Tag Archives: L39

Newcastle Airshow KZN 2022

What now is the longest running airshow in South Africa, for the last 10 years the KwaZulu-Natal town of Newcastle has managed to have a decade of successful airshow. Obviously with the pandemic the show would be on its twelve year but got interrupted by hard lock downs and other reasons delaying the show in 2020 and 2021.

With the theme “I Can Dream” Champ Group Johan Pieters, Christo van Zyl and Romano Raghoo organisers of the last ten shows did it again. The only airshow in the entire KwaZulu-Natal, attracted many aviation enthusiasts and first timers at an airshow on 4th June 2022.

Airshow South Africa put together a great programme with a variety of display aircraft including the South African Airforce, a major contributor to a number of previous shows in the past as well.

Rikus Erasmus, who is Airshow South Africa Chairperson, was Flight Director. Louise Hofmeyr handled the media accreditation and placed the photographers in a great area for getting the shot of the day!

Keith Fryer former South African Airforce Cheetah pilot was safety director. Lieutenant Colonel Levi Mogosti former 22 Squadron Lynx flight engineer was the South African Airforce safety Liaison officer. Brent Waren was ramp controller who is a familiar face at Stellenbosch Airfield.

ATNS Ricardo Alfonso and his team of ATCs were kept busy from the Friday with arrivals through to the last departure on Saturday after the show.

Capital Sounds Brian Emmenis arrived the Friday before the show to set up sound equipment. Brian recently worked with Hollywood actor Tom Cruise in various South African provinces on a new movie that will be out in the near future. Brian himself, Leon Du Plessis provided excellent commentary on all aircraft and letting the crowd hear radio chatter between pilots.

The Chief of the South African Airforce Lieutenant General Wiseman Simo Mbambo flew in late Friday afternoon in a 17 Squadron Agusta A109LUH.Lieutenant General Mbambo grew up in Northern KwaZulu-Natal in a small village called Louwsburg (e-Ngoje).

The show started at 11am by then the crowds had arrived. A Cessna 206 was the jump ship for the massive South African Flag flown by Ralph Ridge and others including members from the South African National Defence.

It was then time for the fast movers in the form of Hawk MK120s from 85 Combat Flying School two-ship capability demonstration led by Major Kgosimang “Cipher” Seeco flanked on the wing by newly qualified wingmen at 85 Combat Flying School. The morning display was Captain Tiisetso “Lego” Legodi and then Major Mikhail “Spectre” Petersen in the afternoon.

The South African Airforce also had a 19 Squadron A109LUH on static display for the public to view as well as information for the youth to join the air force.

The Amajuba district municipality invited learners from a number of schools to listen to key addresses including the Chief of the South African Airforce and many others. The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs of KwaZulu-Natal and KwaZulu- Natal Tourism are part of the driving force of the show.

Next was the Goodyear Eagle Pitts S2Bs owned by Aerobatics Unlimited and retired SAA Captain Dennis Spence. The two ship was flown by Flysafair pilot Johan von Solms also a former Cheetah pilot. His lead was Trevor Warner, the new member of the team!

The Magni Gyrocopter was excellently flown by Andre van Zyl, who provided two displays for the day after flying in from Gauteng. Henley Air’s Andre Coetzee flew the Bell 222 helicopter display. Henley Air is the biggest operator of the Bell 222 in Africa and if not the world.

Juba Joubert flew a Alouette II display, probably the best helicopter display pilot flying the older generation of helicopters in the world.

The Puma Flying Lions flew a three-ship display flown by Scully Levin, Arnie Meneghelli and Sean Thackeray. The Harvard’s also did a missing man formation for the late Mark “Sammy” Sampson who tragically lost his life in a airshow accident in Zimbabwe a few days before the show.

A rare visitor to Newcastle was Dave Mandel in his Aero L39 ZU-Jet which is based in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) . Was great to see the camouflage of this particular L39 and very photogenic.

Unfortunately the L39 had a tyre blow out on landing and Dave did a great job handling the aircraft, as well as both flight director and safety officer brining it to a complete stop on the opposite side of the runway. Emergency services were dispatched as a precaution and were at the scene in seconds.

