Piet Vermaak and the rest of the organising team once again hosted a magnificent air show at Bultfontein on the 10th of March 2012. After attending the event during 2011 I was pleasantly surprised when I approached to see a beautifully tarred runway 05/23. This was of course one of the highlights of the event and this new runway, revamped with the support of the local municipality was officially opened by a parade of school children from the area, a group of motorcycles, vintage cars and a ribbon cutting ceremony by the Bultfontein mayor.
The effect of the global economic downturn was clearly visible as less than thirty visiting aircraft flew in for the day. The support was much less than last year but I am sure that those who attended will agree that it was absolutely worth it and will return next year.
Brian Appleton arrived with the L-39 (ZU-TEE) in the capable hands of Charles Urban and I could see the joy on Brian's face (how did you get this right Brian?). Charles also flew a beautiful display later in the day.
The first air show act of the day was the GoodYear
Pitt Special team with Dennis Spence at the lead. This was as usual a flawless act and the switch blade
created some anxiety and noise from the spectators.
In their new EQSTRA
colours the Harvards almost appear to be a new formation team in the air show circuit. Scully Levine and his team again demonstrated what a four ship formation should look like but I sometimes wonder if the spectators actually realise what type of experience, practice and concentration this act requires and that the beautiful sound is only a small part of this performance.
The speed and sound of the P-51 Mustang flown by Meno Parsons was thrilling. Meno also gave one of the political figures present on the day the flight of her life making all the rest of us envious.
And then a baboon (or was it a gorilla) arrived in a Yak 52. It first flew a super display and then disrupted the show to the entertainment of the crowd by trying to steel another aircraft before being escorted away by the police.
The Harvard & Yak formation flown by Pierre Gouws, Larry Beamish and Jason Beamish was another highlight of the day. During this display there were some very close flying and a few unique routines during this act.
South Africa has many fantastic display pilots and can compete internationally any time but if you have not seen Nigel Hopkins in his MX, then you have seen nothing yet!! Nigel's display was near the end of the event and I suppose the organisers kept the best for last.