Smoke & Go
DareDevil of the Skies - Menni Parsons
Ask anyone. Menno is one of the kindest hearts and brightest minds on the local airshow circuit. Like Daredevil, whose one act of bravery to save someone’s life marked the start of his life as a superhero, Menno has built up a number of incredible acts of kindness that may well surpass his collection of aircraft.
For those crowd-pleasing jaw-dropping manoeuvres, Menno’s low-flying displays in his P51 Mustang require a near-supernatural enhancement of his senses, just like that of his superhero counterpart.
Through a combination of tutelage and self-training, Menno has mastered business and aerobatics in equal measure through the strength, agility and endurance usually associated with a Marvel superhero.
A self-made man with a superhuman heart, Menno is definitely one man who lives a full life, mostly because he doesn’t know how to hold back when he’s giving. Whether it’s in his displays or on a personal level, he’s always pushing boundaries.
After 23 years of flying helicopters, operating the Soc Trang Tiger is yet another expression of Alister Brown’s fervour for rotary wing
machines. “A squadron in Vietnam actually had a pet tiger, will you believe it? And that’s why this beauty is named as such.” The helicopter is used for fire-fighting and heavy lifting, and is fast becoming a favourite for specators.
The Flash - Chris Briers
Regarded as one of the fathers of the airshow circuit in South Africa, Chris Briers is renowned for his super short take-offs and fast-paced displays. Like The Flash, the countdown has hardly begun in the heads of spectators and already, Chris is in the sky!
From the Trojan T-28, a piston-engine military trainer aircraft used by the US Air Force, to the Embraer EMB Brasilia twin-turboprop commuter, Chris is comfortable and adept at displaying any aircraft. While he is a successful businessman as CEO of AirTeam, Chris’ unmistakable passion for aviation can be seen in his breathtaking displays that wow the crowds at airshows across the country.
IT IS No coincidence that he is likened to The Flash. Chris is also highly regarded for his camera work in aviation, producing some of the finest photographic collections from the local airshow scene.
Flying almost under the radar, evading the limelight like The Flash, Chris is a quiet behind-the-scenes aerobatic pilot who continues to actively contribute to the growing popularity of airshows in South Africa.
37 The Eqstra Flying Lions
For this formation aerobatic team that has enjoyed flying together for the past 15 years, the “superheroes” of the Eqstra Flying Lions
have always been their aeroplanes, the T-6 Harvards.
Regarded as the backbone of South Africa’s aviation heritage, the Harvard, as Scully Levin will tell you, is “the finest pilot trainer ever built!”.
The Harvards were a natural choice for Arnie Meneghelli who acquired four planes from the South African Air Force after they had been
decommissioned as trainers. It was in the shared hangar space at Rand Airport that Scully and Arnie met and fostered a friendship
which, over the years, has developed into a relationship akin to a brotherhood.
Each with a passion for aerobatics in equal measure, the two decided to create a formation aerobatic team, and so the Flying Lions were
Arguably the most recognisable face of aerobatics in South Africa and abroad, Scully is the team leader. he has 32 years and more than 2 000 airshow displays to his credit. Like Hannibal from the A-Team, Scully relishes every airborne moment, and loves it “when a plan comes
together”. in aviation circles, Scully’s appeal lies in the boyish excitement with which he approaches every flight and every airshow.
Left wingman in the formation team is Ellis Levin who, thanks to Scully, started his aerobatic career at the age of 17. The adventurous and innovative “funnyman” always has something up his sleeve. Ellis fills the role of “Murdoch”, keeping the team in high spirits at all times.
Team owner and muscleman Arnie is the right wingman. The “Mr T” in the team only started flying aerobatics when he was 49 years old, and co-founded the Flying Lions when he was 53.
In this team, the character of “Face”, the most gentle member of the A-Team, is Sean Thackwray. An ardent warbird lover and acclaimed aviation artist, Sean fulfils the role of the soloist for the Eqstra Flying Lions.
Eqstra, a JSE-listed company, signed as the Flying Lions’ sponsor in 2012. Eqstra’s core business is the distribution, long-term lease and rental of mobile capital equipment and the provision of related value-added annuity services to clients in the construction, mining, industrial and commercial sectors in SA, the rest of Africa, the uk and Ireland.