Margate Winter Air Show ‘a great success’

2012-07-09 00:00

THE first ever KZN Winter Air Show was an astounding success at Margate this weekend, event organisers said.

About 5 000 spectators went to see the 15 light display aircraft at Margate Airport on Saturday.

With nail-biting aerobatic stunts and amazing displays, the crowd was on edge. Oher exhibitors displayed merchandise at various stalls and children were kept entertained with a jumping castle.

Families packed picnic baskets, camp chairs and blankets and enjoyed a relaxing and eventful day out.

Initiated by the KZN Department of Treasury and KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the show was held to promote aviation among youngsters and encourage the use of small airports.

So far, the show has toured five airports — Ulundi, Pietermaritzbug, Richards Bay, Pinetown and Margate. The last airport will be Virginia in Durban.

KZN Winter Air Show secretary Gerna Fraser said Margate was a great airport and had lots of potential.

“The airport is well managed and the staff are great. It definitely has potential for commercial use,” she said.

She said she hopes that the aerobatic stunts would encourage some of the many youngsters who attended the show to pursue a career in aviation.

“The industry needs young people and we hope that this pushed them in the direction of wanting to become pilots,” she said.

“Today an 83-seater SA Airlink plane landed for the first time at Margate Airport. We would like to see this happen regularly,” she said. The aircraft flew passengers who were involved in the air show from Piet­ermaritzburg to Margate.

Airport manager Graham Berriman said it was very exciting to host the show for the first time in Margate.

“People started coming in from very early this morning and you could see they were anxious to see what the show had in store,” he said.

He said the beach and shopping malls will always be there, but it was not every day that people got to see professional aviators do some amazing stunts. Holidaymaker Sarie van der Burg from Johannesburg said she found the air show to be very entertaining and educational.

Another holidaymaker, Craig Smit from Pretoria, said he admired the pilots as it took real skill and courage to do the stunts in the air.

Pilots described the airport as fantastic.

Richard Moore, who flew his L39 jet, said he enjoyed every bit of the show.

“The airport is well managed and the runway is beautiful. I had an amazing flight,” he said.

He said the weather had not been ideal throughout the show tour, but it was still a very well supported event.

“This is the fifth show we’ve taken part in and its always good to see young children and teenagers become interested in aviation,” he said.

Pilot Dave Mandel echoed Moore’s sentiments.

Also flying an L39 jet, he said he had a great day of flying and was happy to be part of the air show.

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