Following the phenomenal success of last year when they were judged the Best Airshow of the Year Kishugu and the Lowveld Aero Club this year pulled out all the stops to make sure that the title will remain in Nelspruit.
Friday night relaxing under the wing of the Mirage IIICZ being regaled by the legendary Rooivalk pilot Colonel Charlie Marais
Nelspruit Airfield with its 1,000 meter tarred runway and scenic mountains provided a spectacular backdrop to the event that this year was packed with a variety of acts that thrilled the more than the almost 7,000 visitors that flocked to witness a full day's actions.
Early morning at the field. Although overcast in the morning the weather cleared later
There definitely are a number of airshow organisers that can learn from the Lowvelders. The show was superbly organised, entry on the Saturday was a breeze with sufficient parking and numerous marshals to direct both visitors and others to their relevant parking areas. There was only one noticeable break between acts; most acts took off as soon as the previous acts have landed.
As per last year innovation is what again for me made Lowveld a great show. Relying on the same old formula year after year does just not work anymore. To really wow the crowd each show needs to be fresh and the Lowvelder's did just that. Sure the show had most of the regulars, but they also combined some of the acts and introduced other acts seldom seen before.
Capital Sounds was present with their full team and state of the art outside broadcasting equipment. The majority of commentary was done by Colonel Charlie Marais and others whilst Brian Emmenis was on standby to build up the excitement whenever necessary.
Some of the Capital Sounds team members ready to insure all the spectators are kept informed and entertained
I have never arrived at a show and to see a gaggle of colourful hot air balloons gently drifting between the hills. Manny an early visitor stopped on the road side to watch the majestic sight as they one after the landed.
Two of the gaggle of hot air balloons that arrived early on Saturday morning and landed close to the field
Officially opening the show was a troop of Skydivers that jumped from one of Kishugu's fleet of Huye Helicopters.
The Skydivers descended against the overcast sky and landed with pinpoint precision at show centre
Fittingly the first aircraft that took the sky was the Piper Super Cub flown by Mark Jackson owner of Nelspruit based Leading Edge Aviation and pilot extraordinaire.
Mark displayed the Cub to perfection
Following Mark was another local Etiene Oosthuizen in his Kitfox.
Etiene has displayed in various shows and flies for the Batelleurs
Another local Andrew Pappas owner of Micro Aviation was next in his Bat Hawk. Andrew's well equiped factory is just outside Nelspruit and he always display the Bat Hawk to perfection.
The Bat Hawk powered by the Cammit engine is the bestselling South African designed and built aircraft with hundreds in service all over Africa
Radio controlled aircraft are almost an essential part of all aviation events and the Lowveld Model Aircraft Club (LOMAC ) that is situated near Rockys Drift between Nelspruit and White River in Mpumulanga was there in force. The club has a 240+ meter tarred runway with huge mowed grass run-offs (perfect for large scale and turbine jet aircraft), taxi ways and a paved pit area as well as shaded grand stand seating for spectators and visitors who we warmly welcome.
A RC model jet like those displayed on Saturday are not cheap. Expect to pay R100,000.00 plus
Nelspruit based Kishugu has its roots in forest and wildfire fighting, suppression and prevention industry. It has a wealth of international experience and a strategic approach to Integrated Fire Management Services. Kishugu operates a large fleet AirTractor 802 aircraft and Bell Huye Helicopters that are deployed to risk areas on a seasonal basis to fight fires.
To feast your eyes on the largest collection of operational Huye's you must go to Nelspruit. According to local sources they actually breed Huye's in Nelspruit
Apparently they not only breed helicopters but some extraordinary pilots as well. One of them is Danie Terblance well known for his amazing displays in his Robinson R22. On Saturday Danie had the crowd on their feet with crazy flying in the Husky.
Danie in the Husky
And later leaving even the Lowveld Model Aircraft Club in awe with his display in the R44
And even later dancing in the sky with Juba Joubert in the Gazelle
Ex SAAF Helicopter Pilot Juba Joubert is a legend in his own lifetime. At the SAAF Museum Airshow he thrilled the crowds with his display in the Allo III. At Nelspruit he had them gasping at his antics in the Gazelle.
