Good air show despite rain and ‘modest budget’

2012-06-25 00:00

BAD weather could not keep the Pietermaritzburg crowd from being entertained at the fourth leg of the KwaZulu-Natal Winter Air Tour on Saturday.

About 3 000 people braved the rain and the cold to enjoy an assault of the senses at the Pietermaritzburg Airport. Loud aircraft engines, the smell of boerewors rolls, amazing feats in the skies, and of course the cold, were part and parcel of the fun that was had by young and old on the day.

Also present were the MECs for finance, and economic development, Ina Cronjé and Mike Mabuyakhulu along with Msunduzi mayor Chris Ndlela.

“It’s been a great success,” said event spokesperson Justin Scott.

“Everyone in attendance was happy. From the exhibitors to the MECs. For year one, we’ve created the footprint for future shows,” Scott said.

“We had a superb calibre of aeroplanes available. It has been one of our better line-ups,” he said.

Amongst the pilots performing in the show was Mike Vinegard, who was flying the Impala jet. There was also Dave Mandel flying the L39 jet, and Nigel Hopkins doing acrobatics in his red MX2.

Hopkins, who was billed as one of the stars of the show, said after his performance that doing the things he did — which included flying his aeroplane upside down — did not make him nervous.

“I’ve been doing this all of my life, and I’ve had my pilot’s licence since I was 19,” Hopkins told The Witness. “It doesn’t make me nervous. It’s more of an adrenaline rush,” he said before rushing off to meet Finance MEC Cronjé.

KwaZulu-Natal provincial government will fund the event for two more years, after which it will be taken over by Msunduzi Municipality.

Municipal manager, Mxolisi Nkosi said they were very happy with how Saturday’s event unfolded. “It was a great success despite the weather.

“All in all, we are satisfied with the number of people that attended, and the informal traders and hawkers were also very happy,” said Nkosi.

He said they had also wanted to use the show to introduce youngsters to career opportunities that were available in aviation.

He said following the two more shows that will be funded by the provincial government, it would cost the municipality R2 million a year to organise and host the show.

“We need to package it in a way that it is just not a once-off show, and link it with the airport development strategy,” he said.

Treasury economist, Clive Coetzee said currently the event was being funded completely by government. “At the moment, we are trying to get the private sector to come to the party and sponsor the event,” Coetzee yesterday.

“I think we pulled off a very successful show despite the limited time that we had to do it, and the modest budget. This is the first of three. Next year we will deliver a better show, and it will get even better the year after,” said Coetzee.

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