The show carried on at lunch with Ivan van Der Schaar in his Boeing Stearman, being the only other radial aircraft at the show. It’s a real classic to the public eye.

The Raptor RV two ship flown again by Trevor Warner and Johan von Solms provided close formation aerobatics.

The airshow closed with the pair of Hawk MK120s. Some the visiting aircraft departed back to their home bases. And another safe and successful airshow in Newcastle was done and dusted. And we now start the count down to next year’s show once again.

Please Browse through our gallery below!

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!



Aero Club Air Week- Middelburg 2022

The Aero Club Airweek held from Friday 22 nd to Sunday 24 th April is an event showcasing all of
General & Recreational Aviation as an annual event, which in recent years has been hosted by the
Middelburg Aero Club where there are excellent facilities and open airspace. In 2021 it was the
Centenary Year + 1 (as 2020 was cancelled – literally….), where 2021 with Airweek being one of the
first events post Covid, it became a big attraction for attendance with around 150 aircraft of various
types participating.

This year and also in conjunction with the EAA Convention, it was more subdued
in terms of attendance given variability of weather outlook (although weather was excellent through
the whole weekend) as well as economics coming in to play with fuel now hitting R30/l.


In any event, those that attended saw activities as a real gem, from no less than 10 aviation related
exhibitors, Flying Lions & Goodyear Eagles displays, Dawn Balloon flights to a EAA Navex hosted by
SAPFA. There were around 100 aircraft in attendance from Friday through to Sunday, with many
campers on the well prepared lawn adjacent the club.


As is the tradition at Airweek, the Saturday night dinner was also the awards evening, with Aero Club
handing out some fun awards, these being:


 Most Enthusiastic Team Award – The Bateleurs who had prime spot at the event
 Bob the Builder Award (Best Homebuilt) – Richard & Irene Lovett – RV14 – ZU-ITF
 Fairy Award (Best Light Sport Aircraft) – Lance Holland – Cheetah – ZU-DKI
 The old and Beautiful Award (Best Vintage Aircraft) – Patrick Watson – Cessna 140 – ZU-ECP
 The Powdered Pampered Bum Award (Best Warbird) – Steve George – Navion – ZS-WUK
 Piping Hot Award (Hottest Air Balloon) – Mario Febbrario – ZS-HOK

Many thanks go to our sponsors Vektor Aviation & Sport Plane Builders, support we had from our
exhibitors, the photographers & journalists, the Middelburg Aero Club, without all these entities we
would not have been able to hold the event.


The Aero Club is looking at reinforcing this event as the GA & RA annual showcase, and will be
working again with Middelburg to host again in 2023 where we will be looking at expanding the
activities on a wider front.

Thanks to Pieter Cronje for the beautiful pictures!

Cuban South African Airforce Graduates

by Lt Gen F.Z. Msimang, Chief of the South African Air Force

Life is indeed cyclical. Many years ago, in the mid-80’s a young soldier by the name Zakes Khulu along with his comrades found themselves in a foreign country pursuing aviation studies. They learned all they could in that country, immersing themselves in its culture, its ways of life. They would eventually return home with their newly acquired skills, eager to start collaborating in establishing a new democracy. Looking back at their journey in many ways mirrors your own. You too were deployed to a foreign country to learn, to grow, to improve and be immersed in a culture engendered with liberation so that when you returned, which you have now done, you will continue the democracy building project. That Zakes Khulu with some of those surviving comrades, stand before you now beaming with pride for your extraordinary achievements, watching you ride the waves of endless possibilities. We are extremely proud of you all.

We are here, today, under strict Covid-19 regulations, which we must observe and respect accordingly, to welcome all of you on parade and your proud families, loved ones and friends to this auspicious and memorable occasion. We are here to honour a group of military aviators who trained in the Republic of Cuba; we welcome them home to their esteemed SAAF flying community. 

Graduates, you have touched my heart. You have carried yourselves with exceptional grace and honour. You kept your promise to me. You have brought home commendable results but know this road still unfolds before your feet. Baba Mandela – the Father of our Nation – once said: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

This parade marks one of the many summits you will have to reach in your long careers in the SANDF.

