Monthly Archives: March 2020

WesBank Botswana International Airshow back in 2021

The organising committee is pleased to announce that the 2021 WesBank Botswana International Airshow will be held on Saturday 29th May, 2021.


This airshow is the 10th planned edition of one of the favourite weekends on the Southern African aviation calendar. Starting with a simple ‘fly day’ in 2012, it has grown into a major Botswana outdoor event, drawing crowds of 15,000 and regularly attracting more than 100
aircraft from neighbouring countries.

From the very start, the airshow has been used as a fund raiser for local charities, with last year’s show raising more than P150,000. The main recipients of these funds have included the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation, the Lady Khama
Charitable Trust, and the Motswedi Rehabilitation Centre for Handicapped Persons.

In addition, various other charities have benefitted through running car parking facilities and shuttle services. The impact on the local community has also been significant, with new guest houses and camp sites springing up, local entrepreneurs being involved in selling various goods on the day, and a massive after-party with local musicians and DJ’s.

We hope that these organisations will again be part of our 2021 airshow.
While our thoughts are with the people of the region as we battle Covid-19, we hope this announcement gives our community and aviation fans something to look forward to.

Boeing Assists with COVID-19 Recovery and Relief Efforts

CHICAGO, March 27, 2020—Boeing continues to support our communities and the heroic healthcare professionals working tirelessly to stop the COVID-19 virus. We’re taking additional steps to support COVID-19 recovery and relief efforts. These include:

  • Boeing will begin using its 3D printing capabilities at several facilities across the United States to manufacture face shields to help protect those who are on the front lines of fighting the virus. Our initial production goal is to produce thousands of face shields per week followed by subsequent production increases. Boeing has additive manufacturing machines in St. Louis, Missouri; El Segundo, California; Mesa, Arizona; Huntsville, Alabama and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that will be used for this initial response, as long as those facilities remain in operation, consistent with federal, state and local health orders and the health and safety of Boeing employees.
  • We have also offered the use of our Dreamlifter, one of the largest cargo carriers in the world, to help transport critical and urgently needed supplies to healthcare professionals. We’re coordinating closely with government officials on how best to provide our support.
  • To date, Boeing has donated tens of thousands of masks, gloves and other equipment to hospitals in need. We’re also analyzing several other ways we can use our engineering, manufacturing and logistics expertise to help the cause.

46 Years Ago-The Atlas C4M Kudu took to the skies!

This past February this year 46 years ago, on 16 February 1974, the prototype Atlas AL60-C4M Kudu flew for the first time. The aircraft was registered ZS-IZF and had the Manufacturers Serial Number 001.

Atlas C4M Kudu Lanseria during the 1970s

It took to the air shortly after 09.30 from Jan Smuts Airport, having been built at the Atlas Aircraft Corporation complex, the home of the fledgling South African Aircraft Industry at the time. The pilot was the Atlas Chief Test Pilot Mr.A.J.(Butch) Bester with the Flight Observer Mr.R.A.J.Steel. The flight lasted an hour and twenty minutes.

Atlas Aircraft Coporation

The aircraft was powered by a 340hp Avco-Lycoming-Piaggio GSO-480-B1B3 piston engine, though this was not the engine of choice for the SAAF. They had requested either a 425hp Lycoming engine or a 435hp Teledyne-Continental engine but altering the aircraft to accept the more powerful engine would have delayed the delivery of the aircraft quite considerably. Turbine engines were not considered, the feeling being that maintenance in the field would be difficult.

The impression also existed that a piston engine was more robust and therefore better suited for military operations. As the programme was already significantly behind schedule, the Chief of the Air Force accepted the specifications of the aircraft without alteration on 21 March 1972.

Although ZS-IZF was the first Kudu to fly, the first aircraft delivered to the Air Force was SAAF Serial 960 which initially flew as ZS-IZG. It was to fulfil the role of Military Prototype. The SAAF acceptance flight of this aircraft took place on 21 August 1974. Its delivery flight to the SAAF took place on 24 February 1975.

