By Garth Calitz

On Saturday 1st of February the South African Air Force celebrated their ninety-fourth birthday. The SAAF was established in 1920, making it the second oldest Air Force in the world second only to the Royal Air Force of Great Britain.

The Gymnasium new recruits

The Chief of the Air Force Lieutenant General F.Z. Msimang was the revue officer for the well-attended parade held at Air Force Base Waterkloof. The 2014 Air Force Day parade marked a turning point in the annual celebrations. This year for the first time in the history of the SAAF the parade was incorporated with the “passing out” parade of 52 of the youngest SAAF recruits who had completed their basic military training at The Air Force Gymnasium, Boston near Hoedspruit.

The Air Force Band in their new uniforms

The Wing marched on to the parade ground in perfect time accompanied by the Air Force Band who looked fabulous in their new ceremonial dress. The day was the first time that their ceremonial uniforms were on show to the public.

A member of the SAAF's elite Golden Eagles Sky Diving Team

The Golden Eagles sky diving team exited a Cessna Grand Caravan and delivered a flawless display of their skill, as the parade took position to welcome the revue officer. An Oryx and two Agusta A109 helicopters flying the National and SAAF flags performed the Salute flight as Lt Gen Msimang arrived at the podium.

General Msimang on the podium during the fly-past

A Oryx and two Augusta's performed the fly-past

The reading South African Defence Force Code of Conduct, to which all uniformed members of the subject, was followed by a declaration on behalf of all the new recruits read by Airman Mncube, a representative of Class 02/2013.

Airman Mncube

Col Makalima, the newly appointed Chaplin of the SAAF, opened the proceedings with a scripture reading and prayer. Next on the podium was Colonel Moonsamy the Officer Commanding AF Gymnasium. Colonel Moonsamy praised the new recruits for their dedication and enthusiasm during the 21 weeks of basic training and wished them well for their future as fully fledged members of the SAAF.

Colonel Makalima Chaplin of the SAAF

Colonel Moonsamy the Officer Commanding AF Gymnasium

Lt Gen Msimang Inspected the Parade the members of which were a cross-section of the SAAF personnel from senior officers and warrant officers to non commissioned officers and airmen. The “Colours Squadron” carrying the colours of all the active squadrons in the SAAF led the parade in a march past the podium and the salute was acknowledged by Lt Gen Msimang.

Airman Matabane received the award for the Best Overall Recruit and was presented with the floating trophy by the Chief of the Air Force. The awards for fittest Male and Female recruits were also made.

Airman Matabane received the award for the Best Overall Recruit

Brig General van Heerden, Commanding Air Force Base Makhado, was awarded the Prestige Award for top Air Force Base of the year 2013. Air Force base Makhado, based in the small town of Louis Trichardt, is home to the famous 2 Squadron “Flying Cheetahs” operating SAAB Gripen's and 85 Combat Flying School who utilise the BAE Hawks in an advanced fighter training role.

Brig General van Heerden, Commanding Air Force Base Makhado

In his address, Lt Gen Msimang congratulated all the new recruits and thanked them for “answering the Nation's Call” by choosing a career in the SAAF. “Rejuvenatsation of the Reserve Force” is high on the agenda for 2014 with the roll-out of the University Reserve Training Program and removing all obstacles that are keeping reserve force squadrons grounded. The Chief also commended all the members that are and were deployed in peace keeping missions throughout Africa with special mention to the successes achieved by the “Pride of the SAAF” - the Roovalk attack helicopter, which was operationally deployed for the first time ever in the DRC to great success. A commitment was made to concentrate on the following areas in 2014.

· Building capacity in every respect
· Restructuring of the South African Air Force
· SAAF transformation agenda
· Career planning
· Youth development, Siyadiza & SAAF cadet program
· Building reserve force capability in all mustering and support Reserve Force Flying Squadrons.

Gen Msimang congratulated the winners of all the Prestige Awards and thank them for their commitment and dedication to the SAAF. A special thank you went to Brig Gen Delport and his team for planning and ensuring the success of the 94th birthday celebration of the SAAF. The address was concluded with a message to all the members of the SAAF

“Thank you all, for your outstanding contribution to our Air Force and the Nation, ours is to serve with Discipline, Dignity, Professionalism and Patriotism.”

The parade was concluded by a “drill exhibition” by a flight from the newly graduated BMT students accompanied by the SAAF Band. This was followed by a pyrotechnics display after which all the invited guests were the invited to enjoy dinner.

SA Air Force

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