Blue skies for only airshow in KZN

Beautiful weather and a great atmosphere reigned supreme at the 6 th Annual Newcastle Airshow on Sunday, 4 June.

Take six promised to be an action-packed, edge of your seat show – and it did not disappoint.

The airshow this year also welcomed some VIP’s from the South African Air Force in the form of Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang and chief of operations, Major General Wiseman Mbambo.
The Generals were also joined by 5 500 other guests who flooded in.
Aside from the main stage (the skies above Newcastle), lots was happening on the ground.
According to Managing Director of organisers Champ Marketing, Johan Pieters, the day was tailored for the entire family to enjoy.

“Back by popular demand, the playpark for the young ones was a huge success,” said Pieters.
“A little more than 800 Garde 11 maths and science pupils spent the day being treated like VIP’s under the Denel Ubuntu Aviation programme.”

“They were hosted inside the Ni-Da Hanger where the Civil Aviation Authority, South African Air Force, Denel Aviation and Major General Mbambo took to the stage, hoping to inspire our next great pilots.”

It was a full day of aerial action:
The aerial displays started off with Gary Whitecross doing a glider display while Derek Hopkins flew the Lambada as the tow-plane.The AN2 ZU-FOO then took off alongside the paraglider and skydivers while the Torre Industries Pitts were next with their three ship aerobatic display.
Pierre Gouws, Nigel Hopkins, Trevor Warner and Hayden Tunner piloted the Raptors four ship display giving the crowds their first taste of adrenaline fuelled flying.
Ivan van der Schaar in his KFC branded Pitts was next, while Matthew Zalewski who has flown 4000 hours and 3000 of them on his beloved gyrocopter warmed up.
The Legendary Flying Lions with their newly branded Adrenaline Show T6 Harvards took off after, showing off some of their daring feats.
Nigel Hopkins flew a riveting solo aerobatic display in his Extra 330 SC while the cream of the crop got their engines running.
Team 80 - The Silver Falcons in their Pilatus PC7 Mark 2's flown by Mark Gentles, James Wilcox, Omphile Mutloane and Wendy Badenhorst displayed their premier formation and aerobatic manoeuvres with precision and skill reserved for military trained pilots.
The SAAF C130 Hercules broke the ice and speed when its four huge propellers spun it through some low and slow flying manoeuvres.
Menno Parsons, who never fails to disappoint the crowds, took his legendary Mustang Sally P-51 to high speeds, causing the crowd to go wild and the photographers to shake their fists.
The next display was no only sentimental and special, but also kept true aviation fans glued to their binoculars.

Mike Wyngaard flew up in an Impala owned by Dawid Laas.
“Mike's father was a General in the SAAF and had actually helped assemble this Impala ZU-IMP 479, which was the last of the 20 Impala to be delivered to the SAAF on 3 June 1966,’ said Pieters.

Formation flying was the name of the next game with the L39's ZU-IBN flown by Pierre Gouws and a ZU-ROL flown by Glen Warden.

Neville Ferreira in his Slick 540 took on an AMG Mercedes sponsored by Stucky Motors next.
“The atmosphere was thick with tension, as it is every year when this part of the show comes on,” said Pieters.
Peter Graham, Ramp Controller, waved the flag and the two beasts were off.
“It was a pleasant surprise to see the Mercedes cross over the finish line first while Neville showed off a very slick aerobatic display to the great amusement of everyone down below.”

“We wish to thank all and sundry for their support and for coming out to enjoy this festival of aerial magic,’ said Pieters.

“While the dust settles and the fumes dissipate, the heart-stopping sight of a plane defying gravity with a man in control does not quickly fade.

“With that said, come on down to the Newcastle Airshow next year. The date has been booked. See you on 3 June 2017!”

The Silver Falcons – a history

In 1953 an aerobatic team known as the ‘Bumbling Bees’ was founded to represent the South African Air Force by flying formation aerobatics in De Havviland Vampires.

This same team is today known as the Silver Falcons, a team of top notch pilots who showcase the very best in aerobatic flying in the country.

History in the making
The Bumbling Bees team was disbanded in 1958 and only reinstated in 1958, this time flying the Aermacchi MB-326 ‘Impala’ MK I – the newly acquired SAAF het trainer.

The team was soon renamed and the Silver Falcons were born on 22 November 1967, who as a team performed their first show just two days later.

Representing SA
Over the years, the Silver Falcons flew hard to earn a reputation as ambassadors for the SAAF, travelling across the country to display the skills and professionalism of an SAAF pilot.
After every show, the four-strong team would mingle with the public, cementing their role-model status, inspiring many youngsters to follow in their footsteps.
In 1985 the aircraft were repainted in the orange, white and blue – the colours of the then SA flag.

