Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Cultural Expedition To A Nearby Air Show

Warning: this post is picture intensive.

Over the weekend the Africa Aerospace And Defence 2006 expo and air show was held in Cape Town. Usually they forget to hold air shows in Cape Town, so everyone was very excited.

I prepared the night before by packing non-alcoholic drinks, and a few food supplies, in my bag, along with photographic equipment, my hat, and 11-year-old (ie: mature) factor-10 sunblock.

On the morning of the show I had to get up at some ridiculous hour, which I don't want to talk about. I wore my special (ie: many pockets, saved for special occasions) cargo pants for the event, which I hadn't worn since returning from my London vacation - I found my return-ticket stub in a pocket, along with a chocolate. I know most people are more likely to find money but, well, you read my blog. You know who you're dealing with.

Here are some of the highlights of the air show, taken with my digital camera. I took most of my more important shots with my Pentax film camera, but they haven't been developed yet, so this is a B-grade showcase.

8:40am

Above: 8:40am: We wait in the queue to enter the airfield...

8:42am

Above: 8:42am: ...as you can see, we're not moving. At this point I'd already eaten my breakfast food stash, which I had actually been saving for later.

9:19am

Above: 9:19am: The barricades prevented the men from manhandling their idols. Important.

Someone told me that this is a Gripen. What the hell do I know? Ask me about computer components and televisions. That's about as technologically geeky as I get.

9:32am

Above: 9:32am: Proudly South African: Denel's Seeker II UAV Surveillance System. It's an unmanned craft (of course - where are you going to find a man small enough to fit in it*?). I think it's what Google uses to make its maps**.

9:35am: Overheard from passersby: son realises all the food sucks and tries to implement a plan:
Mother: "Where're you gonna find pancakes?"
Son: "Last time there were pancakes here!"

9:39am

Above: 9:39am: Food tokens. Yeah, you read that right. You had to stand in a queue to buy tokens so that you could stand in a queue to buy drinks and then stand in another queue to buy food. The girly men I was with didn't plan well, like I did, and didn't have their own food stashes, so we had to stand in a queue to buy tokens, then stand in a queue to buy food, then stand in a queue to buy drinks, then stand in another queue to buy different food, and then stand and wait around while they made the food. By this time I had arbed[*] off to do something besides stand in a queue for food that wasn't for me (more on that in a minute).

At least standing in all those queues gave us time to understand the monetary system. I thought the reds meant R1, the greens R2, and the yellows R5, or even R10, but it turns out that the yellows meant R1, the greens mean R2, and the reds meant R5. It took us a while to figure this out as, although the amounts are printed on the tokens, it wasn't immediately apparent that this was the case. Everyone was arbing around in a daze trying to figure out the system, and randomly handing tokens to servers in the food booths hoping that they'd be kind and hand back the correct token change. The last time I played with fake money tokens I was in pre-school...

By the way, these days it's impossible to obtain bank bags from banks, so I'm impressed with the South African National Defence Force's powers of persuasion.

9:43am

Above: 9:43am: Results from food queue one: this is a Twister. It's a potato that's been somehow concertina sliced and then shoved on a stick. It's boiled in oil until all flavour is removed and it tastes like oily, burnt cardboard. It's apparently a delicacy. You can improve the flavour (slightly) by adding flavourings (supplied at the ordering window), such as sour cream and chives, BBQ, peri-peri, "Aromatex", salt and vinegar, and salt.

9:48am

Above: 9:48am: You'd be forgiven for thinking this was a cooldrink stand (circa 1984). It's actually a token booth. Not the token booth, just a token booth. We found this out the hard way. (Presumably, it's camouflaged to tie in with the occasion being an air show and defense showcase).

9:49am

Above: 9:49am: The All Gold Taste Police. I don't really know what that means. After standing in food queue number two, then waiting, then finally obtaining your boerewors roll, you could go to the All Gold Taste Police to obtain free All Gold tomato sauce.

Ok, wait. I get it. The Taste Police were trying to make the food taste better. Where were they when we bought that Twister?

9:51am

Above: 9:51am: This is where I went while everyone else was standing in food queues. This is the police helicopter. I think it had just returned from a pride parade because it was covered in ribbons.

Later in the day I walked right past it and noticed that the entire inside of the windshield was covered in condensation. I guess the helicopter leaks. I can sympathise. So does my car***.

10:38am

Above: 10:38am: A tank. Elsewhere, children were allowed to clamber all over the display tanks and military vehicles, but this one is apparently special.

10:39am

Above: 10:39am: Proudly South African: Denel's SS77 General Purpose Machine Gun.

10:39am

Above: 10:39am: Proudly South African: Denel's Acrobat 60mm Mortar System. I have one at home.

10:41am

Above: 10:41am: Proudly South African: Denel's Archer Helmet Display System.

10:41am

Above: 10:49am: Proudly South African: Imperial Armour is the one-stop company for personal protection. It's where I buy my armoured luggage and bulletproof camping equipment.

10:51am

Above: 10:51am: Global Armour will outfit almost anything, including your attack dog and gay mannequins (the one with the skew helmet, in case you couldn't tell). Notice how he almost has a penis, but not quite? I don't think that's not so much subtle commentary on the military's feelings towards gay people as an attempt to shield the children.

10:52am

Above: 10:52am: Check out the mannequin with the abs to the right, at the back. That's almost as impressive as the Woolworths mannequins with the pert nipples.

11:24am

Above: 11:24am: It's the RedBull Academy flying whatever acrobatic team. I forget. They aren't doing any acrobatic manoeuvres here because they're on the ground.

11:45am

Above: 11:45am: Drinks queue one (for the second time): this Coke can is an actual drinks booth, and not a token booth.

Illustrated is my personal moment of journalistic glory (and cultural disappointment). This shameful sign was posted all over all the booths, bar one near the air show's public viewing area, which actually accepted real money. The apostrophe is in the wrong place, which is disgraceful, and the word is wrong, anyway, because it should be "your".

2:03pm

Above: 2:03pm: Oh. I nearly forgot. There were planes and helicopters flying around all day. This is an Airbus A340.

* I am joking, of course. I know it's a model.
** Still joking.
*** Technically it's not my car, but that's a long story. I mean, longer than this story.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous kyknoord said...

I'm impressed. It almost sounds like fun.

Thursday, September 28, 2006 7:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Katt said...

Your entry made me laugh! A totally different take on airshows. Sadly one of the Sasol Tigers was killed the day before during practise.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 3:49:00 PM  
Blogger Mandy J Watson said...

I know. We saw the two remaining Sasol Tigers parked very sadly near the RedBull team.

I didn't want to bring down the tone of the piece by mentioning it, though, but I'm glad you've said so in the comments here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 3:54:00 PM  

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