There will be some heart-in-the-mouth moments for Durban Airshow crowds on Saturday when local pilot Michel Leusch turns his plane upside down above his partner, Roger Deare.
Their two planes will be just two metres apart.
It will be the first time that a Durban aerobatic team has carried out a mirror image manoeuvre at the show.
“Michel will be the nut in the upside down plane,” Deare laughed after the daredevil duo returned from practising over Durban on Wednesday.
Their Zoo York Zlin Aerobatic Team display will be one of some dozen formation teams at Virginia Airport, and Deare stressed that theirs was the local team that people should come and support.
“We are your boys, your team,” he said.
Both pilots went to Northwood Boys’ High School and said they had both “grown up” at the airfield, helping out and doing odd jobs as children, and then progressing to becoming pilots.
Leusch, 30, is a big name in the model plane world – he was selected for the world championship and still competes nationally – and realised his dream to pilot real planes.
Deare, 46, started flying at 21, and has spent years formation flying as a sport.
They met in a model aeroplane shop and “one thing led to another” and they decided to form their own aerobatics team.
They say that each partner brings something different to the team, with Leusch bringing his aerobatics skills and Deare his formation experience.
“We complement each other: that’s the strength of the team,” said Leusch, who is now teaching Deare’s son, Christian, 12, how to fly model planes.
“We are a high energy aerobatics formation team, the only one in KZN,” Deare said.
They have been tutored by Stuart Low, who will be leading the Yak formation team at the airshow. “He is our master. He has got us to where we are now,” said Leusch.
Their planes are Czech-made Zlin 50’s, which are agile, extreme competition planes which are built for the job and have won many world aerobatic titles.