But as your achievements belong to you they belong also to your unwavering support structures. It was a community project. This journey would have been impossible without the commitment and dedication of your instructors, your mentors and of cause – the support of your proud parents, family members and loved ones. A special word of thank you to all the SAAF members who helped you work through obstacles, while you tenaciously invited the universe to mold you into fine soldiers. 

Our unbreakable bonds between the Cubas and our government can be traced to its support of African liberation movements, following the overthrow of the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 by “The Movement,” formed by late longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Cuba supported the anti-apartheid struggle in this country opposing racial segregation when it was not fashionable to do so. It criticised the international community for blatantly ignoring South Africa’s human rights’ violations – the very rights that many are taking for granted in this country today. 

When the democratic South African National Defence Force entered into bilateral agreements with The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces to create study opportunities for our soldiers,  the South African Air Force (SAAF)  embraced this opportunity with open arms.

We identified disciplined young men and women to undergo training in Cuba, where they would be immersed in a different culture, social structure, and political landscape. In 2014, we sent twenty-seven candidates to undergo various training specialties in aviation engineering, air traffic control and pilot training fields. They stand before us now: a result of a bond based on shared revolutionary principles. 

I kept an eagle eye on your developments in Cuba. I was pleased to learn that you turned every challenge into an opportunity for growth. Your results speak for themselves. You received golden awards for both academia and sports. You even experienced the devastating hurricane Irma and used that difficult time to learn major survival skills. Your stay in Cuba also coincided with the mourning of the passing of one the world’s finest revolutionaries Fidel Castro, his message of resistance to oppression resounding strong. Cuba provided you with immense lessons in patriotism, survival and determination. May these lessons nourish you.

Additional  SAAF students commenced with their aviation training in Cuba in 2018 and 2019. We are expecting more graduates in 2021, 2022 amd 2026. Extending the SAAF training scope to various foreign countries will ultimately bring about a generation of differently trained individuals who if nurtured and allowed to plough back their knowledge, will enhance our outlook as part of the global community.

And as we reach our close, I must stress that the knowledge you have acquired is crucial in meeting our Constitutional mandate and requirements. Our constitution states that “the Defence Force must be structured and managed as a disciplined military force”. As a soldier, for me, the success of the SAAF will be underpinned by an enforcement of discipline and the concentration on functional, developmental and physical training. May we be soldiers who live in integrity: for ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism. You have answered our Nation’sd call – Which is Service, and Country. May you grow to be airmen with integrity,…… for ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism. 

As proud and devoted members of the SANDF, we must have  an eagle’s eye view on any challenge and hover above  it menacingly, in the knowledge that our citizenry expects nothing less  than a deep sense of security from us.

The Chief of the SAAF concluded his speech below:

TO THE MEMBERS ON PARADE, I WISH YOU ALL SUCCESS IN YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVOURS. YOU ARE OUR FUTURE LEADERS.  GO OUT THERE AND SERVE THE NATION.   THE AIR FORCE COMMAND COUNCIL WILL CERTAINLY BE FOLLOWING YOUR CAREERS WITH INTEREST – CONTINUE WITH THE HARD WORK AND DISCIPLINE YOU HAVE DEMONSTRATED THUS FAR.

MAY YOU BE ABUNDANTLY BLESSED. 

I THANK YOU.

Aero L39s of the Cuban Airforce were used as ab-intio trainers for South African Air Force pupil pilots!

“ZUTEE” Now Flying in the USA

A once familiar Aero L39 Albatross ZU-TEE that was often seen at airshows around South Africa now resides in the United States.The former Czechoslovakia jet trainer saw a number of colour schemes when the aircraft was based in South Africa and owned by John Wright at first then onto Charles Urban before heading down to Port Elizbeth and flying with Sea View Aerobatics.

Langebaanweg Airshow 2017
Ermelo Airshow April 2018

ZU-TEE is an ex Ukrainian aircraft. The aircraft was restored to flying condition in late 2004 with the help of Vladimir Stoikine and team, after last having flown in 1996.

