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“Our Collective Heritage” SAAF Museum Airshow 2019

D-Day for the annual South African Airforce Museum Airshow 2019 had finally arrived at the worlds second oldest operational airbase in the world, Airforce Base Swartkop which is home to the South African Airforce Museum and 17 Squadron a operational helicopter unit also active at the base. The Theme for this years show was “Our Collective Heritage” this is to celebrate and recognise the procurement of our past and present in the SAAF.

Both Umkhonto we Sizwe ( MK ) and Azanian Peoples Liberation Army (AMPLA) sent their pilots abroad to train on aircraft including Cessna 150s and L39s.Helicopter Pilots were sent to Russia for their rotary wings course flying both the MI24 Hind and Mil Mi8 Helicopters.

Former homelands in South Africa known as the TBVC Sates, which were the Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and the Ciskei had their very own Airwings which operated light transport aircraft, helicopter and turbo prop trainers including Pilatus PC7 MKIs just some of the few of their air assets. This was also a perfect occasion to celebrate the theme our collective heritage as mentioned above.

The SAAF Museum Airshow was opened by the Chief of the South African Airforce Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande “Zakes” Msimang. Who flew in one of the Museum Alouette III, General Msimang a former helicopter pilot mentioned in his speech “The purpose of the Museum Air Show is primarily to celebrate our collective heritage, as well as a build up towards the Aerospace and Defence Expo in September 2020.”

The South African Airforce Band, choreographed some beautiful sets of instrumental music for the opening of the show and kept the public entertained during the course of the day with sights and sounds of military men and women putting together their talent of music.

With the low cloud base in the morning of the show, the Golden Eagles Parachute display team were unfortunate not allowed to jump out of the 44 Squadron Casa 212 based at Airforce Base Waterkloof.

Air boss for this years show was Lieutenant Colonel Rodney King a former leader of the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Display team. Capital Sounds Brian Emmenis had a huge deployment with at least a kilometre of speakers, so that the strong 30 000 plus crowd could hear commentary from both Brian Emmenis, Leon Du Plessis, Colonel Lance “Lancelot” Mathebula,Colonol Catherine “Siren” Constable, Major Dale Naddison,Lieutenant Colonel Iwan Robbertse, Captain Tiisetso “Lego” Legodi and Major Mandisa “Comet” Mfeka.

The Silver Aerobatic Display team opened he show with their flat display with Major Omphile “Biggy” Matloane at the lead. The Museums Helicopter’s were next with a aerial ballet from both the Alouette II and Alouette III.A solo display by the Puma, flown by General John Church.

The First jet display for the day was the Museums Vampire T55 flown by Colonel Glen “Gringo” Warden. Glen also flew the Rand Airport Based L29 and L39 adding to the eastern block jet age.

South African Airforce Displays consisted of a Hawk MK120 flown by Lieutenant Colonel Craig “Shark” Leeson, as he gave his last display as 85 Combat Flying Schools display pilot. Major Rehan “Kaine” Venter will be taking over as the Hawk display pilot. Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper put the Gripen JAS39C through its paces with a flare drop at the end of his display.41 Squadron provide a formation display of a Pilatus PC12 and two Cessna 208A Caravans.17 Squadron provided a Oryx Capability demonstration with fast roping and troop extracting. A combat air routine was also carried out by two Hawk MK120s and a JAS39D Gripen fully loaded with ammunition was surly a favourite to see flying in that configuration.

The South African Airforce Museum put on a mini war re -enactment with two Alouette IIIs, Puma,two Cessna C185s,A Kudu and Bosbok. The Museum and Harvard Club T6 Harvard’s flew a mass radial display with a mass shutdown at the end of their slot.

Team Extreme were also present on the day as they have delighted more than hundreds of thousands of people at airshows in Southern Africa this year already. Other Aerobatic teams that were present were the Goodyear Eagles Pitts, The Cows Pitts Specials and the Puma Flying Lions. The MAD Microlight display team also closed the show with LED lights and smoke added to their trikes.

Singleton displays consisted of a Magni Gyro Copter flown by Andre van Zyl, The Nashua Extra 300 flown by Andrew Blackwood Murry. Menno Parsons made a welcome return to Swartkop this year with his P51D Mustang.The radial formation made up of ‘Little Annie’ an Antonov 2 flown by Jon-Marc and Mark Hill as well as a Boeing Stearman flown by Ivan van der Schaar and Riaan Prinsloo in his Yak 18T.Each of the radials then provided a solo display. The Classic Formation made up of a De Havilland Tiger Moth and two Chipmunks added to the De Havilland Aircraft heritage. Anton von Willich flew a display in his Aerospatiale Gazelle. General Des Barker flew a demo flight in the Wonderboom based Atlas Angel.

As the Gripen closed off the show with a sunset display, ending off with flares into the dark blue skies. Another successful and safe Swartkop Airshow had come to an end. With the short amount of time the SAAF Museum and the SAAF had to pull off a great show with a variety of aircraft on display, a big well done to all involved from Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande “Zakes” Msimang Chief of the SAAF, Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Bruintjies Officer commanding SAAF Museum, Lieutenant Colonel Trish Schoeman Officer Commanding Airforce Base Swartkop, Lieutenant Colonel Rodney King Flight Director for the show, Major Ntokozo Ntshangase as the media liaison for the SAAF Museum, Capital Sounds and to all display pilots, ground crews ATCs and all other role players behind the scenes that made the show a success.

Until we all meet again at the 2020 SAAF Museum Airshow and celebrate 100 years of the South African Airforce “As the SAAF Museum like to say Keep them up where they’re belong!”

