A couple of weekends ago we attended the Africa Aerospace and Defence Show or AAD 2014. The show was held at Waterkloof Air Force Base near Centurion from September 20-21 2014 and while we were initially quite noncommittal about attending this event (we feared huge crowds, too hot etc) we had a fantastic day and we were both so glad that we went, even if we did end up a bit sunburned.
There are a ton of things to see at AAD so you should plan to arrive by mid-morning if you want to see most of them. Traffic was really bad getting off the highway and into the parking area so you need to allow extra time for that as well. We bought and printed our tickets online from Computicket and were able to stroll right in to the show once we finally got parked.
Defence Vehicule Demonstration
AAD is an impressive event that includes air and land defence displays, vehicule mobilty demonstrations and best of all, an amazing airshow showcasing displays from various aeronautical organizations across the globe. My only regret is not hauling along my DSLR camera for the aerial shots as I was feeling a bit lazy but I did manage some ok shots with my little Canon P&S.
Tank during the ground defence demonstration
Ground Defence Demonstration
Little Annie of the Just Love Mission (JLM)
One of my absolute favorite parts of the show was getting to meet the canine anti-rhino poaching heros from Paramount Group. These dogs are truely amazing. They are trained to rappel out of a helicopter with their handlers through a thick cloud of smoke in order to neutralize suspected rhino poachers on the ground.
Paramount Group Canine Unit
Not just another pretty face…
This pup is 7 weeks old and will soon be starting his training to be part of the canine unit
There were so many different aircraft on display and a host of enthusiastic representatives happy to share their knowledge about them. And what was cool, since it IS an airshow, as you are walking around you can simply look up to see the action going on overhead.
This plane looks to be missing the back part
This is Parabot. He was constructed by the Paramount Group to raise awareness concerning rhino poaching. See the rhino horn on his head ? Pretty cool.
Even the Americans made an appearance
From the moment we purchased tickets, there was one aircraft that the Frenchie talked non-stop about getting to see, the Gripen. I of course had never heard of this Swedish-made airforce fighter jet and therefore didn’t really share his enthusiasm on the subject. That is, until I got the chance to see and HEAR it up close and personal. Seeing this baby go screeching by right over your head in a couple split seconds was really sensational not to mention the sound levels that were comparable to a Formula 1 race.
After seeing most everything on the ground, we joined the crowd in front of the airstrip for a closer view of the show. This included a staged attack/bombing/rescue demonstration as well as various acrobatic displays. The regulars (not us) in the know brought their own camp chairs as seating is pretty limited at the show.
How they can fly in these formations without crashing into each other amazes me.
Up, Up and Away
Peek-a-boo, I see you
Fake bombs were going off all over the place creating a bit of a jumpy crowd (and a few crying children)
Hauling someone back up after the ground mission
Gripen in flight. It was impossible to get a clear shot of this so I added a bit of mood.
After staying out under the sun for as long as we could handle, we took one last walk through the exhibit halls and came across an interactive weapon display. By interactive I mean you could pick these up and pretend you are Rambo incarnated. Here the Frenchie is trying to look all bad-ass with a really heavy bazooka-ish gun. There was quite a bit of debate between us on which direction to hold this but it seems the Frenchie has got it right.
By the end of the afternoon, I was hot, sunburned and exhausted and the Frenchie still had to drag me out of the show. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed the day, especially considering we weren’t really sure we even wanted to go. If you are an aviation and/or defence enthusiast and even if you aren’t, you will want to be sure to put this on your calendar for next year, and don’t forget your camp chairs.