By Sgt Beverley Steenkamp, DCSS
The Mafikeng International Airshow is an annual event hosted
by the North West Government Province at the Mafikeng
Airfield. The North West Government’s aim is to bring
aviation to the people. The entrance fee is free of charge
to all spectators and the event is looked forward to and
immensely enjoyed by the locals.
Mafikeng Airfield boasts one of the longest runways in the
southern hemisphere and the location offers ideal flying and
aerobatic display conditions. Aviators participating in the
show are spoilt with wide-open spaces and a view as far as
the eye can see.
The break of day on 27 September 2008 promised clear, blue
skies with a slight breeze. In anticipation of a successful
day, all the participants were up and out of their hotel
rooms in record time, ready to impress the crowds with their
skills. The airfield was abuzz with activity as everyone
prepared for the event.
The intrepid commentator, Brian Emmenis, started pulling the
crowds in early with his unmistakable voice. Promises of
excitement and surprise hung in the air, with the sound of
aircraft engines purring in the background.
The group of Siyandiza members set up an attractive display,
bringing a world of aviation information to the young people
of the North West Province.
At 10 o’clock all the participating pilots gathered in the
main terminal building for the safety briefing. It was an
impressive group of famous and familiar faces, with the SAAF
members proudly making up almost half the crowd. The
briefing was lead by the Safety Director, Lt Col Francois
Hanekom, who supplied invaluable information pertaining to
the flying safety aspects of the day. His briefing was
supplemented by inputs from the ATC and weather bureau
representatives. The event’s chief organizer, Mr. Ricky
Rennie, thanked all the participants and wished everyone a
True to tradition, the show was opened with a mass freefall
jump conducted by the SAAF C130. At the forefront were the
SAAF’s own Golden Eagles whose beautiful parachuting display
sent hundreds of spectators rushing to the crowd line for a
Throughout the day, aircraft of various types went roaring
over the display line, thrilling the crowds with amazing
displays of skill and showmanship. Even the landings and
take-offs drew attention with the spectators applauding to
show their appreciation.
The SAAF displays were especially popular. Helicopters that
participated were the Augusta A109, Oryx and BK117. Fixed
wing displays were provided by the C130, the Dakota, Casa
212 and, of course, the ever popular Silver Falcons.
Comments passed by those in the know, were that the Silver
Falcons Mafikeng display was the best one ever! The
aircraft’s new colors combined with the aerobatic skill of
the pilots stole the show.
The photo opportunity of the day presented itself when SAA’s
Airbus A340 flew in to give a display accompanied by the
Silver Falcons in formation and photographers frantically
clicked away to capture this very rare sight.
Stunning aerobatics displays were put on by the Goodyear
Wesbank Pitts, the North West Eagles Impalas, the Gabriel
Pitts, Rippit Zlin, the Bush Pilot, the L29 and the L39.
Formation displays included the local flying club, the
Albatross formation and the Yak 52 formation. Scully
Levine’s truck top landing and Zoltan Veres’s Extra versus
motorbike Race had the crowds captivated. Danie Terblanche
in a R22 performed an outstanding display of what a
helicopter can do. Multiple world aerobatic champion, Zoltan
Veres provided some heart stopping moments with his display
in an Extra.
The highlight of the day was an Air Assault Demonstration or
“Mini War”. This spectacular show was the result of the
combined effort of the SA Army, the SA Air Force and
civilian pilots and pyrotechnical personnel. As soon as the
Mini War’s first explosion went off, all the very young
spectators screamed and fled from the unexpected noise, but
soon crept back, fascinated by the show. The aim of the Mini
War’s display was to demonstrate the SANDF’s capability in a
war situation and the crowd was suitably impressed by what
Towards the end of the day the Castrol Flying Lions took off
in their Harvard's to do a hauntingly beautiful sunset
display. They flew until dark and the combination of their
unique engine sound, smoke and aircraft lights created a
most unforgettable scene.
This most successful Airshow was crowned with a magical 25
minute fireworks display and as the mesmerizing lights
exploded against the night sky, all the participants had
just enough time to ponder on their passion for aircraft and