Dustin Hughes flies for his departed Dad

Van Zyl Schultz

For Dustin Hughes, flying has always been part of his life. His father Charles Hughes, a well-known businessman in Heidelberg, was a lifelong member of the Heidelberg Aviation Association.  From a young age the son of this steel mogul in Heidelberg spent most of his spare time with dad at the airfield.  

Dustin with Dad Charles in the backseat

Dustin got his pilot licence in 2004 and started taking part in navigation rallies with his dad, Charles.  The Hughes team became a formidable advisory in the air with several successful competitions.

In 2006 Charles bought a Nanchang CJ6A aeroplane.  This easy-to-fly oriental trainer gave Dustin the edge to start practicing his aerobatic skills.

Later, when he and a partner secured the purchase of a Yak55 Russian Aerobatic plane, Dustin’s aerobatic pilot skills really took off.  

His dream was to enter the national championships and for this the practice was relentless.  Long hours in the air with a spotter on the ground is the key to success, says Dustin.  The maneuvers of aerial aerobatics could be compared to doing gymnastics on a canoe while going down a river, he added.

The maneuvers of aerial aerobatics could be compared to doing gymnastics on a canoe while going down a river

When Dustin Hughes’s co-pilot, Father Charles passed away in May 2021 and with the Phalaborwa championships around the corner, he was more determent than ever before, to participate and to do well.

The winter air around Heidelberg was filled with the sound of 360 horsepower, released by the Yak55 as Dustin practiced on end, to perfect his maneuvers. 

Dustin Hughes flying low level during the Phalaborwa National Championships – 22 August 2021
photo credit to flightlineweekly.com

It is therefore no surprise that the inspiration of his father and his passion for flying secured him 1st place at the Phalaborwa National Championships on 22 August 2021, in the intermediate class.  He attributes this achievement to his team and his dearly departed dad, Charles Hughes. 

Dustin with his partner, Debbie Van De Merwe at the prize giving ceremony

The SuikerbosRant salutes you Dustin and wishes you many safe and exciting hours upside down, or in a loop.

Good luck!