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Polokwane International Airshow, 21 May 2005

In the week commencing 16 May 2005 a transport convention was held at Polokwane International Airport (ICAO code FAPB) in the Northern Province of the Republic of South Africa (RSA). As part of the convention, a military and civilian airshow was held on Saturday, 21 May 2005. Several chalets erected to accommodate the various exhibits of the convention could still be seen on the Saturday.
Please note that the information provided in this article pertains to the year 2005.

Description of the airport

Short history

The airport was officially opened as Gateway International Airport on 29 March 1996 by Mr Thabo Mbeki, then the Deputy President and now the President of the Republic of South Africa. Subsequently the airport was renamed Pietersburg International Airport and currently it is named Polokwane International Airport.
Important official ceremonies at the airport include the naming of SAA Boeing 747-400 ZS-SBK as “The Great North” on 10 April 1999 and then “Limpopo” at the airshow held at the airport on 24 May 2003.
Polokwane International Airport originated as Air Force Base (AFB) Pietersburg (Polokwane’s previous name) of the SAAF. Several SAAF units were based at AFB Pietersburg over the years. In 1992 the resident units consisted of 85 Combat Flying School (85 CFS) flying Atlas Impala Mks I and II and 89 Combat Flying School (89 CFS) flying Atlas Cheetah Ds. An airshow held on 19 September 1992 at AFB Pietersburg marked the 25th anniversary of 85 CFS. Aircraft of 85 CFS and 89 CFS and Boeing 707 number 1415 of 60 Squadron took part in the air display (which included a 25-ship flypast by 85 CFS). Some of the present infrastructure at FAPB existed in 1992 already.


Upgrades undertaken to the infrastructure of the airport include a runway extension, an upgrade of the cargo-handling facility, a revamping of the navigation equipment and construction of arrival and departure facilities. A result of these upgrades will be that large carriers can be accommodated.
There are two runways, which form an X, and four large aprons. The terminal building has its own apron while an apron with numbered parking bays is situated to the left of the control tower. Another apron is located to the right of the control tower, with another one extending to the extreme right of the control tower.
Several grass and concrete embankments border the aprons to the left and right of the control tower and the apron to the extreme right of the control tower.
A group of three parallel hangars are situated to the right of the control tower. A long hangar is at an angle to and to the right of the three parallel hangars. One group of hangars (eight, some of which are used by the SAPS Airwing) is located behind the grass embankment behind the aprons to the left and right of the control tower. Another group of hangars (four) is situated more or less in line with the first group of hangars behind a concrete embankment behind the apron to the extreme right of the control tower. A third group of hangars (also four) is located behind the concrete embankment to the right of the apron to the extreme right of the control tower.

This is an overall view of the infrastructure at FAPB as seen on 21 May 2005. The control tower is situated behind and between the two Atlas Cheetahs to the right of the image. As viewed from the control tower, the following hangars are located to the right of the control tower (towards the left in the image): First there is a group of three parallel hangars and then there is a long hangar at an angle to the three parallel hangars. To the right of the long hangar is a group of four hangars behind a white embankment. The two private aircraft and two Cheetahs are parked on bays numbered from B5 to B9.

This is a closeup of the control tower and a building to the left of it.

Here the long hangar at an angle to the right of the three parallel hangars can be seen. It is a three-bay hangar used by Interair South Africa. Boeing 727 ZS-IJH can be seen just inside the open hangar door.