Lucky number five
A fifth members was appointed to the team in March 1988 to fly as a soloist during displays.

Less than a month later, Captain Kobus Griesel suffered an engine fire moments after breaking into his solo set at the Le Motte wine estate just outside Franschhoek in the Western Cape.

He was unable to extinguish the blaze, caused by a malfunction of the smoke generator in the tailpipe.
He ejected safely 25 seconds after the first warning lights began blinking.

Five years later, on 2 October 1993, Captian Charlie Rudnick who flew Impaly 489 suffered structural failure to his right wing during the exit from a loop. He safely ejected three seconds later.
New National Flag

In 1994, democracy arrived in all its glory with a brand new national flag, making the old orange, white and ble livery obsolete.

Embracing the new South African symbols, the Impalas were repainted.

While maintain a similar design, the colours were changed to a white, navy and artic blue scheme – the colours of the SAAF.

The new paintjobs were displayed for the first time at the historic inauguration of President Nelson Mander at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 10 May 1994.

Six Impalas took the sky, leaving a multi-coloured smoke trail in the colours of the new South African flag.

New planes

The team flew with their beloved Impalas for the last time in September 1997.

For four years, the team was dormant, until a new four-plane routine was flown in their new aircraft – the Pilatus PC-7 mk II ‘Astra’. The first Astra display was flown by Team 52, led by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Knoesen on 30 October 1999.

In 2008 the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team was again reborn as a five plane setup and is now the official display team of the South African Air Force.

Their aim is to inspire the youth, promote aviation and showcase the skill of SAAF pilots to the general public.

Unlike most military aerobatic teams today the Silver Falcon is a part-time team.

Pilots and ground crew all perform display duties as an over-and-above task to their primary postings.

Based at Air Force Base Langebaanweg on the South African West Coast th pilots are all full-time ab-initio flying instructors at the Central Flying School.

To date, 100 pilots have been selected to fly in 76 different teams for the Silver Falcons. Each pilot is assigned a unique, sequential number. Whenever one or more team members change, a new team number is also allocated.

Falcons 1-5 make up the flying members of the team. Falcon 6 is the Ground Liaison and Safety Officer (GLO) and Falcon 7 is the Public Realtions Officer (PRO)

Technical Support

Few realise the amount of work required and all the procedures that are in place to keep a military aircraft serviceable.

Often out of the limelight, there is a hard-working team of specialists to ensure that the Silver Falcons not only go up, but also come down with their machines in good working order.

At home base, the PC-7 MkIIs are maintained by the technicians of 2 Air Servicing Unit. On deployment, a team of 8 to 12 technicians accompany the display team and contribute to the success of each aerial display.

Each "crew" consists of a Technical Officer, a Crew Chief, Avionic and Mechanical technicians, Survival specialists, Armourers (ejection seat) and MSC technical personnel for the mountains of paperwork and data capture that accompanies an aircraft system.

Being a relatively small team, tasks are often shared and although a member may specialize in a certain trade, everybody must be able to pitch in and help in whatever tasks are required to "keep the show on the road (or in the air!)".

The Silver Falcons Technical Support Crew are very often called on to "help-out" when other Air Show performers have problems with their aircraft, due to their vast experience and diverse knowledge of aircraft systems.

The total contingent is split into 2 "teams" who rotate the deployments throughout the year.

In typical SAAF fashion, the ground crew members always create room for humour, rivalry and tradition when deployed.

Team 80 who will be performing at the Newcastle Airshow is :

Falcon #1 : Mark Gentles

Falcon #2 : James Wilcox

Falcon #3 : Omphile Mutloane

Falcon #4 : Wendy Badenhorst

Falcon #5 : Sivu Tangana

Falcon #6 : Bheki Shabangu

Nigel Hopkins at a glance

Another pilot that is sure to entertain at the Newcastle Airshow this year is Nigel Hopkins.

Nigel was born in Port Elizabeth, attended school in Pretoria and currently resides in Centurion with his wife and three daughters.

On the rare occasion that he's not flying, you may find Nigel water skiing or playing golf.

Nigel's father is a pilot and aviation enthusiast, so Nigel grew up with aviation. His weekends were spent at parachute clubs and air shows.

He officially started flight training in 1991 and obtained his PPL in 1992 while working as an Air Traffic Controller.

In 1993, he completed his commercial licence with an instructors rating and began flight instruction full time.

