The South African Air Force Association - 75th Anniversary

By Philip Weyers

SAAFA is an all-ranks Association formed 75 years ago, knowing no distinction of race, gender, rank, language or creed, to perpetuate a tradition of comradeship which has developed over the years among members of the South African Air Force.

The objectives in 1945 were then as they are now;
· Camaraderie among past and present members of the SAAF and other friendly Air Forces
· To provide assistance to past SAAF members
· To remember those who did not return
· To provide support to the SAAF

Colonel Rod Douglas, the father of SAAFA, had experienced the aftermath of WW I with the plight of the widows, children and demobilised airmen and resolved that this would not happen again.

The first SAAFA meeting was held on 26 January 1945, which date is recognised as the founding date of the Association.

SAAFA Branches exist in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East Rand, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Lower South Coast, Lowveld, Outeniqua, Port Alfred, Port Elizabeth, Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria, Soutpansberg (Makhado), Stilfontein, Whale Coast (Hermanus) and Weskus as well as a satellite Branch in Dubai, UAE.

SAAFA Patrons at SAAFA 75 Celebration: Col Basil Hersov, Lt Gen Mike Muller, CAF Lt Gen Zakes Msimang, Lt Gen Willem Hechter - 26 January 2020

Close links are maintained with the South African Korean War Veterans Association, the Royal Air Forces Association, the Royal Air Force Officers' Club, the Warsaw Flights Commemoration Organising Committee, the Alpine 44 Club, the Council of Military Veterans Organisations (CMVO) and the Military Attaché and Adviser Corps.

The children of many SAAF members who made the supreme sacrifice in WWII had their schooling made possible with financial aid from SAAFA. With the passage of time, the emphasis has shifted to provision of assistance and support to past members of the SAAF who suffer from chronic and debilitating health issues as well those suffering financial hardship. SAAFA has an ongoing care of the aged project nationwide.

Together with the South African Legion improvements in war pensions for ex-SAAF members and their dependents was secured. Applications for tax exemptions for special flying allowances were negotiated as were many other issues due to SAAFA lobbying with Government, Provinces and various organisations.

Astra House flats in Johannesburg

At the end of WWII in 1945 remaining Air Force Fund revenues were distributed to SAAFA Branches. Air Force Housing Memorial flats were built in Pretoria, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Past members of the SAAF and often their surviving spouses, occupy flats at sub-economic rentals. Flats in Pretoria and Johannesburg continue to offer this service.

Air Force Memorial on Bays' Hill

Resulting from a proposal by the SAAF Association, the first Air Force Memorial was built at the entrance to the Waterkloof Air Force Station in 1957. The site subsequently proved unsuitable and again the SAAF Association proposed that a national Air Force Memorial be built, agreeing to cover half the overall costs. The magnificent Air Force Memorial as we know it today was completed in 1963 on Bays' Hill, overlooking AFB Swartkop. SAAFA and the SAAF jointly host Memorial Services at the Air Force Memorial in May each year.

It was at the suggestion of SAAFA that SAAF Citizen Force Squadrons were established at Cape Town, Durban, Germiston, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria.

SAAF/SAAFA Celebrating SAAFA 75 - Inanda Club, 26 January 2020

The support of and relationship with the South African Air Force remains today a crucial objective of SAAFA.

Today the South African Air Force Association continues the legacy of supporting ex-SAAF aged and needy; remembering SAAF men and women killed in the line of duty; fostering Air Force camaraderie and our Air Force heritage and continuing dynamic SAAF/SAAFA interaction.

SAAFA "Thirstday" gathering at AFB Swartkop

Membership is open to any person who is, or was, a member of the South African Air Force, or of a friendly foreign Air Force.

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