DURBAN-LAND SEA AND AIR FESTIVAL SATURDAY 22 MARCH 2014
By WILLIE BODENSTEIN
Saturday was the day everyone has been looking forward to and it did not disappoint. The weather was glorious with clear blue skies. The wind however pumped and for most of the day the pylons remained uninflated. This however did not seem to bother the pilots and as expected the competition was fierce.
The compulsory unlimited course designed by the judges that the ten finalists had to fly included some tricky manoeuvres that caused problems to some of the contestants whilst others failed to complete the course in the prescribed time and incurred heavy penalties.
The overseas contingent consisted of some of the cream of the crop of European Aerobatic Aces and they were expected to do well and took three of the five places finishing in first, second and fourth places. The South African's again showed why our pilots are regarded as some of the best in the world and finished in second and fifth place.
Francois le Vot of France a 43 year old with 4, 000 hours flying time of which 1, 500 are in military jets and the current world number and the 2013 World Aerobatic Champion added the Durban Sky Grand Prix crown to his already impressive list of titles. South Africa's own young aerobatics wiz kid Patrick Davidson finished in second place beating Russia's Mikhail Mamistov who finished third. Local hero, Nigel Hopkins finished in fourth place ahead of the Germany's Phillip Steinbach who finished in fifth position. The rest of the South African's brought up the rear with Mark Hensman seventh, Bertus du Preez in ninth place followed by Barrie Eeles tenth.
Phillip Steinbach in the Sbach
Nigel Hopkins in the MX2
The organisers showed that if there is a will, there is a way. The Sky Grand Prix from a spectator's point of view was a huge success and it will hopefully become a regular feature on the airshow calendar.
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