Atlas Kudu ZS-IZF
SAAF Kudu ‘994’

The last Kudu handed over to the SAAF was officially recorded as 997 on 31 August 1979. It flew to its new home unit on 4 September 1979. ZS-IZF continued to serve as a developmental aircraft flying with both Atlas Aircraft Corporation and the Test Flight and Development Centre of the SAAF. It was allocated the SAAF serial 999.

Both ZS-IZF and 999 were used in documentation during the 1980s. The registration ZS-IZF was eventually cancelled on 4 November 1985, the aircraft being listed in the CAA records as having been donated to the SAAF.

Atlas Kudu ZU-BSV
SAAF Museum Atlas C4M Kudu

It is interesting to note that although ZS-IZF was the first Kudu to fly, it was the last Kudu to be received by the SAAF.

When the Kudus were withdrawn from SAAF service, 999 was returned to its civilian lifestyle as ZS-WXF, registered as such on 15 October 1991. Years later ZS-WXF was drawn into the Angels Way Trust turboprop conversion programme and proudly flew again for the first time on 22 October 2009 as ZS-WXF Atlas Angel “Gabriel”, the original airframe that flew for the first time today 37 years ago.

Atlas Angel at Sua Pan Botswana 2019
Atlas Angel ZU-BTN

The first of the Atlas Angels to fly however was ZU-BSV “Michael” which took to the skies on 23 May 2009.

Kudu ZS-WWO
Kudu ZS-WYA

Long may Atlas Angels Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Daniel continue spreading their wings for the skydiving fraternity in South Africa with the power plants they always deserved – 726shp Walter M601D Turbines (flat rated to 550shp).

Today as the now Turbine powered Atlas Nagel can been seen at various Skydiving clubs around South Africa.

Airbus secures new face mask supplies to support Europe’s fight against COVID-19

Getafe, 28 March 2020 – Airbus has deployed a new air-bridge flight between Europe and China to deliver additional face mask supplies to France, Germany, Spain and United Kingdom health systems in support of the COVID-19 crisis efforts.

The aircraft, an Airbus A330-200 undergoing conversion as Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), took off on 26 March at 19.15 local time (CET) from Airbus’ Getafe site near Madrid (Spain) reaching the Airbus site in Tianjin (China) on 27 March. The aircraft, operated by an Airbus crew, returned to Spain on 28 March at 04.05 local time (CET) with a cargo of more than 4 million face masks.

In recent days, Airbus had already organised flights from Europe and China with A330-800 and A400M aircraft to donate thousands of face masks to hospitals and public services around Europe.

The picture shows the A330MRTT departing Airbus’ Getafe site on 26 March

Airbus A330MRT

Swiss Air Ambulance Challager 650 Lands at Cape Town International Airport

A lone Swiss Air Ambulance Challager 650 landed at Cape Town International Airport yesterday. The reason is not yet known but some sources indicating a possible medical evacuation of a Swiss National with possible COVID-19 symptoms!

Swiss Air-Rescue is a private, non-profit air rescue service that provides emergency medical assistance in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Rega was established on 27 April 1952 by Dr Rudolf Bucher, who believed the Swiss rescue organization needed a specialized air sub-secti.

The Challenger 650 is the updated version of the Challenger 605. The Challenger 650 features 2 additional executive seats to accommodate up to 12 passengers, upgraded engines offering a higher thrust rate to reduce takeoff field length, and larger appliances in the galley to assist with faster meal preparation.

Hundreds of Swiss travellers remain blocked abroad due to Covid-19 restrictions and cancelled flights. Travel operators and the foreign ministry are working to find ways to get them home. 

“We still have several hundred clients abroad who want to get back to Switzerland. We’re doing our best to find flights for them,” Bianca Gähweiler of Hotelplan Suisse told the Keystone-SDA news agency on Wednesday. 

The travel agent is scrambling to find solutions for clients in locations such as Morocco, South Africa, and Ukraine, where travel bans are in place for people from Switzerland. 

