Following its theme, ‘I Can Dream’, the 2019 edition saw a whopping 12,500 spectators’ through the gates, around 5,500 more than the previous year.
It was a day jam-packed with action and entertainment for the entire family, no matter the age, gender or culture, with over 80 exhibitors, the very popular Munro Art exhibition, as well as the KwaZulu Natal Tourism 360-degree virtual stand.
Opening the show was a stellar performance from the Newcastle High School choir and as they sang the national anthem. Being a key provincial airshow the SAAF was in strong support. A huge South African flag was flown by a parachutist in front of a perfectly timed flypast by SAAF Silver Falcons as a show opener.
For the rest of the day the skies above Newcastle were filled with aerial displays by South Africa’s best aerobatic teams, including The Puma Energy Flying Lions in their immaculate Harvards, the high-energy display by Team Xtreme flying the latest Extra 330s in perfect synchronization, the Goodyear Eagles in their Pitts Specials and the Raptors team flying their RVs. Not to be outdone by the adrenaline-pumping aerobatic teams, the soloists kept the show going with performances flown by the Extra 300, the Boeing Stearman, an aerobatic glider, a gyrocopter as well as a L29 jet. Menno Parson’s Mustang P-51 had the crowds on their feet with a stunning aerial display.
With the civilian aerobatics done, the SAAF flexed its muscles and showed the crowd its power with a fast and furious display by one of its Gripen fighters, as well as multiple displays by the SAAF Silver Falcons aerobatic team.
Very commendably Airlink airlines graced the show with one of its new Embraer E190s, showing off its size and elegance.
Petrol-heads were treated to lots of bike action, as well as a race between a Rail Dragster driven by South Africa’s ‘fastest woman’ (on the ground), Vanessa Fourie, who holds the record at Tarlton with an incredible 7.8 seconds run over the quarter mile, against Nigel Hopkins Extra, as well as a motorbike stunt show.
Besides all the non-stop action, and for those wishing to learn more about aviation, exhibitions from the South African Defence Force (SANDF), as well as the SAAF and the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) had their hands full with questions and queries as to possibly career paths. The day also played host to over 1000 Grade 11 learners attending the educational expo and included presentations from the SAAF by the Deputy Chief of the Air Force, talks from the first two black female SAAF pilots, as well as talks from the SANDF and the SACAA.
Keeping the large crowd informed was Capital Sounds. Brian Emmenis and his team supplied the commentary for the entire crowd line as well as the VIP tents and made sure that everyone was well informed about each performance.
Such an event is not possible without committed sponsors and the driving forces behind this year’s event was the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs of KwaZulu Natal and KwaZulu Natal Tourism with the event organisation once again handled by the Champ Group of Companies led by Johan Pieters and Christo van de Vyver.
According to Johan Pieters, “2020 is a big year for the Newcastle airshow as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. Next year we plan on hosting a three-day airshow with artist performances as well as plenty of other activities, so watch this space.”