In 2005 some of these hangars were used by the South African Police Service (SAPS) Air Wing. These hangars are located behind the grass embankment behind the aprons to the left and right of the control tower.
Residents, other aircraft and Golden Oldies
Past and present residents at the airport include Air Cess/Air Pass (which has long ago left the airport), eMoyeni Air Charter, G&L Aviation as well as Interair South Africa, an aircraft maintenance organisation (AMO).
eMoyeni Air Charter was established in 1994. General-aviation types operated by it include helicopters. The company undertakes hunter and leisure, business and scenic flights. The name eMoyeni means “in the clouds”. As Emoyeni Medical Rescue it operates a fleet of air ambulances (including Bell 206 ZS-HVZ, a Cessna 421 and Citation ZS-PMA).
Among the services offered by G&L Aviation are air charters, tours and safaris; aircraft hire, sales and -management services; adventure packages; the provision of aircrew; flying training; and the supply of fuel and lubricants. G&L Training is based at FAPB. Equipment used includes Cessna 172 ZS-NWG and a CAA-approved instrument flight simulator. Aircraft in the G&L Aviation fleet include the Cessna 172, 182, 210, 402 and Citation; Piper PA-31 Navajo and PA-31T Cheyenne; and Beechcraft King Air 90 and 200. Navajos ZS-MLZ and ZS-MNS are for sale.

In 2005 Piper PA-31 Navajo ZS-MLZ of G&L Aviation was for sale. The machine is seen at Pietersburg Airfield (ICAO code FAPI) on 22 May 2004.
Interair South Africa is a niche airline that has it headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is a regional carrier that specializes in full services to the businessman (although it also provides a service to economy-class passengers). Its route structure includes scheduled services to and from Johannesburg to the Indian Ocean Islands as well as to and in West Africa and specifically the French-speaking countries in Africa. From Johannesburg it flies to Antananarivo, Réunion, Ndola, Libreville, Cotonou, Brazzaville and Ndjamena. Within West Africa the airline flies to Brazzaville, Bamako, Cotonou, Ouagadougou and Libreville (some of these services are undertaken in conjunction with Aero Benin). The airline has also been certified as an AMO and performs W, B and C checks on Boeing 707s, 727s and 737s from its three-bay hangar at FAPB (the long hangar). Aircraft that have been operated in company colours and/or titles by the airline include Boeing 707-323C ZS-IJI; Boeing 727-23 ZS-IJE c/n 18443, Boeing 727-116C ZS-IJH, Boeing 727-2F2 ADV 3D-ITC c/n 21260; Boeing 737-2H7C ADV ZS-IJJ c/n 20591 and Boeing 737-202C 9J-AFW. More details of some of these aircraft can be found in the captions to the images as well as in the table section.

One of the propliners present at FAPB on 21 May 2005 was Convair CV340 registration ZS-ARV2.
At least one visitor, a Cessna 310 (possibly ZS-BRO), was later noted on the main apron.
Sharing the apron in front of the control tower with the airshow participants were a Beech Queen Air and a Cessna Caravan II, which did not participate in the airshow.
Golden Oldies
Several Golden Oldies (Boeing 707s and 727s and older 737s) could be seen at FAPB on 21 May 2005. No less than seven Boeing 707s and 727s were parked on a taxiway to the left of one of the runways. In addition, there were two Boeing 727s and two Boeing 737s at and in Interair SA’s hangar. These aircraft were in various states of completeness and are probably used as spares for other aircraft, because when some of them were seen during 2004 they were more intact. More details of the aircraft are given in the captions to the images as well as in the tables section. Also see the flight-line notes.

The airshow


The number of spectators was disappointing – apparently the locals are rugby crazy and would rather first watch a local game and then attend an airshow later in the day.
Static exhibits
Only two aircraft were on static display: one Astra (which might actually have been a spare aircraft for the Silver Falcons) and a Cessna 182, while AFB Makhado had static exhibits (including a tailfin, an ejection seat and weapons) in one of the chalets.

Flight line

The apron in front of the control tower was used as the flight line, where aircraft were parked parallel on the numbered parking bays to the left of the control tower as well as in four rows to the right of the control tower. Some aircraft used the first hangar to the right of the control tower.


Airshow participants included the SAAF, the Flying Lions, the Mazda Aerobatic Team (which gave their usual impressive display), the Shurlok Aerobatic Team, the Sasol Flying Tigers, Glen Dell (with his Extra 300 and Slick 360 in their eye-catching colour schemes), the Huffin Puffin Boeing Stearman, the Showdown Team, the Sasol Albatrosses (which were joined by a third example) and several other participants. Several of the images below illustrate the various participants.