Whilst flying medical rescue and charter flights he attained his ATPL in 1994, and joined SA Express Airways in 1995. Shortly after that, in 1996, he moved over to SAA where he has flown a B737-200/800, B767, B747, A319/320 and an A340.

Nigel is currently the Fleet Training Captain on the A320.
Nigel was always in awe of the skill presented at the aerobatic displays at air shows when he was growing up, and in 1995 he took a basic aerobatic course with Scully Levin.

That was the start of his aerobatic and display flying career. Since then he has flown for the L29 Sasol Tigers, Pitts Goodyear, Extra 300 Northwest, Team Xtreme MX2 and SAA Harvards aerobatic teams. Nigel owns his own MX2 and has a passion for aerobatics which he believes "is the purest and the freest form of powered flight."

Nigel was fortunate to survive when in 2015 his MX2 came apart during flight and he was forced to parachute to safety.

Quick facts:

Name: Nigel Hopkins
Date of birth: 12 February 1973
Team Position: Pilot
Day Job: Training Captain for SAA
Total Flying hours: 16,000
Number of aircraft rated on: 123
Age when he started flying: Officially at the age of 18!
Flying achievements: World Rally Flying Champion (2003), Vice World Advanced Aerobatic Champion (2010), 7 time SA Rally Flying Champion, 5 time SA Precision Flying Champion and is SA Aerobatic Champion, for 2 consecutive years

Menno Parsons and his pride and joy, the P-51 Mustang Sally

Arguably one of the biggest attractions at this years’ Newcastle Airshow will be Menno Parsons and his pride and joy, the P-51 Mustang Sally.

Roaring, spitting and kicking the V12 soundtrack of this plane, described by many as the most beautiful ever made, is guaranteed to leave the hairs on your neck stand up.

Parsons, one of the main sponsors this year, is a man whose reputation preceeds him.

He has one of the finest aircraft collections in the country, if not the world, and is never shy to show it off.

Kids often arrive dressed in full Mustang Sally fighter gear at airshows for him to sign.

The North American made P-51 is most famous for being instrumental in the turn of tides during the Second World War.

It is an all-round fighter that was also used to escort bombers between 1943 and 1945. Its best attribute besides its ferociously good looks, is its superior range.

Well-versed in airshow crowds, Parsons takes great satisfaction in giving them a show to remember, every time.

He will display his planes from every possible angle, doing multiple fly-bys just to change the view.

But what sets him aside is his genuine love for planes and all things to do with flying.

His enthusiasm is often contagious and as much pride as he takes in his aircrafts, he loves to share his passion and educate others.

He started flying in 2006, and now ten years later, is described as a master in aviation.

His passion for warbirds and helicopters has driven him to obtain many ratings.

‘Nothing gives me more pleasure that to share my interest with others, especially awakening an interest in young children and giving them a reason to dream big.’

Mustang Sally won’t be the only friend Parsons will be bringing along.

His Tiger Huey ZS-HGC helicopter as well as his North American T-28 Trojan will be along – both sure to be a spectacle to remember.

Denel Ubuntu Educational Day

The 6 th annual Newcastle Airshow will once again this year present Grade 11 pupils with an opportunity to visit the show free of charge, and get a little VIP treatment along the way.

Denel Aviation has been a partner of the Newcastle Airshow for the past fve years and made a decision to become involved yet again this year by becoming the title sponsor of the Ubuntu Educational Day.

Invited maths and science pupils from all over Northern Kwazulu-Natal will be bussed in to the Newcastle Airport, arriving at 8am.

They will then receive coffee and refreshments before their VIP experience kicks off.

Hosted inside the Ni-Da hanger, the pupils will be treated to talks from many of the co-sponsors, namely the Civil Aviation Authority, the South African Air Forcem Denel Aviation and Vodacom will each spend 20 minutes telling them more about aviation, careers and some interesting details about the world of aviation.

The Silver Falcons will also spend time with the pupils before receiving lunch and the opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the airshow.

‘This is a golden opportunity to experience aviation at its best,’ said MD for organisers Champ Marketing, Johan Pieters.

‘Major General Wiseman Mbambo of the SAAF has a five-year plan with the Newcastle Airshow and together we hope that within that timeframe, at least one of the Ubuntu pupils will become a pilot.’

Dreams can become reality at the Newcastle Airshow, with the Denel Ubuntu Educational Dat to be for Grade 11 pupils.

There are only 700 spots available for pupils, who must take maths and science, to partake.
If you are interested, contact Sanele Hlatswayo on 074 499 3817.

