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Gallery – Potchefstroom Airshow 2024

With an enthusiastic crowd of more than 7,000 spectators, the Potchefstroom Airshow proved that aviation enthusiasts in rural South Africa are crying out to see our aerobatic and display pilots in action.

The last airshow at the Potch airfield took place around 2009 so a revival of this spectacular was much anticipated by the people of the rural North West including Klerksdorp, Stilfontein, Orkney and Carletonville

The Potch airfield has its roots in the outbreak of World War II, established as 6 Air School as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan to provide trained pilots and airmen to the South African Air Force (SAAF) and British Royal Air Force (RAF). After the war, the SAAF continued using the airfield, notably basing 11 Squadron (Cessna 185s), 42 Squadron (initially flying Taylorcraft Austers and, later, Cessna 185s, Bosboks and Kudus) and 103 Squadron (a volunteer civilian squadron flying civilian types) there. Later, in 1982, the SAAF established 84 Light Aircraft Flying School at Potchefstroom. Many spectacular SAAF airshows have been held at the airfield over the years, including performances from the Impalas of the SAAF’s Silver Falcons.

The SANDF maintains a presence at Potchefstroom Airfield to this day, with it being designated an Army Support Base (ASB). The North West police air wing also has a base at the airfield.

Sponsored by Master Power Technologies, SV Aviation, Sandriver Crop Protection and OFM as broadcast partner, the airshow included a few displays not often seen on the local circuit.

Proceedings got under way with the Potch Girls High drum majorettes entertaining a growing crowd.

Solo aerobatics were performed by Jason Beamish in his Master Power Extra 330LX, Andrew Blackwood-Murray in his Nashua Extra 300LP and Tristan Eeles in his On The Move Extra 330SC. Twenty-five-year-old Tristan impressed the crowds with his mastery of the sport and proved his selection for the SA team to the World Advanced Aerobatic Championships in Las Vegas last year.

Helicopter fans were treated to Johan van Zyl and his Magni Gyrocopter as well as Juba Joubert and his Alouette II. Henley Air’s Johan Coetzee provided helicopter flips for the spectators and took 450 people up on the day.

Oscar Goudriaan brought the grace of a glider to the show in his Jonker Sailplanes JS3 Rapture. Half of his display was pure soaring and the other half showing his skill under power of a jet sustainer system. The glider was built by internationally recognised Jonker Sailplanes at their factory based on this airfield.

The Goodyear Eagles Pitts Specials brought a two-ship aerobatic display, while the Navions displayed twice with Reyno Coetzer and Mike George flying a two-ship, after which Steve George flew a solo display.

The Puma Flying Lions got close to the crowd line as their heavy metal three-ship T6 Harvards turned out to be a crowd favourite with their precision formation flying.

But three acts stole the show on the day, the first being the crop spraying and firefighting demonstration by Sandriver Crop Protection. The second was the commandeering of Kevin Hopper’s Orion Cub by a crazy flying stuntman and the third was the radio controlled demonstration by Joshua Twomey from the South African Model Aircraft Association (SAMAA).

The Sandriver display began with a Bell 266 LongRanger flown by JD Heyns. It was followed by a two-ship formation of an Air Tractor 4301 with its Pratt & Whitney nine-cylinder radial engine and an Air Tractor 502 turboshaft aircraft, flown by Pedri van Rhyn and Henri van Niekerk respectively. The finale was an Air Tractor T02 flown by Steve Viviers in a choreographed display with a John Deere R4030 self-drive sprayer.

Out of the crowd emerged an untidy gentleman clutching a beer who made his way towards the Orion Cub parked in the aircraft holding area. He evaded security guards and climbed into the plane, fired it up and took off. After a few erratic attempts at a display he eventually got the aircraft onto the ground where he was apprehended by police, handcuffed and dragged away. It turned out to be none other than Jason Beamish in a planned event that had the crowd completely fooled.

Finally it was the turn of Joshua Twomey with his radio controlled Extreme Flight Extra New Generation aircraft. Joshua lives with a disability affecting his arms, but despite this, he holds South African colours for aerobatic model aircraft flying. His display was sensational, exhibiting cutting edge freestyle aerobatics that had the crowd on their feet and cheering for this young man.

On its return to Potchefstroom this airshow set the standard for a great event, loved by the crowd and highly regarded by the display pilots, despite the challenging winds.




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