As in the past, the Diaz Festival in Mossel Bay that was held over the weekend of 30 January - 2 February, again included an airshow component. With Standard Bank as main sponsor and various other smaller sponsors, the stage was set for a very interesting event.
The flight line at the airport
The Diaz Festival airshow differs from other airshows in that the displays are flown, not at the airfield, but over the beach front at De Bakke where the main festivities are taking place. This also means the display line emergency vehicles are not land based, but water craft making that makes for an interesting change of scenery.
Harry de Villiers's displaying the Zlin
The main scheduled attraction, like last year, was the Eqstra Flying Lions and everybody was talking about the visit of the "noisy" aircraft. Great was the disappointment when it became known that due to very poor weather condition in Gauteng, the team has found it impossible to safely fly their aircraft to Mossel Bay. The public also looked forward to see and hear the mighty T28 Trojan flown by Dick Henry. Unfortunately a technical issue had Dick swapped it for a Harvard, but that also developed an issue on the way to Mossel Bay, so sadly there was no radial sound to get the people on their feet.
In spite of these setbacks the public were still entertained with some excellent displays. Glen Warden, Nigel Hopkins and Mark Sampson stepped up to give the sundown display on Friday evening and also did some formation flying over the weekend. Their formation display was flown very well, but still did not have the same impact on the crowd as the Eqstra Harvards' big radial engines had last year.
The sunset display
The local skydivers did two para-drops, one the big flag drop and the second a formation of four jumpers.
Skydivers taking off
Other participants were Harry de Villiers in his Zlin 50, Barry Eeles in the Sbach, Justus Venter in the Pitts S1S, Charles Urban in the Extra 300 and Patrick Davidson in the Sukhoi 31. Glen Warden and Nigel Hopkins also flew solo displays in the Extra 300 and MX2 respectively. For change of flavour Len Klopper flying his gyrocopter entertained the crowd with some spectacular manoeuvres too.
Nigel Hopkins in the MX2
Glen Warden in the Extra
Len Klopper during his display
All in all it was an excellent display program, but since it forms part of the festival, and take-offs and landing had to fit in with the aerobatics competition held during the same period at the Mossel Bay airfield the displays were a bit strung out. It was also impossible to hold to any formal schedule as the display pilots had to balance their airshow displayed with their aerobatic displays. This made it a little disappointing for aviation buffs that only wanted to see aircraft and had no interest in the other festival items.