Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm has extended warm Mossel Bay greetings to pilots and organisers who’ve landed in town for the Yak-52 and Intermediate Class World Aerobatic Championships.
The event will run until 3 December.
“We’re excited to have so many top-class pilots in town, and to be able to show them Mossel Bay as a premier aviation destination,” she said.
Contest director John Gaillard – the vice-president of the International Aerobatics Commission (CIVA), and the vice-president for the Africa region of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) – said that arrangements have run smoothly, and that the weather on registration day (26 November) had been brilliant.
“If it continues like this, we’ll be fine,” he said.
According to the event coordinator and secretary of the Mossel Bay Aero Club, John Boucher, Mossel Bay was chosen to host the event because it offers excellent infrastructure for flying as well as exceptional attractions for international visitors.
The Championships will take place out of the Mossel Bay airfield, which boasts a paved, 1,200 metre runway, a club house, hangering, refueling, and aircraft maintenance facilities.
“A total of about 60 pilots from New Zealand, Canada, Poland, Australia, Sweden, Brazil, Lithuania, Russia, Belgium, the United Kingdom, China, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Luxemburg, Portugal and South Africa are taking part,” said Mr. Boucher.
“The competition itself is quite technical – the pilots are required to fly over a designated area of 1,000 by 1,000 metres (which is marked on the ground – visible here on Google Maps), and to a vertical limit of 1,000 metres – and if you know what you’re looking at, it’s very exciting to watch.”
He said that the youngest competitor in the event – 24-year-old Kenny Chaing – is also probably the youngest person ever to have piloted a Boeing B747-400
Mr. Chiang achieved that feat when he was just 19 years of age.
As a participant flying for Hong Kong and China in the FAI World Intermediate Aerobatic Championships, he’s also the first Chinese national ever to represent his country on the world stage of aerobatics.
He arrived in Mossel Bay about a week before registration day.
“I’ve been to several cities in South Africa, and I think Mossel Bay is by far the nicest,” he said. “It’s almost like being in a different country. The people are warm and very, very hospitable, and I enjoy flying in the exceptional scenery.”
Ms. Holm said that having the Championships in the town is a huge feather in Mossel Bay’s cap. “The international exposure it’ll bring us will be enormous, and we thank the organisers and pilots for that – and for coming to our part of South Africa’s Garden Route.
“We wish everyone fair weather for a safe and successful tournament,” she said. •