See planes race over the ocean in the ‘biggest aviation event in SA’

2014-01-22 00:00

INTERNATIONAL aerobatics pilots will strut their stuff in the Durban airspace and waters come March, during the first Durban Land, Sea & Air Festival.

According to organisers, the event on March 21 to 23, is the very first of its kind in southern Africa.

The festival’s main event is the Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics, which will see five international pilots travel to SA to compete against the best of the local aerobatics pilots.

Planes will race, twist, turn and be pushed to the extreme as they blitz through multi-storey pylons and fight to complete a flawless aerobatic routine — right over the beaches of Durban’s pristine golden mile.

The event is billed as “the biggest aviation event in South Africa” and it’s free to the public.

Organisers will also bring sea events, put on by the SA Navy and the event flight director will entertain the crowds with acts usually performed at the country’s top airshows.

Children will be able to see ships, boats, helicopters, planes and much more at close range.

The festival’s main attraction is the never-before-seen-in-South Africa Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics where the best South African and international pilots will perform heady aerial moves and races over the ocean to see who are the finest and fastest pilots. A ranking system using the National Championships score and a regional contest was conducted to choose the South African participants. So far the top six confirmed South African pilots are Nigel Hopkins, Patrick Davidson, Mark Hensman, Barrie Eales, Bertus du Preez and Johnnie Smith. The last four positions will be filled after the final contest in Parys on March 2.

Festival-goers will also be treated to a variety of displays by the Navy, SAPS and other water sport competitions. These include the Navy brass band and a submarine demonstration. Live music, air-themed movies and other land activities will keep the crowds going well into the night.

Festival organiser Brian Emmenis from Capital Sounds, said, “We have been planning the festival since mid-2013 and are very excited to bring this event to Durban. Nowhere else in the country are people able to watch so many exhilarating displays over and in the sea. The Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics alone will feature world champion pilots who compete against each other regularly on the international airshow stage. It’s going to be electric!”

The event is supported by the eThekwini Municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal government. “Due to the beachfront’s easy access and the fact that the festival is free, this event will provide the opportunity for all members of the community to experience the thrills and exciting action that makes it unique,” Vivienne Holden, senior event manager at Durban’s Strategic Projects said.

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