Warbirds Bloemfontein

By Willie Bodenstein

It was freezing at Bloemfontein but the action was hot and the Chevrolet / Remax sponsored airshow was all that was expected with an action packed program with some of the usual acts and some innovative new ones.



As is customary the show was opened by Skydivers Chris de Jager, Johan Smith, Johan Loubscher, Jackie Schoeman, Llewellyn Henman all from Skydive Central based at New Tempe airfield, the venue for the show.



First to take to the windy Bloemfontein sky was a crowd favourite, the L39 flown by Dave Mundell . Following Dave was the Stearman flown by Robbie Beuamont. After an absence of a number of years when no Stearman's were displayed it is great to see the iconic WWII trainer back at airshows.



The it was the turn for another legendary trainer to took to the sky and thrill the more than 10,000 that braved the cold and unpleasant wind; David Laas's Impala Mk1 flown to perfection by Mike Weingaardz.



If ever than was an aircraft that deserve the title of Warbird it is the DC3 /C47 Dakota and present at Bloemfontein was Springbok Classic Air's superb DC3 flown by Captain Flippie Vermeulen who flew a full load of passengers to the show and was kept busy during the offering flips.



A new twist to the MX2 / Cirrus act followed when two MXs and two Cirrus's one flown by Deon Wentzel and the other by ex Silver Falcon leader Scott Ternent flew a tight and exciting formation displayed before Nigel Hopkins and Mark Hensmann in the Mxs went into one of the best displays of the day.



Nigel then accompanied Menno Parson in the initial stages of the Mustang display before Menno put what must be his favourite toy thought its paces. The Mustang was one of 16 Warbirds that made for an action packed show organised by Kassie Kasselman and Johan Loubscher.



The wind did not abate and was still pumping and despite that and the cold most of the spectators stayed and was rewarded when Glenn Warden taxied the Vampire out for a display that showed its flight envelope to perfection.



North American were responsible for some legendary aircraft including the T6 Harvard and T28 Trojan. Displayed at Warbirds was a formation of one Hravard flown by Larry Beamish with Pierre Gouws in the Trojan and John Wright in a Fenic, a French built version of the Trojan.



Airshow regulars Scully and Eliis Levin, Arnie Menangelli and Sean Thackeray was next in the legendary Eqstra sponsored flying Lions Harvards. Next up was two Tiger Moths, military trainers of a slightly earlier vintage with Johnnie Smith and Henry de Villiers at the controls. Despite the still strong wind they flew a graceful routine.



Deviating from the Warbirds theme and one of only two non warbird acts on the program was Martin Venn in the RV7. The RV7 is the most popular of the best-selling range of RV kit planes and Martin's display showed just why.



A late entry to the show was the Hunter of Ron Wheeldon. Its participation was also confirmed 48 hours before the show when the Buckeye was cancelled because of mechanical problems. Club members raised the R55, 000 appearance fee and the spectators were treated to two spirited displays and the trademark “blue note” of the British Fighter.

Manning the tower was Riaan, DJ Evette and Rau whilst Francois Hannekom kept things safe as Safety Director. The Capital Sounds crew of Leon, Wesley, Chief and Buddy with Brian on the Mike did their magic keeping the crowd informed, entertained and amused.
Did Warbirds live at to its name? Definitely! With no support from the SAAF Kassie and Johan with sponsorship from Chevrolet and ReMax put a program together consisting of 16 iconic warbirds and organized a well run incident free show that was well supported and drew praises from all.







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