The best aerobatic pilots in the country have all gathered at the Phalaborwa airfield for the 2021 National Aerobatics Championship and it promises to be an absolute showcase for aircraft lovers. Due to the covid regulations strict measures were put in place to ensure the safety of all participants and the general public.
Thankfully, with Phalaborwa being such a small community and most of the aerobatics taking place high above ground, residents can treat themselves to a spectacular display by simply stepping outside their front doors.
The pilots for the event arrived in Phalaborwa on Friday the 13th of August and spent the weekend and the Monday and Tuesday afternoons settling in with a few practice-runs in between. The influx of tourists to the town and the boost this offered the local economy can never be downplayed and highlights the importance of promoting more of these types of national events.
Spectators will be allowed in a designated area on the airport premises with R50.00 entry fees for persons 13 years and older, and R25.00 for children 12 years and younger. Masks must be worn at all times. The gates opened on Wednesday and Thursday this week at 09:00 in the morning and this afternoon and tomorrow (Saturday) the gates will be opened at 08:00. Saturday is regarded as the unofficial highlight of the week with some of the top pilots having a surprise performance in store to close off the competition.
Parking is not allowed inside the airport itself and spectators are reminded to bring their own chairs, umbrellas, gazebo’s and sunscreen. Food stalls will be available and there will be a beer garden today and tomorrow from 10:00 to 20:00.
Bulletin spent some time at the airfield on Wednesday while the pilots were completing the last of their practice sessions and the show started. We spoke to one of the veterans in the sport, Glen Warden. Warden is a British Airways Comair Boeing 737 Training Captain with over 14 000 flying hours, a former fighter pilot who flew the Aermacchi MB-326, Mirage and Cheetah jet aircraft for the South African Airforce and he is an active member of the South African Air Force Museum displaying the Mirage CZ III, the Vampire T11 and the T6 Harvard. Warden was also the leader of the acclaimed Goodyear Eagles. He is one of the pilots Phalaborwa locals can look forward to seeing zipping through the skies the next few days.
Bulletin will be at the event this weekend and will publish the results and a brief chat with Warden and other pilots, including local airman Ingmar Bezuidenhout, in our next edition.