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.