MBOMBELA – After much anticipation, it was finally time to rock around the clock at the Kishugu Lowveld Air Show on Saturday.
With a “Rock the Runway” theme this year, guests were left saying, “Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!”
The day started with the rumbling engines of Harley-Davidsons, an exhilarating drop by the South African National Defence Force skydivers and hot-air balloons greeting guests from the skies.
A highlight of the day was the flight of the very first South African-owned Black Hawk helicopter.
Other aerial stunners included the Huey helicopters, the jet display and aerial acrobatics by the country’s leading pilots, including Nigel Hopkins. Aerial enthusiasts were also excited to welcome favourites Team Torre Pitts, Goodyear Eagles, Tailift COWS Formation Aerobatic Pitts Team, as well as the Pumas Flying Lions, which did a stunning sunset display.
The crowd literally jumped to their feet and rushed to the fence to witness the Jaguar and the Range Rover Sport Supercharge take on the Gazelle helicopter. They were neck and neck, but in the end the vehicles managed to clinch the win.
Emnotweni, one of the sponsors of the event, donated R21 000 to a special local charity.
“It is our 21st birthday and we wanted to give back to the community. Sponsors had a chance to nominate a charity and locals could then vote for the charity,” said Emnotweni CEO, Adam McIntyre.
The four charities with the most votes were placed next to the runway where the winner was decided by means of a skydiver landing on one of them. The winner of the prize was Jumpstart Metaffin, nominated by Vodacom.
Festivalgoers could also enjoy beer tents and amazing food stalls.
The kiddies’ play area was the biggest one to date and was hosted by the Just 4 Fun team, which is well known for its huge kids entertainment area at the Uplands Festival each year. It was filled with happy faces throughout the day.
“The jets are a highlight for us,” said local couple, Titus and Terri Slabbert. “Everything here is awesome for us and we have had the best day.”
Local Carla Coetzee attended her first-ever air show and said she would definitely come back next year.
“My favourite part was all the aerial stunts they did. I just love it.”
The rock star aerial performances ended with a party on the runway with local band Gibraltar who entertained guests until late, with a spectacular fireworks display as the backdrop.
There was no smoke on the water but tons of smoke in the sky and entertainment that shook festivalgoers all day (and night) long.
Inspiring the youth to pursue aviation careers
The 2018 Kishugu Lowveld Air Show was preceded by cadet day on Friday. “Kishugu invited schools, as well as
200 students who have excelled in math and science, to come join in the fun and learn more about a profession in aviation,” said Kishugu spokesman, Simoné de Swardt.
“We anticipated about 2 000 children but I am sure here is a lot more and they all seem to be enjoying themselves,” she added.
Several aviation professionals spoke to the children. This included pilots, air force officials and Working on Fire staff.
“I have done this for such a long time, and I just love sharing my passion for my job with the children. Hopefully inspiring them to follow suit one day,” said Fl Sgt Dick de Bruin.
There was also a flight simulator where children had the opportunity to get on board a replica aircraft and attempt to fly it.
Pilots also had a chance to warm up for Saturday’s air show with a few tricks that left every child with a twinkle in their eye.
This was a fun initiative by Kishugu to give back to the community and promote
the greatness of aviation.