The South African Air Force Museum hosted the first Flying Training day for 2014 on Saturday 8 February, which was also the first one in three months. The December Flying day had to be cancelled due to the funeral arrangements for the late President Nelson Mandela.
At the early morning safety briefing it was still unclear if there would be any flying as the weather was not playing ball. Fortunately, as if on cue, low cloud started to dissipate and the first of many visiting aircraft were able to make their way in. The public turnout was not as great as expected probably due to the cloudy and cool conditions.
Colonel Glen Warden in the Harvard "Inkwazi"
Colonel Glen Warden, a reserve force member, got airborne to kick of the flying program in "Inkwazi" one of the three Museum Harvards that graced the skies. The flying team at the Museum is made up predominantly of reserve force members, although there are a handful of active SAAF pilots that also have a passion for the preservation of our aviation heritage.
The Chipmunk and Stampe formation flew in from Springs Airfield
Over the years the SAAF Museum flying days have become very popular in Pretoria and have increasingly become a fly-in destination for war bird owners from all over Gauteng and further afield. February's flying day saw eight visiting aircraft of the initial twenty that were planned, unfortunately the bad weather kept many from attending. Gavin Brown accompanied by his son Steve, Ivan van der Schaar and Kim Pratley treated all present to a beautiful formation fly past in his two immaculately restored de Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunks and the Belgian WWII Stampe SV.4.
Sud Aviation Gazelle
Aerospatiale Alouette II
Aerospatiale Alouette III
Hugo Visser and Rob Oshner swelled the rotor-wing ranks with their stunning Aerospatiale Alouette III and Alouette II respectively. Eugene Couzyn brought his Sud Aviation Gazelle that looks fabulous in its original "armee de TERRE" colour scheme. Two Aermacchi AM-3 Bosbok's from the ever increasing Johan Lok stable made up the contingent of civilian aircraft.
All the SAAF Museum helicopter pilots brushed up on their Corgo slinging and hoisting skills in preparation for the SAAF chopper competition, which is due to be held later this year at AFB Zwartkop. The Chopper competition is a biennial competition, where members from all the SAAF helicopter squadrons take part in various events designed to test the skill level of top "chopper jocks" and is normally concluded by a reunion of past and present chopper pilots and crew.
The SAAF Museum use the flying days as a method of thanking members of the public, that have been of assistance to them, by treating them to a flip in one of the Museum's aircraft. The SAAF Museum Historic Flight or 200 Squadron, as it is also known has the largest and most diverse selection of aircraft operated by one unit in the SAAF at present. Considering they manage this with a very small dedicated staff compliment and on a very limited budget shows the absolute commitment to the preservation of the SAAF heritage.
The Museum currently operates two Alouette II's, two Alouette III's and a Puma helicopters. The large compliment of fixed aircraft comprises of the "one of a kind" Patchen Explorer, a Bosbok, a Kudu, a Vampire T55, a Piaggio P.166 Albetros and six North American T6 Harvard's.
Harvard and Bosbok
Vampire and Alouette III
The "monthly pilgrimage" to the museum is made by many retired Generals every month, Gen Earp and Gen Thackawry and Gen Khumalo joined the public for a hearty breakfast at "The Windsock Cafe" and day full of exciting flying. Members of the Military Collectors & Re-enactment Society add to the authentic feel of the day by arriving in a various period uniforms raging from WWI to the Vietnam War or Indo China War as it was known by the French forces. The MCRS are willing to help anyone who is interested in joining, with putting together an authentic uniform and even have their own tailor individually custom make uniforms.
Members of the MCRS
The next Museum Flying day will be held on the 1st of March, if you love historic aircraft diarise the date and make your way there, you will not be sorry.