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