Skydiver’s injury doesn’t dampen Ulundi airshow

2014-07-07 00:00

A DURBAN skydiver suffered serious injuries when he crash-landed during the last leg of the KwaZulu-Natal Air Show at Ulundi airport after heavy winds forced him off course.

Nick Ames, from the Durban Sky Dive Centre, was airlifted to Durban’s Virginia airport, and then transported by ambulance to hospital. Netcare 911 spokesperson Santi Steinmann said the man was treated on scene before he was flown to Durban, escorted by a Netcare 911 advanced life support paramedic.

Aviation enthusiasts were not put off by the windy conditions.

“I wanted to be here to see the show,” said Ayanda Sibiya from Jikaza Primary School at Mahlabathini.

The country’s top pilots certainly showed their mettle, entertaining the crowd with their daring aerial displays.

“This tour brings to a close a three-year contract that the KwaZulu-Natal government put forward to promote aviation in the province,” said veteran aviator Brian Emmenis, organiser of the airshow.

“It’s been a very successful and wonderful series and it’s been a safe spectacular. Over a million people have visited and seen these shows.”

MX2 pilot Nigel Hopkins (41) was a crowd favourite. He is the South African champion in aerobatics and captain of South African Airways Airbus A319/A320 Fleet Training.

“I am living my dream,” he said.

Hopkins, a seven-times National South African Rally flying champion, five times SA National Precision Flying champion and twice SA National Aerobatic champion, had to keep smiling as most of the crowd wanted a picture with him when he landed.

Mbali Mngadi (17), a pupil at the George Campbell School of Technology, wants to be a pilot after she completes matric. “I am interested in aviation and I want to be a pilot. I was part of the air tour in the province, and I now understand what is expected of me to become a pilot,” she said.

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