Warner in their Pitts S2Bs.

Goodyear Eagles

The classic flying collection based at Springs Airfield brought two different de Havilland aircraft to the show. Three Chipmunks and two Tiger Moths.

De Havilland Chipmunks
De Havilland Tiger Moth

Ivan van Der Schaar flew his beautiful Brakpan based Boeing Stearman and his inspiring aviator son Jeandre as his ground crew for the day!

Boeing Stearman

Oscar Goudriaan (Former Open Class World Gliding Champion)flew a Jonker Sailplanes JS3 Rapture 18m powered glider. What a graceful display. And great to see at an airshow once again.

Jonker Sailplanes JS3 Rapture

The Sandriver Air Tractors flew a crop spraying and water bombing demo. It was great to see and hear a radial air tractor as its not often seen at events. A real treat.

Well done to all role players of the event being a success and we looking forward to more airshows at Parys. Roll on Newcastle Airshow KZN 4th June 2022.

Please Browse through our gallery below!