Klerksdorp Airshow 2012

Report and Photography by Andre Vermeulen

The Klerksdorp Airport is situated about 3nm East from the city at an elevation of 4444 ft. The main Runway 18/36 is 1500m long and 18m wide, with cross runways 15/33 and 05/23.

The airshow was opened with the traditional sky dive from the SAAF Turbo Dakota Tail no 77 and PAC750 and opening by the Air Force skydive team with skydiver Graham Field (Velocity as he is better known) filming the deployment and jump of the South African Flag, which allowed for some spectacular backlighting.

What was meant to be a relaxing day out at the airshow turned out to be a very tragic and sad day with the loss of Gianfranco Cicogna-Mozzoni in a horrific crash whilst he piloted his L-39 jet ZU-HIT, and our sincere condolences go to his family and friends. After the accident the airport and air show was halted and it's just too difficult to elaborate further.

The organisers and pilots where all briefed and after some deliberation, the teams decided to honor Gianfranco by continuing the air show. I can only imagine how difficult this decision was for them, considering they would see the crash site during their displays.

After the airshow was re-opened the Flying Lions was the first team to display and the team lead by Arnie Meneghelli flew their flat display, which as always was very spectacular with some tight formation flying. The Rooivalk and Oryx showed some muscle, which was followed by the Mazda team with Brad Bennetts at the control of his Extra 300 ZS-PWL. A fast and low race was started between the Mazda car and plane with some brilliant low flying by Brad which wowed the spectators. Brad rounded this off with another brilliant and stunning display, a true master at his work.

Next up the display from the newly painted SAAF HAWK no. 267, which had its first display in North West wearing a stunning new paint scheme which was seen at the Ulundi airshow for the first time earlier this year, with Lt Col Craig "Shark" Leeson flying from Waterkloof Air Force base to do the show. The display included a touch and go with a spectacular early right hand turn out to finish off the display.

Nigel Hopkins in the MX2 and the Cirrus SR22 got airborne and once again a spectacular show was provided with lots of smoke, tight turns and the normal knife-edge.

Pierre Gouws wowed yet again in the T28B Trojan ZU-VNM S/N 137745, C/N 200-108. Specifications when built:
Engine: One 1,425-hp Wright Cyclone R-1820-86 radial piston engine
Weight: Empty 6,424 lbs., Max Takeoff 8,500 lbs.
Wing Span: 40 ft. 1 in.
Length: 33 ft. 0 in.
Height: 12 ft. 8 in.
Performance: Maximum Speed: 343 mph
Ceiling: 35,500 ft.
Range: 1,060 miles

The Atlas Impala Mk I MB-326-N with its Viper 22-1, 1014 lbs static thrust engine was flown by Mike Weingartz. The Slow roll in the dirty executed with such class and respect for the aging aircraft that shows one can still put a Warbird through its paces without risk of damage.

Rainer Freibosse showed the crowd his beautiful WUESTENFLUG WQS SEAGLE amphibian S/N X03. This Piston Pusher composite amphibian aircraft with retractable under-carriage comes with either a Rotax 912 or 914 engine. As far as I can establish there are 3 flying with a fourth one being built at present.

With all the grace and precision Colonel Jeff Earle showed us all the slow speed capabilities of the Tiger Moth DH-82A (SAAF 2358) ZS-BEG. Some history of the aircraft and its owner can be found by following this link www.dehavilland.co.za/DH82A_cn_558.htm

It was the first time that the Jonker jet powered glider ZS-GCW was flown at an airshow, these wings can flex and the hot day certainly had it's toll on the aircraft as once the engine was started whilst flying very low over the runway she seemed to battle to gain altitude, but alas such a beautiful aircraft. You can visit www.jonkersailplanes.co.za to get some more information regarding this aircraft.

The Airshow was drawing to an end and next up was the formation fly past of the Silver Falcons with the Hawk 267 joining the display. The blue sky and low sun was certainly assisting to show the aircraft in all their splendor. Thank you to the Silver Falcons for closing the show by flying a very precise and well-executed display, the moon came into play in our shots and it allowed for some stunning ad-hoc backdrops to the photos.

Then it was time to say goodbye, the Silver Falcons honored the memory of Gianfranco by performing the best missing man formation I have seen. Thank You!