AAD 2012 hosted at AFB Waterkloof opened for traders on the 19th of September and it was evident right from the time of my arrival that this year will be another huge event. Although the general public is not allowed on the trade days, traffic was a little congested when I arrived early in the morning and I shudder to think what it is going to look like on Saturday and Sunday when the event is open to the public. Although there are many marshals directing traffic inside the base, it still took me 40 minutes to get to a parking spot after entering the base. If you don't have privileged access to the event, make sure you pack you walking shoes. If you have privileged access, pack you walking shoes and your tranquilizers because you will enter through a different gate but still park on the far side. My advice, be there before six on the weekend.
I spent most of the day in the six exhibition halls and I was very impressed with the quality of the exhibits, especially Denel and Boeing. There is certainly something for everyone, ship manufacturers, tanks, guns, surveillance systems, personnel carriers, armoured vehicles, engines, parachutes, pilot supplies, flying schools, business jets, light aircraft, helicopters and much more than I can remember. Another tip is to get yourself the AAD Exhibitor Catalogue before you even start. This exceptional guide will give you all the information you need regarding the event and will save you lots of time if you are in pursuit of something specific.
Juju's new aircraft was also on display. Although hit was heavily guarded, I managed to get a quick photograph of it.
Outside the halls are loads of static displays and lots of toys for the big boys. Jets, jets and then there are some more jets. Many of them can be viewed inside and this is style you have never seen before. Of course there are also helicopters on display and believe it or not, some of them also fall in this luxurious or business league.
There are press conferences and announcements everywhere, some more exciting that others but I must add that after building such impressive stands, the sound at some of these were terrible and we sometimes left without knowing what it was all about. NAC however did not make this mistake. Their first announcement of the day was the NAC rebranding and this announcement was made by Martin Bannister during a lovely breakfast gathering in the NAC chalet. Martin explained what they had in mind when they considered this change and also how every piece represents a part of their organization and vision.
Let me be honest, my interest at AAD lies with the military jets and helicopters and there are more than enough of this to see on the ground and in the air. It is however disappointing that the USA participation is so small this year and the majority of military aircraft in the air today were from the South African Air Force. The Silver Falcons delivered a few performances, the Hawk, Gripen and the all-time South African favourite Cheetah.
Some call it the Italian Herc but its real name is the C27J Spartan and this took my breath away. An aircraft that looks similar to a C130 but loops, rolls and even flies a knife edge. This is a must see so make sure you are there to see this amazing performance.
There are many food stalls and a few benches but I am not sure if it will be enough to service everyone on the public days. Perhaps there will be more added later on but I will certainly pack my own bag with a bite to eat and something to drink to avoid long queues and delays. From what I saw, burgers are around the R45 mark and cold drinks are sold at R13 per can.
Saturday and Sunday the 22nd and 23rd of September will be the big air show days so make sure you get there early!!!