Nothing quite beats the acrid smell of burning jet fuel, the whine and whoosh of turbines coming to life and the earth-shaking roar of sleek flying machines spearing skywards, afterburners ablaze.
This year’s Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition delivered all the high-octane excitement local aviation buffs could ask for. Alternating biennially between the Western Cape and Gauteng, the premier air, sea and land capability showcase on the continent was held this year at Waterkloof Air Force Base, Tshwane.
Whether it was wooing international arms dealers or wowing capacity public crowds, 413 exhibitors from around the world displayed some seriously high-tech wares. Formidable-looking offensive weaponry stood cheek by jowl with sophisticated systems that are equally capable in a peacetime role. Predictably the Chinese, Germans and Russians were strongly represented – but so were South Africans, in the form of the Paramount Group, Denel and the like.
For those who weren’t there to buy, but merely to ogle, the highlight came on the show’s open days, when an assortment of aircraft – both old and new, fixed-wing and rotary, civilian and distinctly warlike – took to the skies.
PM was there to capture the action.