From Canvas to Jets…This was the theme of the air show organised by and in aid of the South African Air Force (SAAF) Museum on Saturday 21st May 2011.
Initially Mrs Chips and I weren’t going to go. I mean, if you’ve seen one air show you’ve seen ‘em all, n’est–ce pas? Besides, it was for a museum for goodness sake. However, when the opportunity arose to make a buck or two out of the visit, we meandered along. And aren’t we glad we did!
At about 11:30am, “Mr. Airshow” aka Brian Emmenis announced they would soon be turning people away because the organisers had almost reached the 50 000 mark, that being the capacity of the venue.
As much as I am mad keen on all matters aerial, I have found over the years, that if you’re not within aviation’s sacred inner circle, entrance to which appears to be gained either by being neck-deep in cash or intimately acquainted with/related to a prominent aviation personality, forget about that special image. Oh, and they reserve a special antipathy for freelancers. In their defense, I suppose it has been necessary to seek refuge behind such policies as a result of hordes of freeloaders wasting their time. And let’s face it, doing publicity images for the aviation industry is such that they will have the choice of talent.
It was with those smarting feelings, that we jostled and bumped our way between the thronging spectators to claim a few square centimetres of tarmac that would be ours for the day. At one point, I and another specator turned simultaneously and we met amidships. Mrs Chips told me later that my tripod caught him squarely in the crotch. ‘He’s lucky’, I thought. With his eyes crossed, he’ll see twice the display for the same price.
It wasn’t long before I spied Mrs Chips wilting slightly but silently and I moved off in the direction of the Makro stand. They had, with extreme cunning, set up shop in the spectator area, selling folding chairs, gazebos, cooler boxes; trailers even. If the queue was anything to go by, Makro made an absolute killing. Two Hundred Rands and half an hour later, I staggered back to Mrs Chips with the chair and her look of gratitude made the whole operation eminently worthwhile.
It is often the case that public events are marred by a lack of foresight, planning and organisation. The Swartkop Airshow was not one of them. From toilet facilities to trash bins; food & drink to first aid; even activities for the kids, it was all there. Delays between program items were kept to a minimum and Mr Airshow kept the spectators informed with a constant stream of entertaining patter.
The show ended just after 6pm with a post-sunset skydive by the Special Forces skydiving team and two sunburned, dehydrated ‘verlepte slap chips’ made their weary 1.5km way back to the car. What we do for you readers, honestly!
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