Mbombela skies sliced and diced at record breaking air show
Record crowds watched the skies over Mbombela (Nelspruit) being shredded by the deafening roar of fighter jet engines, the whump-whump of helicopter blades and the turbo charged growl of peak performance sports cars, on Friday, 16 June as thousands of spectators thrilled to the adrenalin rush of the 2017 Kishugu Lowveld Air Show, at the Nelspruit Airfield.
“It was one of the most exciting and successful air shows we have ever hosted,” said Johan Heine Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Kishugu Lowveld Air Show. The air show won the award in 2015 as the “best Air show in South Africa” and was runner of the award in 2016.
“These air shows give pilots a great opportunity to demonstrate their flying skills, show off state-of-the-art aircraft as well as the ‘veterans of the skies’ and provide a great day’s entertainment for the general public.”
Heine said the event excited interest in flying among young people, as witnessed by the well-attended Cadet and Youth Day Programme held the day before the air show, to which local schools were invited.”
“It’s really great to be able to provide a platform for our youngsters to engage with the aviation sector to sustain the future of aviation in SA,” he added. Heine said an attraction to aviation as a career encouraged youngsters to increase their knowledge of Mathematics, Science and Technology.
Naranda Leeuwner, Head of Corporate Communication at Kishugu, lead sponsor of the Kishugu Lowveld Air Show, said she was “thrilled” at the success of the air show.
A record crowd of more than 6,000 visitors attended the air show, many travelling from Gauteng,
Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Western Cape for the day.
“A lot of hard work goes into preparing for the air show but it is all worthwhile when we get such awesome support from the aviation community and the general public,” she said.
A highlight of the air show included a thrill-a-minute display by the renowned, South African Air Force (SAAF) Silver Falcons, flying the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II in a 5-ship routine and a “fast and furious” race down the runway between a Jaguar F-TYPE SVR and a French Aérospatiale Gazelle. The race was won by the Jaguar F-TYPE SVR which boasts a top speed of 322km/h.
A touch of high altitude class was introduced when Gary Whitcross executed glider “Ballet in the Sky”, flying a 15 metre wingspan Pilatus PC 11-B4, to the sounds of pan flutes.
Other highlights included a heart-stopping aerobatics display by the Flying Lions Aerobatic Team. Spectators also experienced flight “first hand” though the eyes of a pilot, thanks to state of the art onboard cameras that projected a cockpit view directly onto spectators’ smart phones, giving them the “best seats” in the house.
At the air show, tribute was paid to wildfire firefighters from the DEA-funded, Expanded Public Works Working on Fire (WOF) programme as well as pilots of Kishugu Aviation, who were instrumental in containing the recent wildfires at Knysna on the Garden Route.
Stall holders, selling everything from T-Shirts to caps and badges, memorabilia and food and drink, reported record sales.
The air show ended with a spectacular fireworks display, which lit up the sky above the Nelspruit Airfield.
“All-in-all, it was a great day for aviation and the spectators,” said Trevor Wilson, air show Director. “The success of the event bodes well for the future.”