All our pilots highly experienced and are in full time employment in the aviation industry, and therefore only fly for the team on a part time basis.
Because of this, we have a pool of several pilots in the team, with in excess of 60,000 hours among them. They all of have aviation in their blood and are amongst “the best of the best” in the sport of aerobatics in South Africa and we are proud of each and every one of them.
Dennis Spence: Team Owner and Leader
One of the modern day pioneers of airshow display flying in South Africa, Dennis is a South African Airways Airbus A340 Senior Captain (retired) with in excess of 26000 flying hours, of which over 3500 is on the Pitts Special alone. He has been the owner and operator of the Team since 1985, and represented South Africa in the first Advanced World aerobatic championships in 1995, obtaining South African National colours. Although technically retired from the airline business, with his passionate involvement in the aviation sector, he still works as an airline training captain, plowing back his wealth of experience into the airline industry.
Gareth Gill: Wingman
Gareth started his career in aviation in 2001 and has since amassed more than 8500 hours with 1500 hours flying taildraggers like the Pitts S2B. He started flying professionally for Pick n Pay on the King Air 200, progressing onto the Learjet 45 and finally onto the Bombardier Challenger 300/ 350, which he has flown for the past 12 years. He is also a grade II flight instructor, instructing mostly on corporate aircraft and taildraggers.
“I have been fortunate enough to have a number of great aviation mentors involved in my career and recreational flying. The first one was the team’s owner, Dennis Spence. I started off with the team in 2003 as the team’s skivvy – pushing the Pitts around, fueling them, loading smoke oil, strapping in passengers and assisting in keeping the aircraft clean and airworthy. So, it is a real honour for me now to be a part of the team as a pilot.”
Jason Beamish: Wingman
Jason has been involved in flying most of his life. He had his first flying lesson at the age of 9 in the family Piper J3 Cub and went solo on his 17th Birthday. Jason worked with Pilatus Centre Southern Africa for 7 years before joining Absolute Aviation Group as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer in 2015.
Jason started competition aerobatics in 2007 in the Extra 300 and then air shows in 2009 on DH Chipmunks, Extra 300′s and Yak 52′s. In addition to flying our Pitts Specials, he also flies numerous other aircraft on the South African airshow circuit. Jason is multi-engine rated, turbine rated and has a test pilot class 2 rating. He is a SACAA licenced aircraft engineer and FAA A&P IA Certified.
Johan Von Solms: Reserve / Wingman
With over 13500 flying hours, ‘Solly’ served in the South African Air Force as a fighter Pilot flying the Aermacchi MB-326(Impala) and the Cheetah. He was the 8 Squadron Impala display pilot in 1993 and a 2 Squadron Cheetah display pilot during 1995 and 1996. He is currently a captain on the Boeing 737 at FlySafair.
Nigel Hopkins: Reserve/ Wingman
Nigel holds an Airline Transport Pilots License with 16000 flying hours. Nigel also holds a Grade one flying Instructors rating and is a South African CAA designated Flight Examiner, and instructs and examines aerobatics. He has flown 123 different aircraft types and holds a South African CAA test Pilot rating.
A twice South African National Aerobatic Champion, he holds multiple other aviation awards including being seven times South African National Rally Flying Champion, and a record three Aeroclub of South Africa Pilot of the year awards.
Graham has 26 years skydiving experience with his first jump in 1987 in the town of Klerksdorp South Africa. He has over 6600 skydives and has skydived over 5 continents and in more than 40 of the World’s Countries in various World Competitions and skydiving events. Some ratings held include Accelerated Freefall Instructor, Tandem Instructor, Professional Exhibition Rating, Jumpmaster and Coach Ratings in several Skydiving Disciplines. He is Chief Instructor and Drop Zone Operator at two major South African Dropzones as well as running Africa’s leading Aerial Entertainment Company – AerialFX . Graham’s skydiving highlights include the then World’s largest skydiving formation of 216 jumpers in Bratislava Slovakia in 1994, representing South Africa in 2 World Skydiving Championships and holds 32 South African National Titles in skydiving. Other highlights include display jumps for the Inauguration of several South African Presidents including Nelson Mandela, display jumps at many of the World’s largest sporting events such as the Rugby and football World Cups and many major Airshows throughout Africa and Worldwide. Graham led the Skydiving Team for The Goodyear Eagles pioneering the signature inverted skydive sequence which formed part of the world unique three aircraft inverted exit skydive first performed at the Al Ain Airshow in 2010.
At the age of 16 Amy, who hails from Port Elizabeth, started skydiving at EP Skydivers in Grahamstown, South Africa. Since then she has done over 700 skydives and 400 base jumps in more than 20 countries around the world. Her favourite sport is big wall wing suit base jumping which has taken her to countries like Norway, Switzerland and Italy.
Professionally, Amy holds an Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence with 3,700 hours. She works with South African aviation service provider Air-Tec as a contract pilot for humanitarian organisations around Africa. Her work in this field has lead her to countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Sudan and Ethiopia. Amy has a passion for travel, and the unique locations and people her sport and professional life lead her to encounter.