The foreign ministry, meanwhile, has called on Swiss travelling abroad to try to return as soon as possible due to the pandemic, but has reiterated that the costs of flights and other expenses must be borne by individuals. There is no legal basis for an organised repatriation. 

Airbus A400M transports masks to Spain in support of COVID-19 crisis efforts

In these times we all need a bit of good news or a nice feel good story and today we can bring such a story that shows humanity standing together in times of need.

An Airbus A400M airlifter has performed an air-bridge between Toulouse and Madrid in order to deliver critically-needed mask supplies to the Spanish health system.

Airbus A400M

The aircraft, known as MSN56 and operated by an Airbus crew, took off on 23rd March 2020 from Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse at 18.07 local time (CET) landing at the Getafe Air Base (Madrid) at 19.05 to off-load and deliver the masks to the Spanish Ministry of Defence.

Offloading medical Supplies from the Airbus
A400m

The cargo is part of the approximately 2 million masks transported over the weekend by a test Airbus A330-800 aircraft from Tianjin, China, to Europe.

This air-bridge will enable the delivery of a significant supply of masks to the Spanish public health network in support of current COVID-19 crisis efforts. This comes on top of donations by Airbus in recent days to provide thousands of masks to hospitals and public services around Europe. The Company will continue to support with additional flights planned to take place in the coming days in coordination with national authorities.

A bit more on Airbus:

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2019, it generated revenues of € 70 billion and employed a workforce of around 135,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

OG heads for Bloem!

Major Omphile “Biggy” Matloane former leader, soloist and slot pilot for the South African Airforce Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team bids farewell to Central Flying School at Airforce Base Langebaanweg and heads to Airforce Base Bloemspruit to continue instruction on helicopters, his message below as he leaves the team!

Falcons & Gripen
Falcons & Gripen

“Gentlemen, with a bit of luck and sheer guts tomorrow will be my last day as an official member of the Central Flying School. Goodness me, where does the time go ? Change is the only constant and inevitable. It’s been one heck of a tour ! 6 years flew past like nothing! Iv made friends and enemies alike! “

A great team

“But to tell you the truth , to say I’ve made enemies is a waste of the queens language! It doesn’t matter. What matters is the work we’ve all accomplished. I deeply believe when I meet all you after tomorrow, somewhere out there in the bigger saaf it will be a meeting of smiles and laughs.So , after all it’s said, done and dusted all that’s left is gratitude and total humility. I thank you so much for all the years !

Nine PC7MKIIs from Central Flying School Langebaanweg

“50 years from now , my grandkids will hear all the stories of my tour at Central Flying School ‘CFS’. And it will be a fascinating narration. Whatever happened was supposed to happen exactly how it happened. That means I have little to no regrets ! Which puts me at peace.”

Silver Falcons PC7MKIIs

“From the deepest part of my heart I wish you all the very best . Don’t worry much about the current situation! It too shall pass . Very soon the team will be tearing up the South African skies doing loops and barrels! And it will feel like there was never a pause ! Remember to find the joy in it or else it’s futile but remember you are the only team in SA which covers the length and breadth of our landscape. “

The moments not to forget

“Somehow I think the saaf will come out stronger through this crazy unpredictable period the entire world finds itself in . What am I saying? You guys are in the right place to dictate the future. “

Silver Falcons at AAD2018

“Every emotion I felt , every time I was uncertain or certain I was taking the right action, every time I was afraid, or unsure was the right emotion. It all led to this moment. Newcastle airshow 2018 and in hindsight Swartkops airshow 2019 will forever be etched in my blue print.”

Major Omphile Matloane receives his golden wings from Major Sivu Tangana September 2018

“Impossible is man made and not a representation of life . So all thatnis left is to say thank you . In my native tongue it goes like this ‘ ke a leboga. Ke leboga go menagane”

“We take and we give”- Memories of 60 Squadron

60 Squadron SAAF is a squadron of the South African Air Force. It is a transport, aerial refuelling and EW/ELINT squadron. It was first formed at Nairobi in December 1940. During its first years the squadron flew the British Aircraft Double Eagle, Martin Maryland, de Havilland Mosquito, and the Lockheed Ventura.

