Early in the morning on the7th of July the weather looked promising with blue skies and a light breeze and we were all looking forward to a great Margate air show. At 10AM the show was opened by a group of Harley Davidsons followed by the emergency personnel.
First up to the excitement of the crowd was the landing of an HS-146 Regional Airliner operated by Airlink. It was nice to see its short field landing but it was disappointing that it did not taxi past the spectators for a better view. Maybe something which should considered next time.
The Zoo York Zlin team once again performed a faultless act with some tight formation flying and exhilarating solo acts in between.
Stewart Saward taxied out with his beautiful Pitts S1 (ZU-PIG), took off with lots of smoke and noise but then disappeared behind some low hanging clouds which moved in very quickly.
The GoodYear Eagles with Dennis Spence at the lead were able to fly a flat sequence bellow the clouds and they were therefore next on the program. Regardless of the low clouds and the restrictions, this team showed why they are a world class act and it is not surprising that they are invited to almost every air show in the country.
At this point the weather deteriorated significantly but there was still hope that the clouds would break up or at least lift so that flying could continue. To give the clouds a chance to disperse, an impressive display was performed by a radio flyer and his remote controlled aircraft. His flying was precise and his sequence was very artistic. He even hovered his aircraft like a helicopter and precisely maneuverer it to hang in the air beside him.
The airport grounds at Margate is great for event organisers with its high fences keeping the crowds away from the aircraft but these fences are very disturbing to the spectators especially during conditions like these when the clouds are delaying the show. The organisers therefore made a bold but good decision to deploy all the marshals between the aircraft and opened the gates to allow the spectators to move between the aircraft and meet the pilots in person while we waited for the weather to improve. This was a fantastic experience to most especially those who were treated by Dave Mandel by allowing them to sit in his L-39 (ZU-JET). For more than an hour it was a buzz on the apron while the clouds started to break up.
With the cloud base slightly higher with patches of blue sky, Brad Bennetts zoomed around with the exceptional flying he is known for.
The L-39 knocked the breath out of us all when it started its display staying low over the runway after take-off with its gear retracted. Jets are a major attraction to these shows and it was once again evident that the crowd like the noise and speed.
When the Atlas Angel took off with some skydivers I had my doubts as the Angel disappeared behind the clouds but a few minutes later skydivers broke through the clouds and made perfect landings right in front of the crowd.
Stewart Saward finally received another opportunity to showcase his Pitts and we hope to see him more often. His display is fast and includes many unusual attitudes with impressive flying.
The last two acts which concluded the day were the Echo Yaks and Gen Dell in his Red Bull Extra. The sound of the Yaks are always great to hear and Glen demonstrated why he was once a world aerobatic champion.
I must say that I thought an entrance fee of R50 was a little high for the event and this showed in the attendance figures. The participating aircraft were of a high standard but the variety was limited.