ONE of the attractions on the Virginia Airshow has been the close proximity of the spectators to the action. The action does not just take place in the air where it could be seen by spectators all over the suburbs north of Durban, but more importantly by the paying spectators who also had the benefit of seeing the take-off and landings often in formation from up close. But it is also one of the reasons why the airshow was cancelled.
Stuart Low, president of the Durban Wings Club (the organisers of the airshow), said in recent years various factors have increased the challenge of running a successful airshow.
“Worldwide, and no less in South Africa the challenges include, rising fuel costs, reduced or no contribution by the SAAF, higher expectations by enthusiasts and spectators, and rising standards for public safety. Virginia, as a working air field has many buildings and hangars and it is necessary to position the spectators in front of and between the buildings. This brings the crowd line within 50 meters of the runway,” he said.
Low added safety standards set down by the Civil Aviation Authority, through RAASA (the body governing air shows and recreational flying) require the distance to be more than double what is available at Virginia.
“This would greatly reduce the crowd size and make the show financially impractical. The club has pursued various alternatives and have also considered moving to another airport. None of these have proved practical within the timescale we have,” he said.
The Virginia Airshow is the second longest continuous running civilian airshow in the world.