The South African Airforces 60 Squadron came into existence upon thr renumbering of 62 survey Squadron on 29 December 1940.Completion of the survey around Garissa in Kenya started by its prescessor was the units first priority,then tasking being completed shortly before the BA Double Eagle was grounded for a major overhaul.With Both Ansons the aircraft had on strength were also grounded for maintaince and the need for spares in South Africa at the time.

BA Double Eagle

60 Squadrons lamentable state was to be reminded with the arrival of a third Anson to the Squadron from the Union on 17 January when serial number 1107 touched down in Kenya Nairobi.

Avro Anson

In June 1946 the unit was designated to a Medium Bomber Squadron and re-established at Airforce Station Zwartkop on the 21 August, known today as Airforce Base Swartkop, home to 17 Squadron a helicopter unit and the South African Airforce Museum Heritage Flight.

This was the time the Squadron were operating under the control of number 3 Bomber Wing with Lockheed B-34 Ventura’s on their strength. At least six of the De Havilland Mosquitoes are known to have been passed onto the bombing command.

Lockheed B-34 Ventura
De Havilland Mosquitoe

Tasks under taken included survey work in the Eastern Cape, by a C47 Dakota detachment at Port Alfred in 1949 and a similar exercise in Cape Town during the time’s of the 1950s.

C47 Dakota

The acquisition of three Boeing 707s in March 1982 was the culmination of a ten year project undertaken to provide the SAAF with a dedicated air-to-air refueling and electronic warfare capability and it fell to 60 Squadron to assume the mantle of responsibility for this function when the unit was reformed at Airforce Base Waterkloof in Pretoria on July 16 1986 following the aircraft’s modernisation and modification programme.

Boeing 707

A further two Boeing 707s were subsequently acquired while the task of maintaining the SAAFs electronic warfare and early warning capabilities were added to the units primary responsibility.

Boeing 707

The Squadron provided highly effective ‘force multiplayer’ to 1 Squadron Mirage F1AZs until the F1AZ retirement in in November 1997.The squadron was still a vital asset to 2 Squadrons Cheetah C and D variants until 60 Squadron was disbanded and the retirement of the 707 from SAAF use in 2007.

2 Squadron Cheetah D Refuelling

The Squadrons contribution was rewarded with its colours during a parade at Airforce Base Waterkloof on 7 October1994.The following year the squadron record another first for the SAAF when it displayed a Boeing 707 at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom.

Swedish Gripens tank on the then newly painted 60 Squadron Boeing 707

Today a Retired 60 Squadron Boeing 707 tail number 1419 can be viewed at Airforce Base Swartkop on monthly flying days and airshows.

South African Airways scales down capacity due to travel disruptions and restrictions caused by Coronavirus

JOHANNESBURG. 18 March 2020. South African Airways (SAA) has scaled down capacity in response to the low demand for air travel. The effects of the outbreak of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) have led to travel disruptions and restrictions across the world, leading to the grounding of aircraft, releasing employees, and cancelling flights for many airlines. SAA is not immune to these realities.

In the light of the substantial fall in demand for air travel, SAA has reviewed its flight schedule and has decided to operate flights only under circumstances where its load factors and other business considerations weigh in favour of scheduling flights. However, certain flights that have been negatively impacted more than others, are consequently cancelled.

“Notwithstanding the decline in demand, SAA continues to aggressively review its schedule to match capacity with demand to the extent possible. Where feasible, we will consider options that include cancelling and merging flights,” said SAA Chief Commercial Officer, Philip Saunders.

For the period 17 until 31 March 2020, SAA has cancelled a total of 162 flights. Of these, 38 are international and 124 are regional (destinations on the African continent) flights.

