Successful air show set to thrill aviation enthusiasts annually

2013-07-01 00:00

SUNNY winter weather pulled a huge crowd for the KwaZulu-Natal Winter Air Tour’s Pietermaritzburg leg on Saturday.

About 4 000 people attended the show, and were thrilled by the sight of aircraft racing and spinning overhead and the roar of their loud engines.

Highlights were an enthusiastic performance by the Impala L39 jet, and a red MX2 doing aerobatics and the thrills of watching the skydivers plummet earthwards.

In one hair-raising incident during the skydiving event, airshow commentator Brian Emmenis announced that something was falling from the sky very fast and that everyone should be careful. Later, it emerged that it was skydiver Andrew du Toit’s canopy. He had had a problem in the air with his main parachute and had to use a reserve canopy. After he landed, he maintained that he had been in no danger. “It’s safe; everything worked as it should have happened. I had a snapped line. I am safe as we are always super safe in skydiving,” said Du Toit.

Pietermaritzburg airport came to life as the crowd were also allowed to check out two Airlink planes that had arrived from Johannesburg. Passengers received a warm welcome from spectators, who were waiting like fans for celebrities to appear. Onlookers screamed, while others clapped as the passengers walked out of the plane.

Department of Treasury economist Clive Coetzee said the occasion was a success and that they are planning to make it an annual event.

“This was a three-year project and [we’ve] seen that more and more people are interested in the show. The plan is to extend it. It’s brilliant to bring aviation to the people and kids will see that there is a future in aviation,” said Coetzee.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela said: “This was a great success for the city to host and while the air show continued, two Airlink flights with passengers landed in front of the crowd. This shows that this airport is operational and they should use it.” He added that the show is also a good marketing tool for the city. “The local economic development section of our municipality is looking at busing people from previously disadvantaged communities to come and be part of the event come 2014,” said a delighted Ndlela.

Everyone in attendance appeared to be enjoying themselves and a surprise visit by the premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize, who spent more than an hour before catching a plane to Johannesburg, was a bonus, said Coet­zee.

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