big SA flag at the Klerksdorp Airshow : 26
By Ralph Ridge, D805
Arriving early to prepare for the opening
act, it was time to ship the big flag
off to the waiting Albatross.
jumped the aircraft many times my heart
still skips a beat whenever I exit
and have to go under the propeller.
Leaving in the correct position in relation
to landing is critical as steering the
486 square metre flag is tricky, even
in nil wind conditions.
The flag weighs in at 76 kg so I use
a tandem rig which normally carries passengers
but with no arms or legs or someone to
talk to, concentration is at a max.
We leave the aircraft on time just above
6,000ft accelerating to 300kph in 10
drogue to slow down to 200kph, it’s
time to activate the parachute, steering
the parachute to where I need to be
then, at 4,000ft, the flag is released.
The process is slow but precise and when
the flag is deployed the real work begins.
Starting a landing pattern has already
begun and you need to land in front of
the thousands of people gathered below.
During the jump, the National Anthem
is played and the excitement is heightened
as the show begins. The display team
lands first followed by the big flag.
On the spot and on time.
This is not a normal jump and the pride
I feel after jumping the biggest flag
in Africa is everlasting...
Gathering up my gear then off to the
skydiving club and still seven jumps
to do ... this was not a normal watching
T.V. day, but one to remember.
to the pilots of the Albatross, to
display jumpers: Graham, Jim and Marietjie
and to the organisers of the Klerksdorp
Airshow…. each year they pull
something special out of the bag and
really make it an air show not to be
(Photographs: Graham Field)