For the Love of Flying
It was the combined passion for aviation and marketing experience of Absolute Aviation CEO Neil Howard and Managing Director Guy Worthington which made a brand new Extra 300LX a reality for the South African air show circuit.
Lanseria based Absolute Aviation has become the dominant force in general aviation, having revitalised the previously moribund Cessna and Beechcraft agencies, which Absolute successfully took over from their previous representatives five years ago.
Demonstrating their commitment to general aviation and sharing the love of flying in particular, Absolute Aviation was a loyal supporter of Jason Beamish in his old mid-wing Extra 300. This limited sponsorship had worked well for Absolute as it had exposed their young and dynamic brand to hundreds of thousands of air show spectators across South Africa.
So when it became evident that it was time to upgrade Jason’s Extra 300, Absolute Aviation were keen to increase their level of support. They bagged the primary sponsorship and added it to their co-sponsorship of Nigel Hopkins’ new Extra 330LS, so that the two aircraft could enthral the crowds with displays of unlimited formation aerobatics. Having two aircraft flying formation aerobatics is far more effective than having two separate aircraft flying solo performances alone in the sky.
Absolute Aviation’s commitment to supporting general aviation and air shows does not stop with just the two new Extras of Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish. They have also got behind Mark Hensman’s Team Xtreme – four world class South African aerobatic pilots who have made an indelible mark on the air show circuit in China – with their precision flying of four SBachs. In Southern Africa the team is led by Nigel Hopkins and it flies a mixed formation of the two Extras, with an MX2 of Mark Hensman and Mark Sampson’s SBach. Despite having to share the exposure with a variety of other sponsors, Absolute provides essential support to all the team members in terms of fuel and travelling costs, even for shows as far afield as the Stellenbosch (FASHKosh) air show .
Absolute was also in a position to provide unparalleled logistical support to Team Extreme when they were invited to fly 2,500 nm into Central Africa to put on an air show display. Having an ‘invasion’ of single seat high performance aircraft was enough to give most African authorities cause to scramble their air forces, and so Absolute Aviation’s ability to arrange the necessary flight clearances and expedite ground handling for this unique formation and its support ship was essential to the success of this wildly ambitious venture.
Absolute supports the two Extras of Jason Beamish and Nigel Hopkins in numerous other ways. Particularly valuable is their ability to provide the full benefits and backing from large-company corporate support for aircraft maintenance in terms of part supply and having a fully CAA approved aircraft maintenance organisation to handle the specialised maintenance work on the Extras.
Furthermore, they provide free hangarage to the aircraft of both Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish which, given the cost of hangarage at a primary airport such as Lanseria, is a benefit that quickly adds up in value.
Absolute Aviation has the view that they must; “Go Big or Stay Home.” They have amply demonstrated this in their commitment to supporting the key air shows by making it possible for world class performers such as Nigel Hopkins, Jason Beamish and Team Extreme to enthral air show crowds across Southern Africa. Absolute are thus instrumental in bringing the thrill of flight to thousands of aeroplane enthusiasts across the sub-continent. ‘In addition to having a responsibility to our existing customers, we believe we have a responsibility to invite new interest in aviation by sharing the dream with the many children and enthusiasts attending the shows’, says Guy. ‘This is very often how the seed is planted and how the next generation of aviators are born’.
The foresight and preparedness of organisations such as Absolute Aviation to invest for the long term in General Aviation has to be applauded.