Lightning Strikes Cape Town

Rare high-performance British jets are drawing fans to a new airshow on the circuit.

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“Excellent!” the new Mach-buster reported. And despite a fare of £100 ($160) per minute, he said, “I would do it again.”

Of course, not many are as able or willing as Wells to ride one of the black rockets, so Beachy Head and Alan Ramsay, publisher of Car and other slick South African magazines, have come up with a lollapalooza of a scheme to pull in the rest. Thunder City is to be, among other things, an entertainment center, based at Cape Town International, filled with airplanes and cars of every description, from every corner of the world. In addition to watching videos, playing with touch screens, and oohing at fighters on display, visitors will be able to get blasted in an ejection seat, race a dragster, pull Gs in a dogfighting roller coaster, and make muddy doughnuts in real four-wheelers. And at the center of it all will be Beachy Head’s fleet of jets: the Buc, the Strikemaster, and four Lightnings—that’s right, four; he’s so pleased with the aircraft he’s gone back to England for another three, all of which he hopes to return to flying condition in the near future.

“Our mission is to make Cape Town the jet Oshkosh of the world,” Beachy Head says. “This is where all the jet junkies will come.”

He may be right. Bookings for rides in his jets spiked after their appearance at the Ysterplaat show. And at the next show, scheduled for October 27, 2000, there should be two Lightnings flying.

If you attend, remember two things: First, bring plenty of sunblock, and second, if a pretty girl offers, say yes to the monkey gland sauce.


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