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Africa Aerospace & Defence 2002: Air Show (Video)

Reviewed By: Greg Pullin

Africa Aerospace & Defence 2002 (AAD 2002), an international air, ground and sea trade show, was held at AFB Waterkloof, South Africa, from 18 to 22 September 2002.

The video is of the flying display and does not attempt to cover the whole AAD 2002 experience. The cover states "Air Show", but I would have thought that some footage of the aircraft on display would have been appropriate.

There is no formal commentary at all, except for that which was picked up from the PA during the actual displays. I found this most strange, as I felt that a brief formal introduction of what the whole event was all about would enlighten viewers who were not present at the show. The PA commentary was at times very soft and disjointed. This meant that if the whole sequence was not shown, then there was no mention of what type of aircraft was displaying. This is not a problem for the enthusiast, but Joe Public would be mystified. The BIG plus of this was that the aircraft sounds could actually be heard, without annoying senseless drivel and overbearing music spoiling the whole effect. Whether this was by accident or design is unknown, but much appreciated by the enthusiast.

Some of the aircraft were identified by titles added during the edit stage, but this was not consistently applied and gave the impression of a half-job.

The video was a single-camera production, with the obvious limitations of only one viewpoint. One of the frustrations of photography at AFB Waterkloof, is that as the sun moves, aircraft photographed or video footage taken from the press enclosure / commentary area, places the aircraft in silhouette, in the afternoon. As the Gripen and Hawk displays took place late in the afternoon, much of their display sequences are in silhouette. Moving the camera to the other side of the runway would have placed the aircraft in better lighting. But by doing this the "free" commentary would have been "lost" and some editing work would have to have been done. Mmm ... !

Another irritating feature (NOT the fault of the video camera operator), was the idiotic insistence of the commentary / sound organizers to place a large raised speaker just in front of and to the side of the press photographers enclosure, where much of the footage was shot from. This ruined many take off and landing sequences. Again, another camera position might have been more appropriate.

In summary, I will list what I consider to be the "plus factors" and the "constructive criticisms":

Plus factors:

  1. Hearing the engine noise of the aircraft. (This cannot be overemphasized!)
  2. Air to air footage of the Gripen and Hawk.
  3. Air to ground footage of the static display area. (A very nice touch - albeit brief snippets).
  4. Spectacular take off sequences of three Cheetahs in formation, the Lockheed C-5B Galaxy, the B-1B Lancer and the low flypast by the SAA 747.
  5. Excellent close up footage of the Extra 300 aerobatic sequence and the switchblade maneuver of the three Shurlock Pitts Specials.
  6. Commentary from the cockpit during the SAA 747 display (a bit faint though).
  7. Reasonable coverage of most of the flying displays.
  8. A decent length production.
  9. Cheap price.

 Constructive criticisms:

  1. The video is basically 84 minutes (as per my video machine clock and not 90 minutes as stated).
  2. Lack of formal commentary and relying on the PA to provide the commentary.
  3. Lack of edited background music. This is not a major problem, as one wants to hear the sound the aircraft makes.
  4. Not identifying each aircraft, whether by voice or titles. An example of this was that an entire aerobatic sequence was flown, including 31 consecutive rolls, without the aircraft being identified.
  5. Poor editing in places.
  6. Poor camera viewpoint in places.
  7. Bad "jumping" of the camera during the "Super" Mirage F1 sequence.
  8. Cutting to the obligatory crowd scenes became irritating because there were far to many of them. There also appeared to be a fixation with a young lady with a long lens - shown 4 different times! (Webmaster's comment: this could also be seen as a bonus ;-))
  9. Complete lack of footage of the amazing line up of static aircraft, which ranged from a USAF B-1B bomber, F-15E Strike Eagle, Lockheed C-130 Hercules and a C-9 ambulance aircraft; the static SAAF aircraft and displays; the static SAAF Museum aircraft; the many civilian aircraft, business jets and helicopters, the French Air Force C-160 Transall, Botswana DF BF-5D, etc.
  10. Lack of engine start ups.
  11. Lack of close ups of interesting features of various aircraft.
  12. Lack of pilot interviews.
  13. Not a balanced view of the whole event.

Overall impression: I was a bit disappointed in the video and felt that tighter editing, better camera angles and a brief overall coverage of the whole event would have been appropriate. However, I must comment that I am pleased that the time and effort was made to try and produce a video.

Price: R75.00 plus R25.00 postage and packing

Would I spend R75.00 on buying this video? After all the constructive criticisms, yes, I would still actually pay R75, but only because of the 10 minutes of real spectacular footage.

(My qualifications to crit the video? I was at the show all of the trade and public days and know what was on display.) 

PAL 90 minutes

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