Where there is a will, there is a way the organisers of the Zandspruit airshow proved on Saturday 13 June. In 2013 they held their first show ever and were judged the second best airshow of the year. Then the new safety regulations were introduced and it seemed that they would not be able to comply and no show was held in 2014. They were determined though and with the same drive and vision that has made Zandspruit a world renowned development they faced the problems head on and with some creative thinking came up with a solution. The aerobatic box was repositioned to more or less follow the Zandspruit River thus overcoming the 100 meter rule whilst the threshold of the runway threshold was moved approximately 100 meters away from its normal position allowing the spectators to still be close enough to the action but at a safer distance.
It is a fact that we, in global terms, only have a small number of display teams and pilots with display ratings which means that the same displays basically move from one event to another. However with a bit of creative thinking variety is possible. Nelspruit did it a few weeks ago and Zandspruit took it a step further with……..
A Stearman and L-39 in formation, probably a world first
A Waco and Stearman in formation
Three legendary jet trainers flying side by side. A L-29, Impala and L-39
The MX2 and Bell 407 dusk display
Two Bat Hawks, SA's bestselling LSA
Three legendary North American products, the T-28 Trojan and a P-51 Mustang
That said no airshow can survive or draw the crowds without the stalwarts……………..
ZU-IMP, the Atlas Impala
The stick to each other like glue display of the Eqstra Flying Lions in their North American Harvards
The absolute perfection of the SAAF's Silver Falcons displays
The heart stopping antics of the Goodyear Pitts Specials.
The breath taking aerobatics displays of Nigel Hopkins in the MX2
The ExtremeAir Sbach expertly flown by Johnnie Smith
The perfection and gracefulness of the Gabriel Pitts Specials formation displays
The scream of the Mustang during a high speed pass
The Skydivers, the daredevils of the sky piloting their canopies to perfection
Then there are those that may not be regulars but are household names none the less and when they do make an appearance they bring a freshness and excitement to any show………………..
The L-29, "Austrian Eagle"
And the L-29 Albatros
The Bell 407
The water bombers
The SAAF, once the mainstay of Airshows, now unfortunately because of budgetary constraints seldom seen
The helicopter "School Master of the Sky", the Robinson R-44. In the right hands it can be an amazing machine.
The Eqstra Flying Lions dusk show
Then there are the new kids on the block, those that are trying to make a name for themselves.
The Kittyhawks. They might be the new kids on the block but their display is fresh, professional and extremely well-choreographed.
And that in my humble opinion is what makes a great airshow and Zandspruit had it all. Zandspruit was a great airshow, probably the best of the year so far.
Airshows not only entertain but also educate and sometimes creates an enduring love for the magic of flying leading to a new generation of aviators. When next at an airshow, just look around and see the number of kids playing with toy aircraft, you may just be looking at a future fighter pilot or the captain on a commercial flight.
Charlie Marais and Chris Briers were the Airbosses and except for some wildlife that crossed the runway the show were incident free. Thank you to Brian Emmenis of Capital Sounds for allowing me to join their mini convoy to Zandspruit and back and for the informative and entertaining commentary during the show.
A special word of thanks to BUCON Hardware and Building Materials of Hoedspruit for their hospitality and treating us like royalty.
For more information on BUCON go to: www.buco.co.za