By Karel Zaayman

The world-renown aviation artist and ex-flight engineer in the South African Air Force, Tiro Vorster, has been honoured by the South African Air Force for his contribution to aviation art and aviation in South Africa.

This acknowledgement of his talent was bestowed on him at an Aviators Evening, hosted by 22 Squadron and the Cape Town Branch of the South African Air Force Museum at Air Force Base Ysterplaat on Thursday 17 October.

Forty-Six oil paintings and other aviation artworks by Tiro were on display in the auditorium at 22 Squadron, whilst his latest artwork “Remember Korea 1953” was unveiled by a former Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Gen Roelf Beukes. The majority of these works of art were never before on display in South Africa. More than 700 people attended the opening of the exhibition which will last for another week.

This is the first time that Tiro Vorster's works had been on display in a solo exhibition in South Africa after having been honoured by the United States Air Force (USAF) in a similar way in 2003. During that exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the Wright Brothers' first flight in Dayton, Ohio, Tiro was one of three international aviation artists who were invited to display alongside their American counterparts. At this occasion, eight of Tiro's massive paintings were on display.

Tiro Vorster is also one of small group of non-American aviation artists who was granted the honour to be a Fellow Member of the American Society of Aviation Artists, an honour which allows him to write ASAA after his name on paintings.

The unveiling of his latest painting, the Korean Sabre, marks another milestone in his aviation art career. It shows that age doesn't matter. Tiro turns 70 in December and has completed four big artworks during the last two years, a SAAB Gripen, commissioned by SAAB for No 2 Squadron SAAF, two English Electric Lightnings and now the Korean Sabre. This painting depicts a No 2 Squadron Sabre in Korea in a hanger at the end of the Korean conflict in 1953. Tiro's meticulous attention to detail can be seen in this painting (as in all his other works).

Tiro Vorster started his career in the SAAF as a flight engineer on Alouette III helicopters (959 flying hours) and later moved on to Shackletons, also as flight engineer (3571 flying hours) until they were withdrawn from service. He spent his last years before retirement at Air Force Headquarters where he was editor of the SAAF's Flying Safety Magazine, Nyala. This was a job that really suited him as he could now live out his love for art and flying by lavishly illustrating flying safety articles with this art. During this period, he was also approached by the Royal Australian Air Force to do three cover paintings for their flying Safety magazine.

Today, Tiro and his supportive wife Hannetjie, are spending their retirement in their beloved Cape where he can't wait to start yet another work of art.

Aviation Personalities

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