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Cape Town Jets - Announcement of August 2010

Immediate release
August 2010
Thunder City
Cape Town, South Africa


Thunder City, which has the world's largest civilian-owned fleet of ex-combat jets including three English Electric Lightnings, three BAe Buccaneers, seven Hawker Hunters and a retrofitted Puma helicopter, is to cease flying operations with immediate effect.

Making the announcement founder and CEO of Thunder City, Mike Beachy Head says, "After a decade of indelible memories and enormous thrills in flying international and local visitors in our distinctive jets, we have decided to cease the flying activities at the base.

"Established under the name Thunder City in 2000, the brand has gone on to become one of the most globally recognised as a home-grown South African one. Seen by millions of TV viewers in countries across the planet, the iconic Thunder City jets have inspired many to travel to Cape Town to experience the thrill and adrenaline-rush of flying in a supersonic ex-military jet. We have had a lot of worldwide media exposure, especially in Europe and the USA. TV networks from all over the world have filmed documentaries on the Thunder City operation. These include household names such as Sky TV, CNN and the Discovery Channel, as well as Turkish, Austrian, Chinese, Dutch, French, Spanish and several German TV channels and also our own Top Billing and MNet's Carte Blanche."

Beachy Head says that it was not an easy decision to make, but that a number of factors such as the current slow economy, high cost of maintenance and short to medium term prospects, had influenced the closure. He says that the 13 jets will be moth-balled until a final decision is made as to the future of this valuable and historic collection.

During the past decade the Thunder City jets have flown more than 2000 sorties and generated revenue of R100million. Many celebrities such as Mark Shuttleworth, Sir Richard Branson, as well as many Middle Eastern sheiks and princes, and European royalty have flown in the super-powerful English Electric Lightning, the pride of the fleet, as well as their other jets. Some flying enthusiasts have saved up to come to Cape Town for the thrill of a lifetime. What can be more enjoyable than flying over Cape Town with some of the world's most spectacular scenery, with panoramic views of Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula, dotted with white beaches along the surrounding coastline and vineyards on the lower reaches of the nearby majestic mountain ranges. Being at the foot of Africa, it is also one of the most uncluttered air spaces on the planet, making it the ideal place to fly in supersonic jets.= No more will the thunderous jets enthral visitors to airshows, where the raw power, iconic shapes, manoeuvrability and consummate flying skills of the pilots will be missed.

Beachy Head concludes, "Although this is the end of an era for flights in Thunder City's fast jets, we will continue working on the Puma SA 330 helicopter retrofit and upgrade programme which was begun 3 years ago. Thunder City, which is a certified Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO), has completed both the rigorous P4 inspection process and a full avionics upgrade on their first retrofitted Puma helicopter, through the installation of the "glass cockpit" concept, which incorporates the digital era. There are currently another four Pumas in various stages of rebuild.

"One of the clear trends is the development of digital avionics technology, and being able to upgrade mechanically sound aircraft with "glass cockpits", cost-effectively. There is currently a global shortage of medium-lift helicopter capacity to satisfy the needs for Search & Rescue, transport for military personnel and oil exploration crews.

"Finally, we wish to thank all the many visitors who have flown with us for their support. We are also grateful to the print and electronic media for the generous coverage they have provided over the past 10 years. It will be very quiet at the base without the distinctive sounds of the various Rolls Royce jet engines starting up and also over the skies of Cape Town. It's been an more exhilarating ride and we greatly appreciate all the efforts that our dedicated maintenance team at the base have put in over the years. Who knows, if circumstances change the mighty roar of the jets may be heard again at some time in the future."

Issued by:Fraser 4 Public Relations on behalf of: Thunder City

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