Mark Sampson – Team Xtreme (ZA)

Formation Aerobatic ChampionshipsGrowing up I had aircraft models & control-line planes, but it was not until age 17 that I became interested in aircraft and  thought  it would be super cool to fly military helicopters & jets. A typical schoolboy dream. Not knowing much about military life I applied for the South African Airforce (SAAF).

While  waiting for the SAAF to resume pilot training I did my PPL and realised that GA flying wasn’t enough. I needed to fly something more exciting, and I needed to be  pushed harder.

At age 24  I was  accepted by the SAAF for pilot course. I trained on the T6 Harvard and went on to fly Alouette & Super Puma helicopters in land  & sea roles for 6 years. The best  decision I ever  made!

Airforce budget cuts and down-scaling resulted in less & less flying. I wanted the best  aviation career possible, so I switched lanes and joined the airlines where I learnt to fly the DC9, MD80, B737-200, B747-400, B777  and eventually became a B747  captain after 15 years of airline flying.

Long nights spent  monitoring an autopilot led me to aerobatics in 2006 when I did an Extra 300 course with advanced spin training.  The seed was  planted! I soon met Mark Hensman who offered me a share in a new MX2 and  began coaching me through to unlimited  class aerobatics.

My passion for aerobatics has  consumed my life for the past 8 years while training for competitions and more  recently formation aerobatics. Like Gary Players says, ‘the harder you practice the luckier you get’. You never  stop  learning while training for that perfect flight!

Being on a team, representing your  country and sharing your passion with your friends is what makes flying aerobatics so special. 

Formation Aerobatic Championships