German pilot makes history with S–Bach solo flight

Lynne Gadd–Claxton

A SOLO aerobatics display by the S-Bach from Germany was a major drawcard at last weekend’s air show at the Algoa Flying Club at the Port Elizabeth International Airport.

It was the first time the S-Bach and its pilot, Philipp Steinbach, were seen in the skies of South Africa or even Africa.

This unusual craft was designed by Steinbach himself.

The champion pilot, who is known for his amazing stunts, left South Africa on Thursday for his home country.

He said he started flying gliders when he was 14 years old, and to date has flown about 60 different types of aircraft.

“I have had an interest in airplanes all my life,” Steinbach told MyWeekend.

The father of two is employed as a project engineer, test and display pilot, certification and salesman at XtremeAir.

Steinbach and a team of XtremeAir employees built the S-Bach together.

“I hold a commercial licence but only so that I can keep my test pilot licence,” he said.

Steinbach has won numerous competitions and flown in air shows all over the world – usually showing no emotion.

“When I am up in the sky I think about not making mistakes and I think about staying alive,” he said.

“I also think about the next step and a plan of action if things do go wrong.

“There is not a lot of room for emotions. If you get emotional then you will make mistakes.”

Freestyle aerobatics event Haute Voltige, champions Klaus Schrodt and Peter Besenyei and aircraft manufacturer Walter Extra were Steinbach’s inspiration in building his own aircraft.

Schrodt and a member of the German National Aerobatics Team, Ludwig Hofmann, assisted Steinbach in his stunt training.

While he was in South Africa, Steinbach saw XtremeAir clients and even managed to train some pilots in flying the S-Bach.

His two young children, Sophie, 2, and Leon, 8, also came to South Africa with him and the family enjoyed Port Elizabeth’s hospitality very much, he said.

“We visited the Addo Elephant National Park on Tuesday and Seaview on Wednesday.

“We enjoyed the air show and it was a lot of fun to spend time with friends here,” he said.

“I had such a lot of positive feedback from people here in Port Elizabeth and will make a plan to come back next year.

“I really want to come to next year’s air show.”

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