At the same time, the airline is continuing to provide a service on the domestic, regional and international networks for those passengers whose travel is essential and cannot be avoided. For the time being, the airline will continue to operate to and from destinations unaffected by travel restrictions aimed at combatting the spread of the Coronavirus.

“Our priority is to assist those travellers wishing to repatriate to their home countries to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible. Naturally, this includes South African citizens abroad wishing to return home,” Saunders explained. 

Subject to the conditions set out in the travel ban announced by government in South Africa, SAA will also facilitate the transfer of qualifying passengers to or from the destinations it flies to, which have been classified as high-risk areas.

Appreciating the impact of travel restrictions emanating from the outbreak of the Coronavirus, SAA has demonstrated its commitment towards looking after its customers by providing flexible rebooking options.

“We have updated our Customer Reservation Policy to help our passengers defer their travel plans where possible. To this end, we have offered our customers one free ticket change, in acknowledgement of travel restrictions that are not of our customers’ own making,” Saunders elaborated.

The Updated Reservation Policy now extends to the entire SAA route network.

Below is a summary of the amended travel policy, which is available on www.flysaa.com.

§  Must rebook / reissue ticket/s by 30 April 2020.

§  Complete travel by 28 February 2021.

§  Rebook same booking class with no additional collection and change fees waived.

§  Additional fare collection and taxes will apply to cases of seasonality change, but change fees will be waived.

§  If same booking class is not available, upgrade to lowest applicable booking class.  Additional fare collection and taxes will apply but change fees will be waived.

§  One (1) free change and ticket reissue permitted only.

§  Tickets to be endorsed “COVID-19 SA FLT/DATE”.

§  Applicable to all fare types.

§  Change of cabin will not be permitted.

§  Change of routing will not be permitted.

§  This travel advisory waives the 72-hour rule.

§  This policyis applicable to South African Airways flights only and does not apply to Mango, SA Express and Airlink, issued on SA (083) ticket stock and not on separate tickets of other airlines. This policywill apply when Mango, SA Express and Airlink forms part of the itinerary issued on SA (083) ticket stock.

§  No refunds are permitted as part of this advisory.

§  Other refunds are permitted according to the applicable fare rules.

§  Previous No-show passengers are not eligible for this waiver.

§  SAA reserves the right to withdraw or revise the terms and conditions without prior notice.

SAA regrets any inconvenience to our customers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and we encourage all customers to visit our website www.flysaa.com for further updates.

Customers are advised to contact either their travel agents, or for direct bookings, the  South African Airways Call Centre on +27 (0)11 978-1111 or 0861 606 606 or 0800 214 774 (South Africa only) or +27 (0)11 978-2888.

“We thank customers for their continued support and placing their trust in South African Airways with their travel plans,” concluded Saunders.

SAA will provide regular and timely updates through media statements and through our travel trade partners.

-Ends-

For media enquiries,  please contact:

SAA Spokesperson
Mr Tlali Tlali 
Email:               TlaliTlali@flysaa.com
Mobile:             +27 (0)82 333-3880
Office:               +27 (0)11 978-2298

Customers to contact:

South African Airways Call Centre on +27 (0)11 978-1111 or 0861 606 606 or 0800 214 774 (South Africa only) or +27 (0)11 978-2888.

General Enquiries:

Website: www.flysaa.com

Twitter (Primary): @flysaa – https://twitter.com/flysaa

Twitter (Customer Service): @flysaa_care – https://twitter.com/flysaa_care

Facebook: www.facebook.com/flysaa

SA Express announces that it will suspend operations from 18 March 2020 until further notice.

17 March 2020, Johannesburg. In light of adverse recent developments including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, SA Express announces that it will suspend operations from 18 March 2020 until further notice. 
 
This decision will impact both SA Express customers and staff in the following manner:
 
•           All customers will be accommodated on alternative flights
•           All non-critical SA Express staff will be placed on compulsory leave during this time
 
The airline will utilise this period to review its current network and streamline operations for improved efficiency. 
 
SA Express will provide communication on any additional developments in due course. 

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