Retired SAA Captain Flippie Vermeulen, the owner of Rand Airport based Springbok Classic Air, is without a doubt the South African who has flown the most displays in international airshows. Flippie has appeared in the USA at Oshkosh (DC-4), the Royal International Air Tattoo (DC-4), the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton Airshow in a Boeing 747, in Belgium as well as in Germany.
Flippie and Ali next to his Pitts Special that he flew during the show.
Flippie and son Ben at the Sivrihisar International Sportive Aviation Air Park in Turkey.
So when Ali Ismet Öztürk, the owner of Sivrihisar International Sportive Aviation Air Park in Turkey invited Flippie and son Ben to display the ex Breitling DC-3 at the airpark's 2019 airshow they naturally jumped at it.
Developed as a private venture by Ali Ismet Öztürk, Sivrihisar International Sportive Aviation Center (SUSHM), Necati Artan Facilities opened its doors in March 2014. Built on approximately 1000 acres of land 2790 feet above sea level, the park's main 23-meter-wide runway (05-23) is 1810 meter in length. Next to the main runway there is a grass track for gliders and other light aircraft.
There are two apron areas; a west apron and an east apron. The west apron, the operational side of the park, consists of maintenance and business hangars that houses various Turkish and international aeronautical companies as well as the administrative office building of the air park.
Flippie and Ben standing in front of the DC-3 in one of the parks spotlessly clean immaculate hangars.
Also located on the west apron is the MSO Aviation Museum. The museum features exhibits that traces and illustrates world aviation as well as information about aircraft with historical value that have contributed to the development of aviation. Some of the aircraft on display are airworthy and were displayed in the airshow.
The East Apron houses the OCC (Operation Control Center), a VIP Building and technical hangars and offices reserved for flight training schools and academic units. This is the public area from which VIP's, invited guests and the general public assemble during the Air Show.
A first in Turkey, in addition to the two apron areas the park caters for general aviation in all its forms. Light aircraft flights, parachute jumps, gliding, flight training schools, model aircraft shows, airshows and acrobatics camps are all organized are also organized by the Sivrihisar International Sportive Club based at the Airpark.
The ex Breitling DC-3 that Flippie and son Ben flew in the show is now one of the exhibits in the museum. Bought by a US airline company in 1940 and named 'Flagship Cleveland' she was active when the US entered WWII taken into service by the American Air Forces (USAAF)and was sent to Europe. During this transfer flight, when she landed on "South Greenland" in order to buy fuel, the crew saw a German submarine lurking close by. Dismantling the access door and using hand grenades that formed part of its cargo, they overflew the submarine dropping the grenades on it and damaging it rather severely. Flagship Cleveland therefore become the first and the only DC-3 used in the bomber role.
Flippie and Ben departed from O.R. Tambo on a Turkish Airlines flight on 10 September for a direct flight to Istanbul. They then took a flight to Ankara where they were collected for the dive to the airpark. On the 11th they did a familiarization flight and on the 12th, a number of 10 to 15 minutes passenger flights. On the 13th they practiced their display routine for the originally planned two displays on the Saturday and the Sunday.
This year's event was the fourth held since the opening of the field in 2014 and it hosted a large number of local as well as international display pilots and teams.
Andy (Andrew) Goodall who flew the T6G (7726), Lee Proutfoot the P-51 and Martin Lovell displayed the MD 500, all of whom were from the UK.
The T-6 is an ex SAAF Harvard that was originally a AT-6 or a SNJ and then rebuilt into a T-6G in 1953. Not given a 182- c/n, it was one of 30 created by Volitan Aircraft Services in California of which all were given SA- c/ns ranging from 052 to about 080. Therefore, there is no way at present in knowing what the original airframe was. Sold in Chile in March 1993 it first became N26WR before N726KM which it is now. It, like the P-51 and MD 500, are part of the fleet that belongs to Ali.
The P-51 displayed by Lee Proutfoot ……………
………and the MD 500 displayed by Martin Lovell.
The two-day program was packed with action and a variety of performers including the Turkish Air Force. Flippie and Ben's display was one of the highlights, so much so that they did a second slot flying in formation with the Harvard and Yaks.
From the sound of it the Sivrihisar International Sportive Aviation Center Air Show is one that should be on any aviation enthusiast's bucket list.