Ysterplaat’s Wings and Wheels show canned


The Wings and Wheels show scheduled for AFB Ysterplaat next weekend has been cancelled, depriving Western Cape aviation enthusiasts of what was set to be a major attraction that would have set the tone for the festive season in the province.

The show’s provisional flying programme released last week ran through from 2 Squadron Gripens and the Silver Falcons display team to Super Lynx and Rooivalk on the military side, with supporting aircraft including the venerable C-47TP and Oryx helicopter.

A Hawker Hunter and Buccaneer were also scheduled to fly along with an L-39 and Pitts Specials and Harvards showing the aerobatic skills of pilots in close formations. Other aircraft on the flying programme included the first visit to Cape Town of a P-51 Mustang.

On Tuesday morning personnel at the base were tersely informed the show would no longer go ahead as planned with a statement (hopefully) providing more details on the reasons for the cancellation due to be released by SAAF headquarters in Pretoria.

More than 24 hours after the Ysterplaat meeting, SAAF media liaison officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Maseko told defenceWeb the statement had been drafted and was with Major General Cedric Masters, Director: Policy and Planning for final approval. At the time of publication it had not been received.

The late cancellation left base personnel “gutted,” a person close to the event said.

Western Cape newspapers reported Guptagate (the unauthorised arrival at AFB Waterkloof of a chartered aircraft bringing wedding guests of the Zuma-connected Gupta family to South Africa) with its breaches of security was behind the cancellation. Die Burger said the SAAF did not want to find itself facing “another debacle” where air force facilities were used for financial gain.

The newspaper said organisers of the Wings and Wheels event, which was to have run on December 7 and 8, called the cancellation “an error of epic proportions”.

More than 60 000 people were expected to attend the two-day event which comes after a similar one two years ago. People involved with the show said pre-paid ticket sales through outlets such as Computicket were “good” and Internet aviation forums also showed a high level of interest. In one instance a poster said he had bought tickets for him and his family to fly from Johannesburg to be at the event.

Cape Town city councillor responsible for tourism and special events, Grant Pascoe, told the newspaper the late cancellation was “a disappointment”. He hoped answers would be forthcoming from the SAAF.

Exhibitors indicated they will be seeking legal redress after having spent money on booking space and having special promotional material made up.