World class gliding pilot floats into Newcastle

Ranked among the top 50 glider pilots in the world, Gary Whitecross has got a trick or two up his sleeve for this years’ Newcastle Airshow.
The Springs resident, who has been flying since 1972, spends his days training at the Springs Airfield in conjunction with the East Rand Gliding Club.
Although he only started gliding a few years ago, he is ranked number 42 after the World Championships in 2014, and he believes gliding is the best entry point to learning how to fly.
‘I believe gliding develops skills that no other form of aviation training can provide,’ he said.
Having been an instructor for more than 30 years, there are few other people in the country qualified to confirm the fact.
Due to financial constraints, and his father’s anti-flying attitude, he only qualified in 1981.
Since then he has also obtained his helicopter and micro-light licences.
When he obtained his paraglider licence he competed in the masters section of the World XC Series in Spain in 2006 where he placed third.
In his many years of playing in the skies, Gary has flown most types of aircraft from paragliders to jets, including multi-engine commercial aircraft, helicopters, micro-lights and gliders.
He is also currently Head of Training for the Soaring Society of South Africa, was voted the societies’ Instructor of the year in 2014 and is at the forefront of recreational aviation instruction.
A pilot like few others, he has won both the Western Cape and Gauteng regionals twice and took second and third place in the South African National Championships.
The competitions he says are an endurance test both mentally and physically.
During these competition the committee usually predetermines distances from where competitors take off, which can be up to 600km where the pilot needs to flu to and turn back to the spot where he took off.
‘These are called turning points,’ he said.
‘The fastest competitor who would return first, wins, bearing in mind there is no engine.’
Gliders have the same instruments as normal planes plus an extra sensitive instrument called a variometer, which tells you whether you are rising in the air or not.
Gary received his Protea colours last year, an honour bestowed on only those who are chosen to compete for South Africa internationally.
‘I am honoured as it has been a hard, long road to get here.

Clear the runway – final countdown to Newcastle Airshow

It is almost time for the most highly anticipated aviation event in KwaZulu-Natal.

On June 4, the skies above Newcastle in northern KZN will play host to the largest airshow in the province – and for the sixth consecutive year organisers Champ Marketing have gone all out.

On Sunday South Africa’s elite acrobatic squad, the South African Air Force (SAAF) Silver Falcons Team 79, will arrive.

While they wait for the event to kick off in full force, Team 79 will visit schools in the area, bringing aviation directly to Newcastle’s classrooms and while the pilots aren’t educating possible future team members, they will be taking to the skies above the Amajuba District.

‘The Silver Falcons will be one of the major attractions at this year’s Airshow,’ said MD of Champ Marketing, Johan Pieters.

‘We are honoured to be one of the few events affiliated with the prestigious team and the SAAF.’

While pilots take their planes to the clouds, visitors to the show will enjoy more than enough entertainment on the ground.

A large variety of food stalls, including Halaal choices will keep the crowds fed, while the thirsty boys and girls can enjoy a cold one courtesy of the beer garden bar manned by the Ncandu 86 Round Table.

‘From motor car exhibitions to some of the most exciting planes in the country, right down to getting a haircut for your toddler or a manicure and pedicure for mom, you will find it all at the Newcastle Airshow.’

The organisers are also excited to announce that this year the Play Park will be back for the little ones to enjoy.

For the adventurous folks helicopter flips will be available from 10am while land-lovers will get to see Menno Parsons’ P51 Mustang Sally, Tiger Huey ZS-HGC chopper and Aero L39 Albatros in action, among many others.

Another popular event, the car versus plane race, will this year feature Neville Ferreira’s Slick 540 going toe-to-toe with a Mercedes Benz AMG beast.

While all is fun and games, the organisers will again this year give young pupils the opportunity to visit the airshow not only for a fun day out – but to learn in the process.

‘We will be hosting an Ubuntu Educational Day for Grade 11 pupils with maths and science,’ said Pieters.

‘700 youngsters from around Northern-Natal will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the Airshow and learn a little more about aviation.’

The pupils will be treated to lunch and refreshments, as well as talks by not only the Civil Aviation Authority and Denel Aviation, but will have the privilege of meeting the Silver Falcons and other pilots, and hear from the SAAF, Vodacom and Air Traffic Navigation Services.

Schools that are interested in sending pupils to attend can contact Sanele Hlatswayo on 074 499 3817.

‘The Newcastle Airshow is not one to miss this year. Grab your binoculars, your camera and your sunglasses and make your way to the Newcastle Airport on 4 June.’

Tickets, at a cost of R50 per adult and R30 for scholars, will be available at the gate which will open at 8am

For more information contact Mr Pieters on 082 923 0078 or Christo van der Vyver on 083 375 5883.


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