When most Eastern Block Airforces retired the L39, the airframe became available for purchase for civilians and a number of L39s became airworthy around the world including a number of L39s being imported into South Africa for private use.


The aircraft was first painted in the White and red scheme, with Aviation Dimension logos. Aviation Dimension which was branded on the jet at the time. After this agreement expired, the aircraft was then painted in the all black scheme, and then fitted with Castrol sponsorship in 2006, as part of the L-39 / Jet dragster show down Unfortunately Johann Jacob’s was tragically killed when his jet car over turned in the Northern Cape during a land speed record attempt It then went onto a all black colour scheme without any sponsors for awhile, looking very similar to the Cape Town Based Thunder City aircrafts inventory colour scheme.

First colour scheme on the South African Airshow Circuit with White and red scheme, with Aviation Dimension logos
Castrol sponsorship in 2006, as part of the L-39 / Jet dragster show down
During AAD2006 Ysterplaat Airforce Base, Cape Town

In 2008 the aircraft was painted into the wildcat scheme in a blue and white livery and in 2010,as it was seen at AAD with Avpix branding, under which Frans Dely (RIP) used as a campership for a number of Air To Air photography shoots.

During its time on the airshow circuit Pierre Gouws was the display pilot for ZU-TEE, he still currently displays with Richard Lovetts Middelburg based L39 ZU-IBN, which is an identical aircraft with the same colour scheme as ZUTEE to date. Charles Urban also displayed the aircraft before he sold the aircraft to Seaview Aerobatics in Port Elizabeth.

L39s ZU-TEE&ZU-IBN Ermelo Airshow 2018

Glen Warden displayed the aircraft before it left for the United States of America.

SAAF Museum Airshow 2012
Newcastle Airshow 2014 KZN
SAAF Museum Airshow 2018

ZUTEE is currently in Orange County New York, where it has recently been based and has believed to have been sold to another American owner. You can see clearly ZU-TEE is still on the jet but its new North American Registration is N699BA.

ZU-TEE is still on the jet but its new North American Registration is N699BA.

The Aero L-39 Albatross is a high-performance jet trainer developed in Czechoslovakia by Aero Vodochody. It was designed during the 1960s as a replacement for the Aero L-29 Delfín as a principal training aircraft. It was the first trainer aircraft to be equipped with a turbofan powerplant.The L39 Is still in service with a number of air forces including Uganda and Cuba and many more!


“Our Collective Heritage” SAAF Museum Airshow 2019

D-Day for the annual South African Airforce Museum Airshow 2019 had finally arrived at the worlds second oldest operational airbase in the world, Airforce Base Swartkop which is home to the South African Airforce Museum and 17 Squadron a operational helicopter unit also active at the base. The Theme for this years show was “Our Collective Heritage” this is to celebrate and recognise the procurement of our past and present in the SAAF.

Both Umkhonto we Sizwe ( MK ) and Azanian Peoples Liberation Army (AMPLA) sent their pilots abroad to train on aircraft including Cessna 150s and L39s.Helicopter Pilots were sent to Russia for their rotary wings course flying both the MI24 Hind and Mil Mi8 Helicopters.

Former homelands in South Africa known as the TBVC Sates, which were the Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and the Ciskei had their very own Airwings which operated light transport aircraft, helicopter and turbo prop trainers including Pilatus PC7 MKIs just some of the few of their air assets. This was also a perfect occasion to celebrate the theme our collective heritage as mentioned above.

The SAAF Museum Airshow was opened by the Chief of the South African Airforce Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande “Zakes” Msimang. Who flew in one of the Museum Alouette III, General Msimang a former helicopter pilot mentioned in his speech “The purpose of the Museum Air Show is primarily to celebrate our collective heritage, as well as a build up towards the Aerospace and Defence Expo in September 2020.”

The South African Airforce Band, choreographed some beautiful sets of instrumental music for the opening of the show and kept the public entertained during the course of the day with sights and sounds of military men and women putting together their talent of music.

