SAAF Prestige Parade 2023 and SAAF Museum Flying Day Feb 2023

By Russell Dixon-Paver


South African Air Force Prestige Parade, Friday 27 January.

The SA Air Force traditionally celebrates it's “birthday” at the end of January each year and 2023 marks 103 years, 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.

Weather was clear with very little wind which made for a very hot day.

Fixed wing aircraft participating in the flypast had re-positioned to AFB Waterkloof, with the helicopter formation settling in Snake Valley.

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, while the Chief of the SA Air Force Lt Gen Wiseman Mbambo took the general salute.

Augusta 109 flag-bearers and cannon salute.

Senior officers on the dais and assembled guests.

Lt General Mambo and his party inspected the SAAF units on parade and took the salute.

As is customary military parade protocol, there were the normal marchpasts of SAAF units on parade, with their colours proudly displayed. The Chief of the Airforce took the salute as each column marched past the dais

Inspection party and parade salute, with Lt Gen Mbambo taking the salute.

To commence the flypast, the 9-ship helicopter formation rose out of Snake Valley and commenced the flypast of aircraft over the parade. These helicopters were drawn from various squadrons including the SAAF Museum Historic Flight and 17 Squadron, based at AFB Swartkop. The Rooivalk helicopter unfortunately had to withdraw from the formation due to a technical issue, which could not be resolved in time.

Helicopter formation led the flypast showing static displays behind the parade and the iconic AFB Swartkop tower.

The SAAF Museum Historic Flight C185, Bosbok and two Harvards were the next formation in the flypast.

The Silver Falcons from AFB Langebaanweg Central Flying School flew past with smoke trailing.

Three Hawk Mk 120's from 85 Combat School were the final formation in the parade flypast.

Various awards had been made at the Prestige Evening, the previous evening, but the unit of the SA Air Force for the year had yet to be announced. There were three units nominated as contenders: AFB Langebaanweg, AFB Overberg and AFB Bloemspruit.

Beginning his speech, the Chief of the Airforce reflected on 103 years of SAAF history and was to look at current situation and challenges and then look to the future. He announced AFB Overberg as the winning unit of the year, to a fanfare from the Air Force Band. The trophy was presented to the Officer Commanding of AFB Overberg. The Chief said the Air Force had to “grow its own timber” and the prestige awards were part of acknowledging achievements of members in various bases and units.

Lt Gen. Mambo then continued with his speech. A quantum leap of thinking was required to work more effectively with shrinking resources. SAAF members at all levels were encouraged to challenge the status quo to embrace opportunities for improvement that technology adoption could offer. The SAAF was to move to paperless administration and to use technology to respond more quickly. Communication speed and effectiveness is to be improved by use of technology. The concept of “total wellness” for members of the SAAF was introduced and progress on this would be announced during the coming year. In house capability developments were to be accelerated and some of these would be unveiled by the end of 2023. Transcripts of his speech

The Air Force Band does a left wheel as they prepare to pass the dias for the final salute.

A short solo flight capability demonstration was provided by a Hawk Mk120 from 85 Combat flying School.

85 Combat School solo Hawk capability display.

500 Squadron provided a demonstration of their various capabilities to end off the formal parade proceedings.

500 Squadron extract VIP's from a situation and their dogs are used to control a crowd.

Lt. General Mambo held a mini media briefing in the old WAAF Mess conference room. A question on the budget situation was raised, to which the answer was that processes and engagements were being held to progress the initiatives like of sweating assets and generation of own revenue. These were generally positively met, giving energy to proceed. Getting Gripens operational required various actions, as the contract had already been concluded. The aim is to have ultimately 13 Gripens operational. Timelines would be communicated as action items were firmed up. SAAF was to be fully involved in Armed Forces event in Richards Bay. Involvement with international air forces in test and development was planned to be re-established in future. C130H situation - Medium lift is centre of attention and strategic lift is also important because of our geographic situation. National Treasury positiveness towards this is heartening. The Museum Airshow is seen as vital to maintaining capability between AAD events and while there are many challenges, they are not insurmountable. Priority would be given to force preparation due to resource limitations and when this had progressed sufficiently, the Air Capability Demonstration at Roodewal would be re-considered. Lt. Gen. Mbambo emphasised that communication from the Air Force would be different going forward.

Lt. Gen. Wiseman Mbambo addressing the media.

Thanks to the SAAF for putting on a well-run event to commemorate such an important milestone in the History of South Africa.

SA Air Force Museum Flying Day, Saturday 28 January.

This was originally scheduled for 4th February, but moved forward to 28th Jan to be in line with the Prestige Parade, so it is actually the February flying day.

The most first Saturdays of each month (when serviceability, major sports events and weather permit!) see the SAAF Museum exercising the flyable aircraft and keeping pilots and aircrew current on the various aircraft 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!

While not on the formal program for the day, the Silver Falcons made a surprise “smoke on” flyover as they departed AFB Waterkloof to return to AFB Langebaanweg.

Silver Falcons in their Astras, fly over.

Friends of SAAF Museum were on hand with refreshments and their delicious wors-rolls to start the day. The braai-team hard at work, making sure the wors is done to perfection.

Harvard Club of SA had an aircraft on static display to provide the public with close-up views and inspire young folks.

The various Museum hangars were open for people to get themselves immersed in the history of aviation.

The Buccaneer 421 restoration team had their memorabilia and books for sale to support their project in Hangar 3 and also provided access to the Buccaneer “driver's” seat.

Some of the other exhibits on display in Hangar 3.

Some of the exhibits on display in Hangar 1 - Sikorsky H-51 (1948!), some engines, the Patterson biplane replica and a Mirage III BZ.

Some of the exhibits on display in Hangar 2 - Mirage F1CZ, Sabre in restoration by the Friends of the Museum and the Satellite Launch vehicle from Houwteq.

Harvard #7111 with Col Martin “Marlow” Louw and Maj Mpama taxi out and take off.

C185 #748 takeoff with Col Darryl “Dingo” Wright and Capt Ryan Mitton.

Puma #175 runs up after start with Flt Sgt Herman Groenewald doing some final checks with Gen Piet “Patriot” Burger and Maj Mynhardt “Haxor” Traut at the controls and Col Basie “Flying Logie” Jansen as FE, then the taxi out and stir up some grass as the collective thrust heaves the Puma into the air.

Col Dave “Decibel” Keijer “wearing” Alouette II #15.

Maj Mike “Biggles” Church does some initial pre-flight checks on Alouette III #628, while WO Sarel Beukes demonstrates the classic FE pose.

Capt Carl “Ajax” Bolweg and Lt Richard “Omega” Dixon lift off with C185 #748 for some currency exercises.

Col Ruan “Hacker” Potgieter closes off his sortie in Bosbok #920 with Maj Mahlangu, with a final pass “down sun” specially for the photographers to have better lighting.

Maj Mike “Biggles” Church engrossed in run-up checks while Gen Piet “Patriot” Burger looks on in Puma #175, and Flt Sgt Herman Groenewald as FE, present but not visible in picture.

Col Billy “Atilla” Port lines up Alouette II #15 for landing

Alouette III #628 taxis in for shutdown with Col Dave “Decibel” Keijer and Col Basie “Flying Logie” Jansen.

The next SAAF Museum Flying Training Day will be on 4th March 2023.

Provisional date for the SAAF Museum Swartkop air show is 6th May 2023. We trust that all the necessary pre-requisites will be met for this event to go ahead.

A great Museum training day, as always! There was an excellent public attendance, despite it being a very hot day, showing that there is good public interest and promoting the SA Air Force and Museum.

Events 2023

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