Tag Archives: SAAF99

A Moment Time Stood Still-Air Force Base Swartkop

Wherever one wonders around aviation museums around the world, you wonder and think how aviation has come this far as we speak in 2019,expecially in South Africa .The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Imperial war museum at Duxford and many more.Airforce Base Swartkop in Pretoria is also part of the elite museums to visit as an aviation enthusiast touring South Africa.

The Past..

The SAAF claims Swartkop is the second oldest air station in the world and the oldest operational air station in the world.Over the years many distinguished Squadrons have been based at Swartkop. This includes 26 Squadron which was formed there on 24 August 1942.

* Photos by Adrian Munro, Stefan Bouwer, Team Aviation Central and SAAF Museum archives

Photo of Swartkop taken 1935

The Chief of the South African Air Force opened the relocated at AFB Swartkop in 1993. The Air Force Base reverted to Air Force Station status in 1999. This decision was made by the South African Air Force to vacate the base and leave behind the Museum located there and to keep the Airfield as an extension of Airforce Base Waterkloof. The SAAF Museum Historic Flight had also moved to Hanger 14 at the end of the Southern part of the base to this present day.

As of December 2013 the South African Air Force still hasn’t vacated all operational units on the base. The South African Airforce Museum currently occupies the northern side of the base while active SAAF units occupy the southern side of the base.

One of the oldest ATC Towers In South Africa

Air Force Base Swartkops over watches the residents of Valhalla, Centurion in Pretoria and most air force officers that outlasted their selection phase of pupes course and other forms of duties in the South African Airforce were boundless.

Still to this very day Harvard’s and other museum assets fly at the base
Former 44 Squadron C47 Dakota part of the Museum Historic Flight

The famous SAAF memorial is located on Bays Hill in Swartkop outside overlooks the entire Airbase. Its familiar in pictures of SAAF fighters passing behind it as they brought the sound of freedom amongst visitors of many airshows held over the years. The memorial was unveiled 1 September 1963 by the then State President of South Africa Charles Robberts Swart. The unveiling ceremony was attended by 5000 people.

SAAF Memorial Bays Hill

The history of the SAAF dates back after a visit to observe the 1912 military manoeuvres in Europe, Brig. Gen. C.F Beyers (who was then Commandant-General of the Defence Force) gave an extremely positive report on the future use of aircraft for military purposes to General Jan Smuts initiated an arrangement with private fliers in the Cape and established a flying school at Alexandersfontein near Kimberley, known as the Paterson Aviation Syndicate School, to train pilots for the proposed South African Aviation Corporation.. The first South African military pilot qualified on 2 June 1914.

de Havilland DH.9
New and old trainers T6 Harvard & Pilatus PC7MKII

On the 1 February 1920 Colonel Pierre van Ryneveld was appointed as the Director Air Service with the task of forming an air force, the date is used to mark the founding of the South African Air Force. In December 1920 the South African National insignia was added to aircraft for the first time.

SAAF Insignia 1921–1927
SAAF Insignia 2004-Present

4 Squadron was reformed in January 1951 at AFB Waterkloof as the Active Citizen Force element of 1 Squadron with Harvards and Spitfires until once again disbanded in October 1958. On 1 November 1961, it was reformed at Swartkop, flying Harvards and in August 1972 the first Impala Jets were received.

Swartkop in the late 1940s
Swartkop in the late 1940s Photo credit http://www.spitfire-restoration.co.za

The squadron moved from Swartkop to Waterkloof and then to Lanseria Airport where it received Impala Mk IIs. It saw numerous deployments to South West Africa and Mpacha and Rundu airfields in southern Angola. Its home base remained at Lanseria until it was disbanded in September 1991.

The Museums Spitfire in her former glory days

Airshows at AFB Swartkop over the years..

For years many of Aviation Centrals followers have been to some of the many historical airshows at Airforce Base Swartkop in Pretoria. The shows have had a big impact in promoting aviation in South Africa and more military aviation.

Yester year youngsters watching former fast movers shadowing “Bays Hill” in the foreground in the form of Mirage IIIs,Mirage F1s and Cheetahs and today the Gripen as the countries 4.5 generation fighter aircraft. The echo of the sound of freedom is what draws the “vlamgat” lovers to these shows!

Swartkop has had a number of airshows over the years which were mainly known as flying days from when the museum had a big fleet of ex air force aircraft that were part of the shows program.This also saw many fighter aircraft from the then current and past SAAF from various fast mover squadrons,including Impalas, Mirages, Cheetahs and up till now to the current SAAF fighters Gripen and Hawk. Warbirds that have attended included PBY Catilina, DC3, DC4, DC6, JU52, Spitfires, Mustangs, Sea Fury’s, Yaks and the list goes on.

Ex Eastern block jet trainers such as the L39 and L29, Vampires, Hawker Hunters and a T2 Buckeye have touched down on Swartkops sloped runway on many occasions. Many airliners have taken part in shows and have landed at the base included MD80s, Airbus A319s, Boeing 707s, 727s and 737 series.

Photos below by Adrian Munro, Stefan Bouwer, Team Aviation Central and SAAF Museum archives.

Since 2012, the Chief of the South African Air Force, Lt Gen FZ Msimang, has initiated a programme to preserve and promote our Air Force history, which includes former TBVC states and the Armed Wings of Former Liberation Movements in relation to the corresponding political, social and economic dispensation of the country under the theme “embracing our collective heritage”. One of the fundamental elements in nation-building and cultivating a cohesive society is the reconfiguration of the heritage landscape to ensure that it reflects the diversity and the incredible efforts of the unity of our society.