With the low cloud base in the morning of the show, the Golden Eagles Parachute display team were unfortunate not allowed to jump out of the 44 Squadron Casa 212 based at Airforce Base Waterkloof.

Air boss for this years show was Lieutenant Colonel Rodney King a former leader of the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Display team. Capital Sounds Brian Emmenis had a huge deployment with at least a kilometre of speakers, so that the strong 30 000 plus crowd could hear commentary from both Brian Emmenis, Leon Du Plessis, Colonel Lance “Lancelot” Mathebula,Colonol Catherine “Siren” Constable, Major Dale Naddison,Lieutenant Colonel Iwan Robbertse, Captain Tiisetso “Lego” Legodi and Major Mandisa “Comet” Mfeka.

The Silver Aerobatic Display team opened he show with their flat display with Major Omphile “Biggy” Matloane at the lead. The Museums Helicopter’s were next with a aerial ballet from both the Alouette II and Alouette III.A solo display by the Puma, flown by General John Church.

The First jet display for the day was the Museums Vampire T55 flown by Colonel Glen “Gringo” Warden. Glen also flew the Rand Airport Based L29 and L39 adding to the eastern block jet age.

South African Airforce Displays consisted of a Hawk MK120 flown by Lieutenant Colonel Craig “Shark” Leeson, as he gave his last display as 85 Combat Flying Schools display pilot. Major Rehan “Kaine” Venter will be taking over as the Hawk display pilot. Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper put the Gripen JAS39C through its paces with a flare drop at the end of his display.41 Squadron provide a formation display of a Pilatus PC12 and two Cessna 208A Caravans.17 Squadron provided a Oryx Capability demonstration with fast roping and troop extracting. A combat air routine was also carried out by two Hawk MK120s and a JAS39D Gripen fully loaded with ammunition was surly a favourite to see flying in that configuration.

The South African Airforce Museum put on a mini war re -enactment with two Alouette IIIs, Puma,two Cessna C185s,A Kudu and Bosbok. The Museum and Harvard Club T6 Harvard’s flew a mass radial display with a mass shutdown at the end of their slot.

Team Extreme were also present on the day as they have delighted more than hundreds of thousands of people at airshows in Southern Africa this year already. Other Aerobatic teams that were present were the Goodyear Eagles Pitts, The Cows Pitts Specials and the Puma Flying Lions. The MAD Microlight display team also closed the show with LED lights and smoke added to their trikes.

Singleton displays consisted of a Magni Gyro Copter flown by Andre van Zyl, The Nashua Extra 300 flown by Andrew Blackwood Murry. Menno Parsons made a welcome return to Swartkop this year with his P51D Mustang.The radial formation made up of ‘Little Annie’ an Antonov 2 flown by Jon-Marc and Mark Hill as well as a Boeing Stearman flown by Ivan van der Schaar and Riaan Prinsloo in his Yak 18T.Each of the radials then provided a solo display. The Classic Formation made up of a De Havilland Tiger Moth and two Chipmunks added to the De Havilland Aircraft heritage. Anton von Willich flew a display in his Aerospatiale Gazelle. General Des Barker flew a demo flight in the Wonderboom based Atlas Angel.

As the Gripen closed off the show with a sunset display, ending off with flares into the dark blue skies. Another successful and safe Swartkop Airshow had come to an end. With the short amount of time the SAAF Museum and the SAAF had to pull off a great show with a variety of aircraft on display, a big well done to all involved from Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande “Zakes” Msimang Chief of the SAAF, Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Bruintjies Officer commanding SAAF Museum, Lieutenant Colonel Trish Schoeman Officer Commanding Airforce Base Swartkop, Lieutenant Colonel Rodney King Flight Director for the show, Major Ntokozo Ntshangase as the media liaison for the SAAF Museum, Capital Sounds and to all display pilots, ground crews ATCs and all other role players behind the scenes that made the show a success.

Until we all meet again at the 2020 SAAF Museum Airshow and celebrate 100 years of the South African Airforce “As the SAAF Museum like to say Keep them up where they’re belong!”

Watch some of the highlights below from this years SAAF Museum Airshow 2019!

https://youtu.be/dN8xcu63kLc