South African Air Force Prestige Parade
The SA Air Force traditionally celebrates its "birthday" at the end of January each year, and 2020 is a special year, with the SAAF having been formed in 1920. It is well known that General Smuts was instrumental in the formation of the Royal Air Force and he instructed Sir Pierre van Ryneveld to form the Air Force of the Union of South Africa. The theme for 2020 is "celebrating our collective heritage".
During the early part of the morning various aircraft normally based at AFB Swartkop, and some visiting squadrons repositioned to AFB Waterkloof - fixed wings, and Snake Valley - Helicopters. Harvards of the SAAF Museum and Harvard Club of SA (also based at AFB Swartkop), the SAAF Vampire and a Lynx helicopter taking off to reposition...
Weather was clear with very little wind which made for a very hot day and the parade commander brought the parade to attention and back to at ease twice during the Chief of Ari Force's speech to provide some relief.
Smoke grenades were fired for the 29 parachutist's guidance as the exited from two 44 Squadron Casa 212's.
Special Forces parachutists made a grand entrance, with one of the members making the debut with the huge National flag weighting in at 80kg.
The SAAF Prestige Parade started with a bang as the Augusta helicopters bearing the National and Air Force flags flew past and the artillery salute firing commenced.
Lt General Msimang inspected the SAAF units on parade and is seen here exchanging salutes with the leader of the Air Force Band, which provided appropriate music for the parade proceedings.
21 Helicopters rose in spectacular fashion out of Snake Valley and commenced the flypast of aircraft over the parade. These helicopters were drawn from squadrons across the country and the SAAF Museum and 17 Squadron, based at AFB Swartkop. A guest from the UK was most impressed by this and mentioned that they did not generally have such major flypasts of rotor-winged aircraft at their events.
The SAAF Museum C185 and Kudu were the next formation in the flypast.
SAAF Museum and the Harvard Club of SA provided a rousing flypast that stirred up some memories. These aircraft were used during WWII for pilot training all over the world and large numbers are still airworthy and flying in countless countries.
Light transport squadrons 35 with the Turbo Dak, 41 with three Caravan C208's and 44 with two Casa 212's were represented in the next formation.
The pride of the SA Air Force was up next with a formation of eight aircraft - four Gripens from 2 Squadron and four Hawk Mk 120's from 85 Combat School.
21 Squadron provided the grand finale of the flypasts with the BBJ Inkwazi and a Falcon, rounded off in formation by the Silver Falcons from AFB Langebaanweg, trailing smoke.
As is customary, there were the normal marchpasts of SAAF units on parade with their colours proudly displayed.
The Prestige unit of the SA Air Force for the year had been announced at the Prestige Awards Evening at AFB Waterkloof and the trophy was presented to AFB Ysterplaat at the Parade.
The Chief of the Air Force then commenced his speech with a warning that it would be longer than last year's Prestige Parade. It was an impressively crafted call to stand together in these difficult times and we were all reminded that this is our Air Force. Hopefully some of the Chief's dreams will be realised. Lt General Msimang is the "21st Air Chief in the pre and post 1994 history of the South Air African Force; and the 5th Air Chief of the South African Air Force in the new dispensation". Transcripts of his speech and video recordings are available in the general media.
The SA Air Force Band members stand at ease during the presentation of the Chief's speech. The backdrop to the Parade was an Augusta helicopter, mobile radar unit and, seen here, Sabre and Mustang aircraft as used by South Africans during their participation in the Korean War in the early 1950's.
As the Parade drew to a close, the Harvards of the SAAF Museum and Harvard Club landed and performed a ceremonial mass shutdown as the SAAF Museum Vampire flew overhead bringing a fitting close to the Prestige Parade and a fitting opening to a year of celebration of a huge milestone for the South African Air Force and general aviation in South Africa.
The 2020 Prestige Parade was open to the public and it is hoped that this will be the norm into the future. Thanks to the SAAF for putting on a excellent event to commemorate such an important milestone in the History of South Africa.
SA Air Force Museum Flying Day
Most Saturdays of each month (when serviceability, Rugby World Cup and weather permit!) sees the SAAF Museum exercising the flyable aircraft and keeping pilots current on the various types. These aircraft are kept flying by the Museum Technical staff based in 14 Hangar. Their serviceability record is something to be really proud of, especially taking into account the small staff complement and limited resources available!
The first Saturday of 2020 on the first of February had the normal flying training program interspersed with visiting aircraft (some of which are seldom seen at Swartkop) providing flypasts as they departed for their home bases, after participating in the Prestige Parade on the Friday.
The Turbo Dak made a few passes on departure - great to see this planform here!
SAAF Museum Puma departs for training sortie over the Air Force Memorial.
The Rooivalk combat helicopter being put through its paces - still an amazing machine, that was way ahead of its time.
SAAF Museum Harvard on a training sortie.
Oryx and Augusta helicopter formation take-off and flypast.
The other Rooivalk on departure.
Silver Falcons provided a short display routine.
C 208 Caravans from 41 Squadron in formation flypasts.
SAAF Museum Puma taxi's in and then turns in various training sorties.
SAAF Museum Alo III transitions from hover to forward flight in a training sortie.
85 Combat Training School Hawk Mk 120 showed its capabilities.
Gripen from 2 Squadron being put through its paces.
SAAF Museum Alo II and III performed a dance routine showing skills of pilots.
SAAF Museum C185 performing touch and goes for training and currency.
A great Museum training day with special attendances from aircraft that were participating in the SAAF Prestige events. There was excellent public attendance, despite a very hot day, showing that there is good public interest and promotion the SA Air Force and Museum.