2014-THE YEAR AHEAD
By Willie Bodenstein
This is not only the first issue of 2014 but also our 100th since we started Pilots Post less than two years ago. Since that first issue Pilots Post, South Africa's first free Web based magazine, has been growing beyond our wildest dreams. In our first month of publication we had 15,650 hits. In December and issue 99 this grew to 50,960 hits for the month and our unique readers now exceeds 8600 per month. Our Facebook group page has grown more than 1000 members. If you haven't joined us yet, do it now!
As we enter 2014 we can again look forward to a calendar filled with aviation events. Opening the season on the 31 January is the Dias Festival Airshow at Mosselbay followed a week later by the extremely popular MISASA Shootout at Tedderfield.
March is packed with events starting with the Swellendam Fly-in on the 1st and the Bultfontein Wings and Wheels on the 8th. Then it's time for something different, the SA Navy Festival at Simonstown from the 13 to 15 March and yes, it does include aircraft. A pure adrenalin rush is what you can expect at the Durban Sky Grand Prix scheduled to take place on the Durban beach front from the 21 to 23 March. A number of the world's best aerobatic pilots are expected to take part. This is one not to be missed. The final event in March is the PASASA Touring Motor Glider Fly in on the 22 March at Kitty Hawk.
April starts with a across the border visit for the Namibian International Airshow taking place over the first weekend of the month. It is especially heartening to see Airshows in our neighbouring countries with shows now regularly organised in Swaziland, Botswana and Kenya. Then on it's off to the heart of the Bushveld and the SAA Pilot's Association Fly-in and Airshow scheduled for the 11 to 13th.
May offers even more than March with a total of eight events currently planned! The Aero Club Week takes place at from 1 to 4 May at Rand Airport (venue still to be confirmed) and a week later on the 10th it's time again for multi Airshow of the Year winners, the SAAF Museum Show at AFB Zwartkops . The same weekend one can either fly to Stellenbosch for Fashkosh or to Battlefields for the Country Lodge Fly-in. The extremely successful KZN Winter Tour kicks off with the Dundee Airshow on the 7th followed by the Ladysmith show on the 24th. Next and scheduled for the weekend of the 29 to 31 is the Presidents Trophy Air Race that this year moves to Gariep Dam , a more central location for this iconic event. The last event of the month is the third leg of the KZN Winter Tour, the New Castle Airshow.
June and the KZN Winter Tour is now in full swing with Pietermaritzburg on the 7th, Margate on the 14th, Richardsbay on the 21st and Mkuze on the 28th. The only event not in KZN during the month is the Mafikeng Memorial War Fly-in to be held from the 20 to 21st.
July sees the conclusion of the Winter Tour with the Ulundi Airshow on the 5th and the Durban Airshow at Virginia on 12th. Virginia is the longest running airshow in the country and the highlight of the Winter Tour. EAA Taildraggers at Nylstroom now in its fourth year and already the fly in that's a must is scheduled for the weekend of 18 to 20 July. The Botswana International Airshow is set to take place on the last weekend of the month. Friendly hospitable people and accommodating customs officials makes this a memorable and pleasant cross border trip. On the 28 July the annual pilgrimage to Oshkosh in the USA starts. We will again bring you day to day updates from the world's biggest aviation event.
August is another month with a show every weekend. The Race of Champions takes place at Ulundi from the 6 to 10th followed by the Lichtenburg Airshow on the 16th, the Grand Rand Airshow, winners of last year's Airshow of the Year Award on the 17th, the Klerksdorp Show on the 23rd with Bethlehem on the 30th.
New comers last year and Airshow of the Year finalists Zandspruit takes place on 6th September at Zandspruit Bush and Aero Estate and then it's time for Africa Aerospace and Defence, the biggest exhibition of defence and related equipment and services in the southern hemisphere. Set take to take place at AFB Waterkloof from the 17 to 21st the first three days of AAD are reserved for trade visitors only whilst the Airshow held on the Saturday and Sunday are open to the public. The PASASA TMG fly-in at Parys on the 27th is the last event of the month.
The only other events currently scheduled for the remaining of the year are the Uptington Airshow scheduled for 3 to 4 October and the Mafikeng Fly-in and hangar dance from 14 to 15 November.
The above is by no means complete and does not include any of the Power Flying or Sport Aerobatic competitions. Regulars that are still absent are Warbirds at Tempe, Bush Pilots at Baberton, the Alldays Fly-in, EAA Convention, Sun 'n Fun at Tempe and many more fly-ins and other events that are bound to be announced as the year progress. As soon as we receive the information it will be added to the calendar of events. Organisers are invited to send us details of events planned. If we are unable to attend a report with pictures will be most welcome!
We will again endeavour to cover all events and will in the Midweek Update keep our readers informed about the latest local and international news.
We wish all our readers, advertisers and contributors a prosperous 2014. Safe flying and blue skies and let us all promise to be "Safety First Aviators"
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