Airborne thriller

2014-06-09 00:00

WITH necks straining and eyes squinting up into the clear skies and bright winter sunshine, those who watched the Winter Air Tour’s Pietermaritzburg leg on Saturday saw a terrifyingly spectacular show.

The show attracted a large crowd into Pietermaritzburg Airport, while many others gathered around the periphery of the runway where they also had a good view of the thrilling action.

Almost 50 children from local schools were given the chance to experience their first flight during the air show and were awarded certificates by Federal Airlines.

Federal Airlines customer service agent Grace Booi said the flights provided an opportunity for the pupils to experience a taste of the world of aviation as they choose their careers, saying they aimed to stimulate interest in children about the aviation industry and its opportunities.

After her flight, Nkonzo Mtolo — a Grade 12 pupil from Carter High School — was very excited.

“I am interested in becoming an air traffic controller. I am happy that I had the opportunity to be here. Now I know what to do,” said Mtolo.

“If I can’t get a bursary to be a pilot, as it is expensive, I will have to join the military. Maybe there I can be trained as one,” said an amazed Sinegugu Ngcobo from Zamazulu Secondary School after his flight.

Development director Stuart Weston was pleased with the turn-out and reaction of the pupils.

Pietermaritzburg was buzzing with the noise from the aircraft flying over the city during the air show.

Sthembiso Khumalo from Mpumuza area told The Witness that he enjoyed the show standing in his yard at home.

“I could see the aircraft spinning. I did not have money to be at the show and I didn’t know about it,” said Khumalo.

Those who were at the airport were allowed to look at the Airlink planes and the other aircraft on the runway. They used the opportunity to take pictures of themselves to send to family and friends who were not at the show, some posting their selfies to social networks.

Spectators screamed and clapped in delight as the famous Silver Falcons 5 performed seemingly death-defying stunts at the event. Some spectators had a chance to speak to the pilots of the aircraft and get autographs.

Department of Treasury economist Clive Coetzee said air shows are no longer about people just sitting under trees watching aircraft.

“We are also showcasing our regional airport, which comes with a lot of business opportunities as well as a lot of economic spin-offs.”

He added that a lot of changes had taken place at the regional airport in the past three years.

The KZN Winter Air Tour only has four shows left — Margate, Mkhuze, Richards Bay and Ulundi.

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