We are all still reeling from the dreadful news of Michel's accident at an airshow on Saturday 27 August 2016, and I am certain that the entire Sport Aerobatic Club as well as the wider aviation fraternity will be deeply affected by his passing for a very very long time.
The name Michel Leusch will never be forgotten amongst our ranks.
Our thoughts, condolences and prayers go out to both his family and to the Stark family; we wish you all strength during this terrible time, and although there is nothing that can fully assuage the pain I hope that you can all take some level of comfort in the knowledge that Michel experienced more and achieved more, in his way too short life, than most people will ever be able to. His was a life so very well lived.
Nathalie please always remember that you are a treasured member of the aerobatics family and we are all here for you.
I would like to also express our heartfelt condolences to his fellow team mates, as well as his close friends based in Durban his home town. Michel held a special place in all our hearts.
Anyone who knew Michel quickly understood that he was an extremely well liked and much admired person. However, the extent of peoples admiration for him, as demonstrated by the torrential outpouring of heartfelt emotion on social media from people across the world, has left even those who knew him well, astonished at the deep impact that Michel had on so many people.
Who he was, what he stood for, the challenges he so victoriously overcame, and how he conducted his life has inspired people across the globe, and that inspiration will not end with this passing.
Michel was without a doubt one of the most talented pilots this country has ever seen. A current world champion in full size aerobatics, and a multiple national title holder in model aerobatics. Michel had a feel for an aeroplane, and understood the art of flight in a way that was almost mystical; he was really that good. There is no doubt that he would have reached the highest echelons of world aerobatics.
Not only was he an extraordinarily gifted aviator, he was an exceptional human being too. A thoroughly lovable character with a witty and warm sense of humour that was never belittling of others.
More notably, Michel possessed a humility that was an example to all. Never boasting about his magnificent achievements, Michel never behaved as if he were superior to anyone, (although he often had valid reason to believe so). He also never believed that he was owed anything, and so he never took anything or anyone for granted. Here is just one example – recently while training near Durban an old lady whom he did not know, called the tower to express her gratitude for the aerobatics she was watching that gave her so much pleasure. When the message was passed onto Michel he took the time to contact her and invited her and her grandchildren to see his airplane. What kind of a person does that for someone they have never met?
In addition to being extremely appreciative of whatever assistance he received, Michel was himself very generous in giving of his time, experience and skill. He trained, mentored, coached and inspired hundreds of radio controlled and many full size pilots too.
We will all miss him very much, but the example he set in overcoming adversity and triumphing in the most gracious and humble way possible will continue to inspire us.
His example and legacy live on, and through his extraordinary achievements his name will forever be firmly stamped in the lexicon of aerobatics.
DURBAN SKY GP
With the launch of the SKY GP in Durban held recently we are blessed to have the
international pilots back on our soil at the end of May 2016.
The 5 International pilots competing in this years SKY GP will be:
We look forward to seeing you all there - book at Computicket now.
NEW ACTIVE AEROBATIC BOXES
Kitty Hawk, Tempe, Middleburg & Uitenhage all have active aerobatic boxes as of
March this year. We will be able to host aerobatic events at these locations in the
near future. These new aerobatic boxes together with Vereeniging and
Syferfontein will help to promote the sport in a safe way.
There are standard procedures for the activation and closure of these boxes.
Please refer to the document in the Briefing Room on this website.
It is with great pride and joy that I get to congratulate Michel Leusch on his new title. WORLD INTERMEDIATE AEROBATIC CHAMPION.
The event was not without its interruptions from the weather as two competition program flights could not be completed. I doubt if it would have had any effect on Michel’s overall score but for the rest it could have.
The feedback from every pilot who flew was positive and we all learned a lot from the experience. Some local pilots had their first introduction to international judges and this would be very valuable going forward to prepare for future comps around the world.
The British Pilots could not believe how they were treated as celebrities in Swellendam by the town locals. "We can only try but will fail to make you guys feel as welcome in the UK compared to the South African experience" they said. The New Zealand team manager wished they had our energy as they can only scrape two competitions together a year.
Once again we had a superb weekend of flying and Fantastic social at the NW-Regionals. Thanks to Cliff Lotter for his outstanding organization. This is the venue to beat. Export quality Steaks were done better than any restaurant can provide and Cliffy I wonder what you will provide at Nationals to better this one.
Not only are the food outstanding but Cliff also provided probably a world first by having 2 aerobatic boxes marked on the ground, allowing the judges to have the sun behind them at all time.
As for the flying, the HZ suppliers are out of stock after the weekends flying and we hope that they do not get back in production soon. Maybe the sun out of the eyes of the judges improved their vision.
The Best Gracious Flying we have ever witness at a local event was done by Riaan Prinsloo in his YAK18T. If only we had a video camera.
We can all agree that this was a successful event held at a brilliant venue. As we flew in on Thursday I was greeted with a 40 Knot Headwind into Bloemfontein. It was cold and with that wind, there was clearly no flying in the box. Friday morning with icy conditions and wind-chill below 0 deg we got flying only around 9am. The benefit of these cold conditions was good engine performance.
The amount of work that has gone into building such an incredible aerobatic box marked on the ground was clearly visible from the sky above. Wally Goodrich and Conrad Botha have created the best looking aerobatic box in South Africa, if not in most parts of the world.
Gary Whitecross has joined the SAC with his Pilatus B4 Glider and kicked off what hopefully sooner rather than later will become a great new following in aerobatic competition flying in RSA.
Would you believe it, we did not get blown away! The week started with winds up to 35Kts on the ground and stronger in the box. The last 2 days,although cold,were windless compared to the start of the week with unbelievable flying conditions.
Some pilots flew their first competitions at Nationals and we are pleased to see new talent joining our family. The evening socials as always are very enjoyable, and once again the folks at the Klerksdorp Airfield delivered.
The winners of each class were:
Sportsman -Jason Alexander
Advanced -Elton Bondi
Unlimited -Nigel Hopkins
Freestyle -Nigel Hopkins
By Neville Ferreira