Durban 19032014 Plane over North Beach Picture: Jacques Naude

Durban’s long weekend gets off to a flying start today with the first Land, Sea and Air festival.

The event at North Beach will feature top aerobatic pilots performing aerial manoeuvres and racing over the ocean.

Planes will be pushed to the extreme as they blitz through multi-storey pylons placed on the beachfront piers.

Festival organiser Brian Emmenis said: “The Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics alone will feature world champion pilots who compete against each other regularly on the international air show stage. It’s going to be electric.”

Pilots competing in the Sky Grand Prix have been practising routines this week.

The Silver Falcons - the display team of the South African Air Force - and the Gripen fighter jet are part of the line-up.

Festival-goers will also be treated to displays by the navy and police, including the navy’s brass band and a submarine demonstration.

Live music, air-themed movies and other land activities will keep the crowds going well into the night.

The show starts at 9am each day and entry is free.

* Grandstand seating is limited (almost sold out) so bring folding chairs or blankets to sit on.

* There are no special parking areas - beach roads will be monitored by Metro Police.

* North Beach and Dairy Beach will be closed for swimming and surfing.

* Sunday is a weather day, reserved in case of bad weather Friday or Saturday.

The Mercury