Durban air show to be held at race course

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Durban air show to be held at race course

Durban – A whole new brand of daredevils will jockey for position at Greyville next month when the Durban race course hosts the Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics.

The promoters hope a crowd of more than 10 000 will pack the course for the May 28 event, which is being billed as a contest between “Gladiators of the Sky”.

Thrills aplenty are expected with 10 of the world’s top pilots jousting it out, performing a series of breathtaking manoeuvres about 25 metre-high pylons above the Royal Durban Golf Course.

A panel of judges will scrutinise the pilots’ moves to choose the champion, while spectators will get a prime view of the competition – akin to watching “gladiators at the colosseum”, said Sky Grand Prix chief executive, Roger Deare.

Beyond staging a spectacular show on the day, the organisers said they hoped it would become an annual event and add to the Durban events calendar, boosting local businesses and tourism and creating jobs.

The Sky Grand Prix features a star-studded line-up of local and international aerobatic pilots.

The rose among the thorns, France’s Aude Lemordant, 33, was crowned the Unlimited World Champion in 2013 and the European Freestyle Champion 2012.

Lemordant first flew in a glider at the age of 14. She was awarded her glider’s licence the next year and her private pilot’s licence, two years after that.

She began flying in aerobatic competitions in 2005 and joined the Breitling team in 2014.

Then there is American Rob Holland, who has been a full-time airshow pilot for 15 years and is known as something of a maverick in the industry.

“One of my goals is to take aerobatics to the next level,” he said. “I want to push the limits of what can be done.”

Holland boasts several titles, including three time World Freestyle Champion, five time US National Aerobatic Champion and 2008 World Advanced Aerobatic Champion, to name a few.

Flying the flag for South Africa is last year’s Aero Club of South Africa’s Pilot of the Year, Patrick Davidson. At 33 he has twice been named South African Unlimited Aerobatic Champion and was placed third in the World Advanced Aerobatic Championships.

Other South Africans featured include Nigel Hopkins, Neville Ferreira, Mark Hensman and Barrie Eeles.

Poland’s Artur Kielak, the UK’s Gerald Cooper the USSR’s Mikhail Mamistov are also representing their countries.

The Grand Prix will serve as a precursor to the annual Daily News 2000 horse race, which will take place after the action in the air.

The Daily News 2000 is well known for being a good indicator of which horses to watch out for in the Vodacom July.

In 2014 Legislate won the Daily News 2000 and went on to win the July. He is one of many horses to have done this.

Deare and fellow organiser Nigel Hopkins said they would pull out all the stops for the Grand Prix and confirmed that the event had been sanctioned nationally and internationally by aviation bodies and approval had been obtained from local authorities.

Tickets are available through Computicket and will also be available at Greyville on the day.

Prices are R250 for adults and R75 for children under 12.

By: Mphathi Nxumalo

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