Youth Aviation Career Expo Hosted at SAAF Swartkops 6 May 2016
By Cheryl Smit
More than 5000 Grade 10 to 12 school pupils arrived in busloads to attend the Youth Aviation Career Expo hosted at SAAF Swartkops on Friday 6 May. On arrival each of the pupils were provided with a Goodie Bag sponsored by Denel which contained a fruit juice, water and some nibbles to eat.
The pupils were divided into manageable groups and taken on a guided tour through the Museum's various hangars. South African Airways mobile simulator unit provided the pupils an opportunity to experience an on-board experience where they were briefed on the various career choices that were available to them within SAA.
Thereafter a selected few were given the opportunity of a lifetime to a flight in 'Little Annie' the Antonov AN-2.
Airshow, Saturday 7 May
Juri Keyter and Willie Bodenstein
Sponsored by the Paramount Group and attracting some 30,000 visitors the annual SAAF Museum airshow was held in glorious weather at AFB Zwartkop the oldest active military base in the world.
The Museum staff pulled out all the stops to make the airshow a success and as in the past the number and variety of acts did not disappoint. However, the illogical process of accrediting vendors, cleaning staff, exhibitors, media and all involved in making the show a pleasant experience for the spectators seriously needs to be addressed. Although the accreditation office was open for four days it still took most involved, and that includes SAAF members, as long as three hours to be processed! Getting into the base for spectators was a nightmare. Most visitors, even those that bought tickets on line, queued for more than two hours.
Once inside though the layout was superb with was more than enough outlets catering to the needs of all whilst the grounds were constantly cleaned. Although there was frequently long a gaps between displays the quality of the displays made of for it.
The airshow that serves as a showcase for the Museums assets is also a major source of revenue that enables the Museum to continue to operate. All of the Museums current airworthy aircraft were displayed during the show as well as some of the SAAF's assets. Ex-military aircraft in private hands and civilian aerobatic and formation pilots and teams rounded off the show.
Civilian Aerobatics and Formation Displays
The base underwent a number of changes since the 2015 show. Upgrading of the roads and under infrastructure is still ongoing which did contribute to the problems experienced on Saturday. Lt Col. O'Conner, the previous officer commanding was transferred and his place was taken by Lt. Col. Fredericks only a few weeks before the show.
Capital Sound was back this year with specialist commentators and music that did not interfere with the sounds of aircraft engines. Brian Emmenis's banter however was missed.
Because of the number of acts the Museum airshow will always be a strong contender as far the Airshow of the Year Awards are concerned. How the show will fare in remains to be seen.