Watch some of the highlights below from this years SAAF Museum Airshow 2019!

https://youtu.be/dN8xcu63kLc

The Chief of the South African Airforce Opens the SAAF Museum Airshow 2019

Address by Lieutenant General Fabian ‘Zakes’ Msimang at the opening of the South African Air Force (SAAF) Museum at Air Force Base Swartkop on 7 September 2019.

Lieutenant General Fabian ‘Zakes’ Msimang flies in one of the SAAF Museums Alouette IIIs

It is with great pleasure that I open the SAAF Museum Air Show during this Heritage Month. I would first like to extend a big thank you to you all for your presence.

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.

Our interventions are guided by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the supreme law of the land, whose preamble partly reads as follows: “We, the people of South Africa, Recognise the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”

In line with these constitutional imperatives, the SAAF is committed to the preservation and promotion of our Air Force heritage.

Let us take a moment to remember and analyse the father of Zimbabwean liberation, Tata Robert Mugabe on his passing away. Some may hold various views on him, but again this is all part of our African heritage – in its entirety.

Let us take a moment to also reflect upon the rise of femicide in our country and ask ourselves as parents how are we raising our sons. What example are we setting in our homes. Where are we going wrong? A brave man treats women with respect and appreciation. A coward abuses women emotionally and physically. I do hope that no SAAF member will ever stoop that low, if anything I expect us to be more conscious and exemplary. I call upon the men and boys of our motherland to be human, to find Ubuntu, to show compassion for the girls, for the sisters, friends, mothers and grannies. Please let us do better as a nation. Let us not squander the fruits of our hard earned liberation.

The purpose of the Museum Air Show is primarily to celebrate our collective heritage, as well as a build up towards the Aerospace and Defence Expo in September 2020.

The history of the South African Air Force goes back to 1920, and our democratic and all-inclusive Air Force is 25 years old. So, next year we will be recognising the centennial history of the SAAF, through a post apartheid outlook. The theme of the SAAF on the 1st of February 2020 shall be “100 years of Air Power, through 25 years of Democracy”.

Beyond the display of our air power and expertise, what marks this event today, is the need to begin to embrace our collective history with an element of sincerity and compassion. For a very long time, the SAAF history has been one dimensional, told from the perspective of our erstwhile predecessors. Such an approach of our history has managed to diminish and undermine the cold weight of oppression and humiliation that was felt by the majority.

The roots of our collective story spread far wider and much deeper than we can imagine. We all have an obligation to better understand ourselves and each other if our nation is to heal. We have to embrace and be accountable for our collective heritage, if our children are to be more forgiving, more understanding and compassionate.

A maturing democratic nation should not embellish the truth of its past. A true reflection of our history shall make us understand the mistakes and violations we have made. Yes, it can make us uncomfortable, but the discomfort is meant to make us learn, grow and help us mature. The discomfort is meant to help us begin to respond with integrity to the causes of poverty, femicide, crime, grime and greed, to be able to look holistically at the main challenges that face us.

We have to be at ease speaking about our history of suffering and victory. Our history of fear and faith. Our history of triumph against all odds. Our history of a desired deep sense of unity in the face of deliberate divisions.

It is in the ability to embrace and to celebrate our collective heritage where the power of real patriotism lies. To speak of collective heritage is indeed an act of patriotism.

So compatriots, as you enjoy the air show today, please do make time to visit our modest museum. It is yours to learn from, it is yours to reflect upon and also please do make further suggestions on how our museum can be one of the best military museums in the southern hemisphere.

We all have an obligation to foster social cohesion, nation-building and economic development as an engaged and committed citizenry. Let us stop complaining, let us turn the litany of excuses into nation-building results. This is our country. This is your Air Force – “An Air Force that Inspires Confidence”.

Have a fantastic day – the weather a bit chilly for now. The children look happy. As always, under-18s enjoyed free entrance – which makes this the perfect day out for aviation enthusiasts and families alike.

Thank you all and be blessed. Wishing you all a Heritage Month of self-reflection and self-awareness and your best contribution to our nation-building efforts.

Thank you.

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SAAF Museum Training Day 2019-08-03

This past weekend the SAAF Museum once again held their monthly flying day. Being busy with other aviation events this past couple of months, we really enjoyed being back for a great museum event. This flying day was very busy in particular with three Allouette helicopters, five Harvards, a bosbok, Cessna 185, Patchen Explorer and Puma all flying. The Friends Of The SAAF Museum sold very tasty boerewors rolls and the Windsock café also had a wide selection of toasted sandwiches and drinks to satisfy all tastes on the day.

The visitors had plenty of flying to enjoy, starting out with the Aerospatiale SA 330 Puma starting up right in front of the crowd line. The Puma pilots ensured that everyone nearby left with a funky hairstyle. As the Puma taxied past, it was able to blow over my tripod  with my secondary camera doing video recording. Luckily the only thing that was damaged was my ego with my fellow photographer friends getting a good laugh out of the tumbling Canon.

With this being the final flying day before the big airshow in September, some of the Harvard pilots lead by Glen Warden flew a nice formation flight at the end of the day. The three Harvards participating in the flyby were Siyandiza, 7231 and 7480. The trio flew a tight formation coming from the rear over the main tower, making a wingover to the left, passing over Bay’s Hill and then passed in front of the crowd again.

This year’s airshow was delayed due to the elections taking place in May. The official date has now been set as 7 September 2019. The show organisers are hard at work with the planning and the theme for this year’s show is “Collective Heritage”. The Gautrain will once again be aiding with transport and Computicket will be the ticket sellers. The prices are as follow: R80 for over the age of 16, R30 for 12-16 and under 12 is free. NB: Ticket sales are not open at the time of writing. Keep an eye on the event Facebook page for more info regarding the show.

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