Juba in the Gazelle. The Gazelle is fast becoming a regular sight in the country
Juba later on flew the Gazelle in a race against a Jaguar. At the time of going to press the result was still in dispute
Lowveld featured two of the world's best aerobatic pilots and Nigel Hopkins in the Extra 330SC and Mark Hensman in the MX2. Mark and Nigel showed the crowd why they are so highly rated with a breath-taking, high energy precision display that left the sky filled with smoke and the crowd cheering for more.
Nigel in the Porche SA, Cirrus Aircaft and Master Power sponsored Extra
Mark in MX2
Nigel and Mark later joined the Raptors RV Team and Jason Beamish in the Extra 300 for a seven display a first for a show in the country
Nigel later went on to race a 911 Porche and had so must fun doing it that the Porche won by a large margin
The ambassadors of the South African Air Force the Silver Falcons flew from their base at Langebaan. It was the first display of Team 80 and despite two new members the team's four ship formation display was up to its usual high standard.
The precision formation display of the Falcons has made them a household name
Jason Beamish is a name to remember. This youngster has already performed at some of the most prestigious shows abroad and on Saturday at Nelspruit showed why.
Jason's solo display in the Absolute Aviation sponsored Extra was up there with the best
The Flying Lions Harvard's' almost did not make it because of low clouds and inclement weather over the mountains but such is the passion for aviation of these legends that they flew in on Saturday for a display of the highest quality. The team consists of renowned pilots Scully Levin, Arnie Meneghelli, Ellis Levin and Sean Thackwray, and have been in thrilling the crowds in the African Sub Continent for more than 14 years.
Arnie, Scully Ellis and Sean doing what they do best; thrilling the crowds
If the weight of a lump of steel guzzling gas and hanging on to the front of an aircraft is not for you then you must be a glider pilot. Gary Whitecross is one of the best as he again proved at Nelspruit. Gary Whitecross started flying in the mid-1970s and has flown most aircraft types from paragliders to jets, including multi engine commercial aircraft, helicopters, micro lights and Gliders.
Watching Gary's display one realise why he is the winner of multiple Regional Gliding and Paragliding Championships and has represented South Africa at the World Gliding Championships 2014
No Airshow can be complete without at least one jet, preferably of military vintage and once again the Lowveld Air Show did not disappoint. A L29, L39 and Impala arrived in formation to fill the sky with the smell of Jet A1 and jet noise and the crowds would have gone home happy but more was to follow.
Pierre Gouws, Koos Kieck and Mike Weingardz arriving in formation
Under the leadership of Scully Levin, the Torre Aerobatic Team has forged a brotherhood of pilots that has been flying together for some 20 years and his thrilled millions with their brand of precision formation flying in the diminutive Pitts bi-planes.
At the Lowveld Air Show they again showed why they have been an indispensable part of any airshow
Mark Hill and crew visited in the Just Love Mission Antonov AN2. The AN2 is the largest single engine bi-plane ever constructed and it was manufactured in huge numbers. Mark and his crew always displays its full flight envelope to perfection.
The vision of the Just Love Mission is to change people's lives positively through neighbourly love (Ubuntu) by means of aviation awareness
Although relatively newcomers on the airshow scene the Raptors Vans RV formation team are such polished performers with a uniquely choreograph display that they are now one of the must be invited teams to any show.
The team in formation on Saturday with Nigel, Mark and Jason. The team in mentored by Piere, Larry Beamish and Nigel Hopkins
Closing the aviation part of the show was another Lowveld first; a dusk displayed by the Silver falcons and Flying Lions followed by a precision choreograph Torra Torra attack by the Flying Lions with exploding fireworks.
The Lowveld Air Show was a great show. All involved can give themselves a pat on the back. You, in my opinion did it again. I can't wait see what you pull out of the hat next year!