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Thunder City: A Pilot's Playground - School has world's largest privately owned collection of combat aircraft. from World Net Daily, Dispatch from South Africa.
Click on photos to enlarge
A letter from Sherry (May 2006):
Some time back you asked how our trip to Africa was. I am remiss in waiting this long to tell you what a spectacular time we had. So many times Bill and I reflect on the lifetime experience we had, both with the fighter jet flights in Capetown, and the safari...they were equally amazing and awesome.
Thank you so much for all of your help and patience in putting it all together. Londolozi was magical; we stayed in Suite number one in the Bateleur Camp, which is the one with the vanishing edge pool. Our tracker, Solomon was delightful. The whole experience was nothing short of spectacular - it captured a permanent place in our hearts and memories.
And of course, Bill's dream on flying in a fighter jet came true. We loved Mike and Nick and all the people at Thunder City. We still bask in the memory of it, always will I guess, and count it one of our greatest lifetime experiences. Bill has a little gallery of pictures on his office wall and even made a video set to Top Gun music! Let me know if you want a copy and I'll send it your way.
I have told so many friends about how awesome you were in coordinating the whole thing for us...some of them may be in touch in years to come...
Thanks again for everything.~ Sherry
A letter from PT, who flew the Hunter over Cape Town (December 2002):
Dear Boys and Girls
Just had to email you all to make you all green with envy. A couple of days ago flew a 50 min flight in a Swiss Hunter with Mike Beachyhead as pilot (the chief of Thunder City who flies the Lightning and Buccaneer). Had an hours' briefing on how to use the ejector seat with all its attendant straps and oxygen supply connections beforehand. Instructed the wife in digital photography beforehand as thought we might be throwing the Hunter around quite a bit so left Carol Ann and the camera on the ground.
Took off in formation with another Hunter (the black one) and we both flew out over Capetown at 1500 feet. Flew to a military practice area 5 minutes (at 400 km/h) north when we broke right and the other Hunter broke left. Mike then let me take the controls for some general handling at 400 km/h. Then Mike did some aerobatics - aileron rolls, wingovers, barrel rolls and loops - finally pulling 4.5g at 1000km/h entry speed for the loops. He then let me have a go at some aileron rolls, loops, a half Cuban and wingovers.
Then did some low level work - simulated ground attacks - beating up a deserted beach at 100ft at 1000km/h (Mach 0.9) - feeling of speed was incredible! Then Mike flew his air display routine - bloody hell! Loops, Cubans, Derry turns, hesitation rolls, rapid aileron rolls and vertical rolls up to 11,000 feet - at one stage we pulled a sustained 5.5g (the Hunter is stressed up to +7g) turn for about 15 seconds! It felt longer - the helmet and visor really press down hard on your head and the oxygen mask presses so hard down on your nose it feels bruised afterwards. I felt the beginnings of greying out - with peripheral vision going and colour vision beginning to go. No G-LOC though thank god! Also it gets really hard to breathe as well as move but then I was weighing 550kg at the time!
After about 30mins of intense aerobatics at full RPM we were down to 700lbs of fuel - started with 1400lb so Mike let me fly it back to Capetown to join right base runway 19 behind a 747-400 when I thought it prudent to hand back to him! Unfortunately there was a Tomahawk PA38 in the circuit otherwise Mike would have let me fly a circuit after a go-around - but such is life.
Landed after 50 mins flying hot and sweaty and probably a bit cerebrally hypoxic from all that g force! I am now probably an inch shorter. If you look at Mike in the photos you would never have guessed he used to be over six feet tall until he started to fly all of those aerobatics!
The bad news is that I now have to compensate Mrs. C with a piece of jewellery to her specification - another example of how two wrongs can make a right!
PT and Carol Ann (chief photographer)
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