My impressions of the airshow

To me, the SAAF’s presence was the highlight of the day, especially because SAAF aircraft do not attend airshows on the same scale as they did in the past (think of the RSA’s and the SAAF’s anniversary celebrations in the 1970s and in 1995, when there were mass flypasts and several open days/airshows!). Since the Mirage range of aircraft (including derivatives of the Mirage III) is a personal favourite of mine, I was delighted to see a Mirage IIIBZ (Museum Flight), a Cheetah D and two Cheetah Cs (2 Squadron) being put through their paces. The ever-popular Dakota was present in the form of a 35 Squadron C-47TP. Other types included an Oryx (19 Squadron), Astras (Central Flying School), a Cessna 208 (41 Squadron) and a Cessna 185 and CASA 212-200 (both 44 Squadron). The formation aerobatics of the Silver Falcons was a pleasure to watch.
It was nice to see and hear the display of the trio of Piaggio P166S Albatrosses with their distinctive gull-wing design and peculiar engine sound. Their impeccable formation flying makes one think of the days when 27 Squadron SAAF Albatrosses would fly in formation (where, incidentally, these aircraft originated from).
Apron to the left of the control tower with parking bays possibly numbered up to B19 (STARTING FROM RIGHT-HAND SIDE):
ZU-DMD, 356, 352, 858, ZS-ORP, ZS-OOT, 8010, 3002, ZU-IMP
Apron to the right of the control tower (In each case starting from the side of the embankment)
Row 1:          ZU-AUX, ZU-CYI, ZU-DHV, ZU-KIM, ZU-TEE
Row 2:          1210, 6887, ZU-ACI, ZS-NJX, ZS-MMI, ZS-CPC, ZU-ACE, 727, ZS-PEP
Row 3:          ZU-COT, 2023, 2028, 2020, 2025
Row 4:          ZS-WWJ, ZS-ODX, ZU-CCO, ZU-SXL, ZU-JBD, ZU-DBM, Showdown dragster
I am unsure where these aircraft parked, or they parked in more than one spot.
Static area
Rope: 2018
Chalets: AFB Makhado: weapons, tailfin, ejection seat and boards with photos
Coned-off area to the side of the long hangar: ZS-RWY
Inside ZS-IJH + bizjet                 Outside C5-GAL, 3D-ZZM, 9J-AFW
Route to Polokwane, directions to FAPB and FAPI, other aviation attractions, visit to FAPI and other airfields visited
Route to Polokwane
Along the route to Polokwane there are several small civilian airfields. From Johannesburg it is best to take the the N1 North toll road to Polokwane (previously Pietersburg). Close to Bela Bela (old name Warm Baths) – make sure the offramp is Warm Baths or Bela-Bela and Settlers – one takes the alternative route (R101) via Modimolle (Nylstroom) and Mokopane (Potgietersrus). Before Bela Bela you turn right at the T-junction and after the bridge immediately right (you are now in Bela Bela).
From Polokwane you travel past the Ultra City to Mokopane (Potgietersrus), throught the town and take the alternative route (more or less parallel to the toll road) to Mokopane and Modimolle.
Directions to FAPB and FAPI
Polokwane international airport (FAPB) is to the left of the road to Zimbabwe/ Makhado (previous name Louis Trichardt) and for the Polokwane civilian airfield (ICAO code FAPI) you turn right from the road to Tzaneen (R71).
Other aviation attractions
For a while in the past Aero Commander 680 ZS-HAW, which used to be operated by Giyani Airways, was a familiar site in Pietersburg (as Polokwane was then called). On 19 September 1992 it was seen on display at Harry’s Scrap Yard.