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SAAF Museum Flying Day 2019-07-06

The first Saturday of July 2019 saw the annual SAAF Museum flying training day take place at Airforce Base Swartkop in Pretoria. Known as the second oldest operational air force base in the world saw a number of museum assets take to the skies above Pretoria.

AFB Swartkop Tower

The day started with a pilots briefing, where Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Bruintjies Officer commanding the SAAF Museum Lieutenant Colonel ,Trish Schoeman Officer Commanding AFB Swartkop and Major Iwan Robbertse (Oryx Helicopter Commander) briefed the pilots on movements and safety for the days flying programme.

Major Iwan Robbertse, Safety officer for the day

A walk through the hangers and some of the aircraft shelters on the bases premises bring back memories of the past aircraft that roamed the skies in South Africa and been able to see the flying exhibits such as the Museums Harvard’s and Harvard Clubs possessions, one of two Cessna C185s,Bosbok,Patchen Explorer, Alouette II, Alouette III and Aerospatiale Puma, which was also the SAAF Golden Eagles Parachute Display Team jump ship for the mornings processing’s.

T6 Harvard
Cessna C185
Alouette III
Aerospatiale Puma
Skydiver
Golden Eagles Parachuting team
Golden Eagles Parachuting team
Golden Eagles Parachuting team
Golden Eagles Parachuting team
Golden Eagles Parachuting team
Golden Eagles Parachuting team

Skydiving photos credit Wimpie Gerber

The Windsock Café fed hungry pilots and visitors with the friendly and helpful Johnathan Taylor behind the counter, The Spitfire Restoration Team also were present with the shadow of ‘Spotty’ the Cheetah hangered in one of the exhibit shelters. The Friends of the Museum also doing their part of giving back to the SAAF Museum.

Mirage F1AZ
Alouette III
Aerospatiale Puma

With the now confirmed date for the SAAF Museum Airshow on the 7th September, the anticipation for a great airshow is around the corner, keep your eyes on our website and Facebook page for the upcoming airshow for more information. Until then keep them up where they’re belong!

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SAAF Prestige Evening Awards

The South African Airforce held a Prestige evening awards ceremony at Airforce Base Swartkop on the 31 January 2019.The following day the Airforce was to celebrate 99 years of air power excellence.

85 Combat Flying School Hawk MK120 “Gannet” on static display.

The aim of the Prestige Evening is to showcase the service excellence by bestowing honours and eminence to the sterling work the done by the different SAAF entities and individuals in their varied stations.

Invited guests were treated to a mini flying display by various aircraft in the South African Airforce inventory, that being the Silver Falcons led by Major Omphile Matloane ,an Oryx helicopter and the SAAF Museums De Haviland Vampire flown by Lt Col Glen ‘Gringo’ Warden.

Silver Falcons
Silver Falcons
De Havilland Vampire T55
De Havilland Vampire T55
17 Squadron Oryx Helicopter

Unfortunately there was no Rooivalk display due to the helicopter picking up a snag during its validation flight earlier in the afternoon. The Weather gods also didn’t agree with the evenings proceeding’s and rather made everyone move into Hanger 5 where supper and speeches took place due to the heavy rain downpour.

16 Squadron Rooivalk flown by Major Paul “Racoon” Kempthorn

Once everyone had run for shelter due to the rain in hangar five “The Centre of Aviation Awareness Hanger ” where the to the choir entertained us until the awards ceremony began.

The Chief of the South African Airforce and MCs for the evening congratulated each of the following units for the outstanding contribution to making the organisation a successful team in their different roles they’re play in the SAAF.

For the rest of the evening we got to listen to the South African Airforce Band, with a special musician who joined us for the evening, Mr
Jonas Gwangwa. He has been an important figure in South African jazz for over 40 years.


Mr Jonas Gwangwa

We would like to say thank you to the South African Airforce for their hospitality and to the Chief of the SAAF for welcoming us to the event personally.We wish the SAAF a great and safe year ahead. The evening ended with a spectacular fireworks display.

The Chief of the SAAF Lieutenant general Fabian Zimpande Msimang and his wife Ms Afrika Msimang enjoying their copy of their 2019 edition of Aviation Centrals Calendar.

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AFB Swartkop to host Prestige Day 01 February

The first and oldest South African Air force Base, Air Force Base (AFB) Swartkop, will host the South African Air Force Prestige Day Parade on 01 February 2019. The parade is scheduled to commence at 10h00.

Previously known as Air Force Day Parade, the parade commander is expected to get the proceedings underway by leading the troops and a Colour-Party in a form of a Ceremonial Wing-In-Review on the parade during which Chief of the Air Force (CAF), Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Zimpande Msimang will acknowledge a salute from members on the parade as the Review Officer.

The Chief of the South African Airforce is expected to bestow trophies to deserving Directorates, Bases, Squadrons and Units for distinguishing themselves in various performances in different categories such as flying unit, support unit to mention but a few.

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On a yearly basis, the SA Air Force sets aside the 31st January and 01st February to celebrate top achievers within its ranks. Aviation enthusiasts who continue to offer resolute support to the SA Air Force will bear witness to the deafening roaring sounds of the SAAF fighter jets, transport and helicopter fleets, as well as Silver Falcons when they perform an aerial display.

Gripen and Hawk Formation
Agusta A109LUH

Known by many as the host of old SAAF hardware, the SAAF Museum will make its presence felt when it deploys its assets such as Puma, Alouette and Harvard to form part of the mass flypast.

Please note that no public will be allowed to enter the base for this event, only invited guested will gain entry.

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