SAMAA Model Airshow at Air Force Base Zwartkop

By Garth Calitz

The South African Model Aircraft Association hosted a very successful Airshow on Sunday the 10th March at the Air Force Museum at AFB Zwartkop. The event was very well attended and hopefully brought in much needed funding to assist South Africa's best radio flyers to take part in international competitions. Transporting the aircraft to a competition in Europe will run up a tab of approximately R60, 0000, add to that the pilot's airfare and other expenses and the cost is mind boggling.

The crowd was treated to a variety of displays ranging from the historic biplanes to modern jets all flown with exceptional skill. The show was opened with a display by a Hawk 100. This aircraft unfortunately had a bird strike. The bird entered the front of the canopy and was found on the back seat of the aircraft. Fortunately the pilot managed to land this beautiful model safely.

Many helicopters were displayed including the Bell 222 flown by Andre' Dethioux. The only way to distinguish between this life like model and the real thing was by the sound of the engine. A large number of different types of gliders using a variety of launching methods were displayed. Watching a scale model Piper Pawnee being used as a tug for a scale model glider was truly impressive, the level of flying skill needed to do this had the spectators in awe.

Specialised pylon racers reaching speeds in excess of 360km/h were a big hit, these speedy little aircraft come at an extremely high price. The motors used in them are handmade and costs in the vicinity of R5, 000. These rather expensive little power plants last for approximately 200 flights. With each flight lasting no more than one minute these extremely fast little aircraft are expensive to operate. The pylon racers have no throttle control and run at full power from start-up until they run out of fuel when the pilot has to perform a dead stick landing.

A perfect scale model of a Sopwith Pup was expertly flown by Humphrey Le Grice. This aircraft has been built as an exact replica of the original and as with the original landing the Pup is difficult in windy conditions. Kieth Renecle flew his fly-by-wire Newtron Electric Stunter proving that fly-by-wire models are very capable of doing aerobatic manoeuvres even in 30 knot winds. How these guys don't get dizzy I don't know. The Newtron Stunter sports an engine timer that cuts the motor after one minute of flight, this enables the pilot to land it without damage, Kieth is also the designer of this system.

A wonderful display of the SAAF Dakota C47 was followed by the Vampire T55 flown by Dean from Aerial Concepts the main sponsors of the show. This aircraft built by Dale and Glen Roberts is an exact scale model of the SAAF Museum Vampire 277, every detail of the original has been reproduced perfectly in this model. Little wonder then that it was placed 4th in the world championship in 2012.

The show was closed by displays by the big jets including the new Skygate Viperjet flown by Davon Lambrecht an airline pilot with more than 12, 000 hours in wide body jets.

Marthinus Potgieter and the rest of the organisation team did a wonderful job of putting this show together, Well done guys. For more information please visit


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