Currently (last checked in 2004) former SAAF Canadair Sabre Mk 6 number 358 is displayed in the CBD of Polokwane.
Visit to FAPI
On 21 May 2005 only light aircraft were seen at FAPI. In 2004 the Polokwane Airshow took place at FAPI.
Main apron in front of terminal building        ZS-PBS, ZS-IDI, ZS-MYX, ZS-ITC
In front of G&L Aviation hangar          ZS-KNL
Area near and opposite Chopper Transport hangar          ZS-JMD, ZS-REZ, ZS-RPF, ZS-RPH, ZS-FOJ
Took off just after having arrived                  ZS-NDZ
Gyrocopters outside hangar to right of terminal building ZU-CLE, ZU-DFG, ZU-DNG
Hard standing to right of main apron  ZS-NNT
Wreck                                                            ZS-IFX
ZS-FOJ        Piper PA-28-235
ZS-IDI          Cessna 337
ZS-IFX          Cessna 177 Cardinal; wings and portion of cabin
ZS-ITC         Beech Baron; Model 95-B55; c/n TC-1469; Beech Ac Corp
ZS-JMD        Cessna 182 Skylane II
ZS-KNL        Cessna 402
ZS-MYX        Cessna 210
ZS-NDZ        Cessna 210 with tail boom
ZS-NNT        Air Tractor AT-402; c/n 402-0945
ZS-PBS        Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II
ZS-REZ        Robinson R44 Astro
ZS-RPF        Cessna 182
ZS-RPH        Cessna 182
ZU-CLE        Sycamore Mk I; “André”
ZU-DFG        Sycamore Mk I
ZU-DNG       Sycamore Mk I; “Ronel Basson”
Other airfields visited
To get to Potgietersrus Airfield (ICAO code FAPP) turn right, from the direction of Polokwane, at the last road (Chroompark) out of Mokopane (old name Potgietersrus). The name of the street is HF Verwoerd. The road to the airfield is the second or third street to the left (becomes a dirt road) and goes straight to the airfield. There was a Pawnee Brave (ZS-OUA) under the open shade; all the hangars were closed and there were no other aircraft outside.
The hangars at Nylstroom Airfield (ICAO code FANY) are visible from the road. When you see the buildings, immediatly drive slower and prepare to turn sharp left. Parachutes (as during the previous visit), a Cessna 206 and a microlight were seen outside.
352 Cheetah C SAAF, 2 Squadron lowviz camo, light c/s; 9-point star; Cheetah C cheetah nose; 52 repeated nose, ahead of cockpit and nose door
356 Cheetah C   lowviz camo; dark c/s; Cheetah C cheetah nose; 56 repeated nose, ahead of cockpit and nose door
727 Cessna 185 SAAF, 44 Squadron No unit badge; camo with red spinner and flag;
skyshout version
858 Cheetah D SAAF 2 Squadron lowviz camo; dark c/s; 9-point star; Cheetah D
cheetah nose; 58 repeated nose, ahead of cockpit and nose door
1210 Oryx SAAF, 19 Squadron camo, flag
2018 Astra SAAF, Central Flying School Astra c/s
2020 Astra SAAF, Silver Falcons Astra c/s; Falcon 3, Maj Alex van Oostveen
2023 Astra SAAF, Silver Falcons Astra c/s; Falcon 1, Lt Col Rodney King
2025 Astra SAAF, Silver Falcons Astra c/s; Falcon 4, Capt Ryan Cokayne; Cheetah Killer
2028 Astra SAAF, Silver Falcons Astra c/s; Falcon 2, Lt Vaughn Gryffenberg
3002 Caravan I SAAF, 41 Squadron std c/s
6887 C-47TP SAAF std TP c/s, flag; presumably 35 Sqd, but no badge; apparently target tug
8010 C212-200 SAAF, 44 Squadron no unit badge; 9-point star; flag; lowviz c/s
C5-GAL B727-294   white with gold and red trim; c/n 22043
S9-BOE B727-22C   all-white; c/n 19192
EL-GPX B727-23   white with grey lower fuselage; three engines and starboard wing section missing; c/n 19129
