Swartkop Air Extravaganza–May 2011

Tiger Moth - BertieMirage2

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.

2011-05-21 Swartkop airshow 5D Card1 225

Part of the capacity crowd enjoying the show.

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!

Enjoy the pics…

Gabriels Wings - Ellis Levine

Gabriel's Wings - Pitts Special, piloted by Ellis Levin


Vintage Vampire

Silver Falcon number 1

South African Air Force Silver Falcons - Team Leader

Goodyear Pitts Specials - Smoke on - Go

Smoke on, Go. Goodyear Aerobatic team - Pitts Specials

P51 Mustang Sally - Sunset

Mustang Sally - P51 Mustang at sunset

Copyright notice: All images in this article are copyright © and such copyright is retained by the owner of this blog. No images may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written consent of the copyright owner.

About Freud Fission Chips

Despite the banality of the name, FFC has led an intensely varied life. Grateful for surviving almost three years as a 'troepie' (soldier for non-South African Readers) in the Angolan war, he determined to wring as much out of life as possible. Currently providing Business Analysis services, trading on the stock market and developing web pages to pay the bills, FFC also dabbles in wildlife, landscape and people photography, writing, and far too many interests for his own good. He has also travelled extensively in southern Africa (working on the sound theory that a moving target is more dificult to hit). These peregrinations also include over 1500kms on foot through some of the worlds most spectacular scenery. It hasn't all been plain sailing, beer and skittles, and endless beds of roses... Chief amongst the prerequisites for surviving Africa, with its mind-bending characteristics, is an appropriate sense of humour.... So, for now, he will be recounting the amusing among the annoying, the frustrating wrapped in the funny and extracting the mirth from the melancholy... Oh yes, there might be some alliteration too.
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2 Responses to Swartkop Air Extravaganza–May 2011

  1. bosium says:

    Cracking pics, really impressive. What lens / camera did you use to get these?
    I’ve been to an airshow once at Ysterplaat but it was when I was still a little boy, I remember having a great time though.

  2. My thanks for the kind compliments,

    Thanks also for popping back to the blog.

    The cameras were Canon 5D and 5DMKII. The lens was a 300mm f2.8 with a 2x converter – giving it a 600mm, 5.6 aperture. However, I was shooting mainly at f10 and smaller.

    As new chapters of the Namibian trip get posted , I’ll be putting some pics up – some of which were using some kit I hired (Canon EOS1D MK IV and 600mm f4 lens) with which to take wildlife pics. I hope the articles and pics will prove enjoyable.

    Trusting the brewing is going well on that side squire 🙂

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