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Some background to start with. In 1986 Brian Emmenis was approached, by Lynne Browne and Cor Beek of the Commercial Aviation Association of South Africa (CAASA), to provide a public address system for the mega trade show called Aviation Africa. At this stage Capital was a fledgling company manned by an all-freelance crew. For this event it was Brian and I and we towed our converted Jurgens Caravan to Rand Airport. At the airport we erected the sound system to cover the entire crowd line. We used a Half Loaf Combi (which is still used to this day), the Caravan and a mixed batch of around ten or twelve Electro Voice speaker cabinets. The two of us ran the whole event. At one stage Brian was called away to the official launch of the Cheetah Fighter at Louis Trichardt which left me alone to run everything, Fun times… I did the music (those years still on cassette), the commentary and the quality control on the system. I recall that I had to do the commentary on the first Turbo Dakota in the country which was based at Wonderboom at the time.
Back to this year.
Preparations for the event started months before we were even certain of getting the contract. As Covid had a major impact on the whole entertainment industry and it was no different for Capital Sounds. Most of the permanent staff was retrenched in 2020 so that even staff had to be arranged for this event. Brian was fortunate to have a huge compliment of, willing and able, freelancers who were eager to be part of the show. Beverley Emmenis had so many arrangements and admin to do which kept her busy for many days and even weeks.
Once the event was officially awarded to Capital Sounds it was all systems GO. The crew was finalised at fourteen members. Sound equipment had to be tested to ensure 100% serviceability. Hotel accommodation was booked. Meals were arranged. Vehicles assigned and clothing selected.
As we are all freelancers, we had to get most of the logistics sorted over weekends when the guys had time off. Cables were rolled and tested. Each trumpet was tested and cleared for service. Amplifier racks, for the satellite units, were tested and sorted. Vehicles were checked and fuelled.
Vehicles consisted of:
· 2 x Mercedes Sprinter outside broadcast studios with trailers.
· 1 x Nissan Navara towing the Yamaha Rhino rapid response utility vehicle.
· 1 x VW Transporter and trailer.
· 1 x VW Half Loaf Transporter.
· 1 x JMC 3-ton truck and trailer.
· 1 x VW Polo for general run around and crew rotation.
Each trailer was loaded with all the equipment needed for the site at which it would be stationed. The JMC truck carried the equipment for the main line and other ancillary items.
Planning was done on experience of previous AAD events. The event is split up in to six sectors. Three sectors covering the hangar area, one covers the southern part of the main crowd line, one at the pilot's enclosure on the western side of runway 01/19 and then the main unit that has overall control of the entire sound system.
The Capital Sounds team arrived at the base on Saturday morning 17 September 2022. After we did our accreditation, at the Waterkloof Officers Mess, it was time to go on site and start the setup.
The riggers Left to right Rodger Coetzee, Philip Scott, Peter Bailey, Jaco Nel, Francois Schutte, Giovan Theunissen, Michiel Rascher, Nico Prinsloo and Dan Mashigo in front.
The 36 speakers, on the main line, was first to go up. The speakers and satellite units, at the hangars, were next. The Broadcast tower then had to be equipped with microphones, radios, comms, antennas, night lighting, tables, chairs and sponsor's banners. Finally, we installed the sound system at the Pilot's enclosure.
Setting up the whole system was achieved over a period of four days. Striking it all on Sunday 25 September took us all of four hours.
The three units at the hangars have each got amplifiers and up to ten trumpet type speakers. The southern unit provides amplification for fourteen cabinet type speakers and covers the crowd line from around air show centre to the southernmost tip of the line. The pilot's enclosure is covered with four Cobraflex Flare speakers and then the main unit has ten cabinet type speakers and sixteen trumpet type speakers that cover from the air show centre to the northern most tip of the line. The main line was measured at a total length of one kilometre so the amount of cable that was laid down was almost double that length.
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All units were linked by way of radio links and each one had, at least, one team member to look after it. Let's call the hangar units Unit one to three, the main line satellite Unit four, the pilot's enclosure Unit five and the main unit Main Control.
On the first Saturday and Sunday we were assisted by Giovan Theunissen and Francois Schutte. As these two crew members could not get leave, for the whole week, they had to return to Welkom on Sunday afternoon 18 September.
The system was tested and signed off on Tuesday afternoon.
Once the whole system was set up each member settled in to their operational roles.
Roving members were Jaco Nel, Peter Bailey and Michiel Rascher. These guys were responsible for getting food for the crew and for the general wellbeing of the whole team. These three also had to patrol the whole area and assist wherever problems were encountered.
Nico Prinsloo was stationed at Unit one, directly opposite the American Corral, but he was also the main problem solver, and muscle, for our team. Philip Scott was responsible for Unit 2, Dan Mashigo Unit 3, Rodger Coetzee Unit 4, Philip Smith Unit 5. Brian Emmenis (Main Commentator and overall Chief in Charge), Leon Du Plessis (Researcher and co-commentator) and Christo vd Berg (Co-commentator in Afrikaans and English) manned the broadcast tower.
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As for me I spent the three trade days and two air show days playing music and the sponsor's radio adverts. This is something that I have done at air shows for the past 37 years. Early days were done with cassettes then we progressed to CD's and now we are on PC's.
The Daily routine was wake up at 05:00, Breakfast at 06:00, off to Waterkloof at around 06:30, start broadcasting at 08:00 and then back to the hotel at around 20:00.
It wasn't all work and no play. We had some lighter moments with a bit of fun on the side.
To host an event of these proportions is only possible through teamwork and a lot of assistance from outside. Here I wish to thank the following persons and entities:
The South African Air Force as a whole and in particular the logistics staff, along with Maj Skippie Scheepers that placed the speaker stands and concrete blocks on the main crowd line.
Gavin Kiggen of Execujet for sponsorship, Shirts, Caps and the great hospitality.
Michelle from Expo Solutions for the assistance in arranging for power to all our units and the meal vouchers for the whole Capital Sounds crew. Kevin, the electrician that ensured that our electricity was stable and made sure that breakdowns were of short duration.
The Air Boss Col Keith Fryer, Air Display Safety Officer Nico Frylinck, the Ramp man Col Keith Andrew, the Air Traffic Controllers and many more… What can I say about these great guys and girls… Awesome job and well done.
On Monday 26 September it was time to return home. We cleared the broadcast tower of the last items and lined up the convoy and headed off. Five hours later I started my last leg from Welkom to Bloemfontein. It was a busy and very hard 10 days for the crew but it was a welcome return for us to the air show fraternity. Here's to AAD 2024 and all the shows in between.
Thank you, Brian and Beverley, for letting us be part of this event. We also thank our wives, and girlfriends, for allowing us to do what we do. And I thank you Cathy.
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