TC-IYA B727-2F2   white with blue tailfin and rear upper fuselage; c/n 22999
ZS-ARV CV340 Rovos Air Full colour scheme and titles
ZS-CPC Extra 300   Red Bull c/s
ZS-FJS Cessna 172 African Pilot  
ZS-IJH B727-116C Interair SA all-white with titles and logo; c/n 19813
ZS-IJI B707-323C   white with blue tailfin and cheat line and
grey lower fuselage as well as Inter Air titles and logo on tailfin; c/n 19517
ZS-JAI Cessna 182   white with yellow/blue/purple trim; NAC/
Goodyear; diesel power; ex LDF-22 and
ZS-LPK Pitts    
ZS-MBW Zlin 50 Mazda Zoom-Zoom  
ZS-MMI P166S    
ZS-NJX P166S   white with black trim
ZS-NWG Cessna 172 G&L Aviation off-white with grey/lblue/dblue trim
ZS-ODX Super Decathlon   white/red with dblue trim
ZS-OOT Queen Air   cream with grey, lblue and black trim; ico logo and small a/c in blue trim; Beech Ac Corp Mod 65-80 c/n LD-134
ZS-ORP Cessna 404   white with grey/red/blue trim; Giants logo
ZS-OVZ Stearman Huffin Puffin  
ZS-PEP Piper Cub   white with grey trim; Control Instruments/ Shurlok
ZS-RWY AS350B2 Star Flight For Life white with red line and various logos; air
ambulance/CellC, flag; c/n 2880
ZS-UTB Pitts   PM tech Holdings
ZS-WBG Pitts    
ZS-WWJ Zlin 50 Mazda Zoom-Zoom  
ZU-ACE Slick 360   white/red with gold trim; Exxon/Elite, Engen lubricants
ZU-ACI P166S Sasol ex-SAAF c/s; new SA flag
ZU-AUX Aero L-29 Sasol Tigers Tiger colour scheme
ZU-AYS Harvard Nissan/Castrol Aviator Flying Lions  
ZU-BAL Harvard   Ex SAAF 7526; SAAF c/s
ZU-BET Harvard Nissan/Castrol Aviator Flying Lions  
ZU-BEU Harvard Nissan/Castrol Aviator Flying Lions  
ZU-BLS Su-29   black/white with red trim; ex N129SU
ZU-BMC Harvard Nissan/Castrol Aviator Flying Lions  
ZU-CCO Samba   all-white with grey reggie; black 60 tail
ZU-COT Yak 55   maroon/yellow, with red star + white reggie; ex RA01357
ZU-CYI Aero L-29 Sasol Tigers Tiger colour scheme
ZU-DBM Samba   all-white with grey reggie
ZU-DHV Aero L-29 Sasol Tigers Tiger colour scheme
ZU-DMD Mirage IIIBZ SAAF Museum Flight ex SAAF 817; in Rainbow colours;
“Skydancer, A Rainbow Nation in flight for a better future; Pro Nostrorum Pace 1”
ZU-IMP Atlas Impala I Showdown Team ex SAAF 479 (eagle in castle, new flag, bluegrey tailfin)
ZU-JBD Lambada   all-white with grey reggie
ZU-KIM Aero L-39   Red 116, red Star; camo c/s with yellow trim
ZU-SXL Samba XL   white with grey/blue/red trim; Aircraft Instruments
ZU-TEE Aero L-39 Aviation Dimension white with red trim and red star
3C-JZW B707-351C   white with grey lower fuselage; c/n 18747
3D-ZZM B737-2H7C   all-white, black reggie, last 3 letters repeated nose door; c/n 20590
5N-BCY B727-235 Freedom Air black/red/white; appears to be intact; c/n 19461; 7 MAY 2002 Freedom Air Boeing 727 5N-BCY carrying 53 occupants suffered brake problems causing the brakes to be overheated. The aircraft was evacuated using slides. (This Day/All Africa)
5Y-BNJ B707-336C   white with blue tail + cheat line, light grey lower fuselage; at least one engine missing; c/n 19498
9J-AFW B737-202C Aero Zambia flag; cannibalized: tailfin and engines gone; c/n 19426
The sources for some of the information provided in this article are plaques erected at the airport. Data plates and other information appearing on aircraft were used as well. In addition, books like the jet airliner production lists for various manufacturers published by the Aviation Hobby Shop were consulted.
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