Category Archives: General News and Airshow Reviews

David Simelane Promoted To Chief Pilot Of SANParks Air Services

South African National Parks (SANParks) is proud to announce that Ndabenhle David Simelane has become the first black Chief Pilot for SANParks Air Services. SANParks Chief Operating Officer Lize McCourt, said, “Simelane’s most recent promotion sees him moving from the rank of pilot to SANParks Chief Pilot and Person Responsible for Operations as per the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s regulations”.

“It comes as no surprise that Simelane aka “The Black-Black Hawk”, is progressing through the ranks as he is a skilled professional pilot with solid management and leadership skills with approachability and strength of character to boot”.

On arrival at the SANParks Airwing in Skukuza almost a year ago, Simelane wasted no time forging a solid relationship with the Civil Aviation Authority – an endeavour that serves SANParks well in terms of aviation compliance.

Air Services is part of the newly formed Area Integrity Management unit (AIM), which comprises Air-Services, Firearm Management, Special Operations, Environmental Crime Investigations, and Environmental Compliance. The main objective of creating the AIM unit was to establish and better coordinate safety and security within SANParks. The objective is well underway, with AIM providing core functions such as logistical ranger support, amongst other crucial services within SANParks. McCourt has noted that the unit played an integral role in establishing the Command Centre within Table Mountain National Parks. We believe that the team will continue to excel with Simelane at the helm of Air Services.

McCourt concluded, “There is no doubt in my mind that Simelane will take SANParks Air Services to the next level and it is my sincere pleasure to see transformation in the airwing. Fly Black Hawk, fly!”

Airborne patient evacuation at sea with 15 Squadron SAAF

Jonathan Kellerman, NSRI Durban station commander, said:

At 11h32, Sunday, 11 July, 2 NSRI Durban rescue swimmers, 2 Netcare 911 rescue paramedics and a SA Air Force (SAAF) ,15 Squadron, flight crew, departed Durban Air Force Base aboard a SAAF Oryx helicopter to rendezvous with an oil tanker motor vessel approaching Durban from deep-sea to patient evacuate a 27 year old Filipino crewman suffering a medical complaint.

The crews had been placed on alert by MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) on Saturday after a WC Government Health EMS duty doctor evaluated the patients condition in communications with the ships medical crew and it was deemed necessary for the patient to be evacuated to hospital as soon as possible.

Telkom Maritime Radio Services assisted with the VHF marine radio communications.

On arrival at the motor vessel, 50 nautical miles off-shore of Durban, in calm sea conditions, an NSRI rescue swimmer and the 2 Netcare 911 rescue paramedics were hoisted onto the helicopters deck.

The patient, in a stable conditions, was secured into a vacuum mattress and specialised stretcher and hoisted into the helicopter with one of the rescue paramedics.

The NSRI rescue swimmer and the remaining rescue paramedic were hoisted into the helicopter.

The patient, in the care of the Netcare 911 rescue paramedics, was airlifted directly to a Durban hospital landing zone and then transported to a Durban hospital by Netcare 911 ambulance where he is receiving emergency medical care in hospital and he is expected to make a full recovery.

The patient evacuation operation completed at 13h04.

NSRI Emergency Operations Centre, NSRI Durban duty controllers, Netcare 911 duty controllers, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, WC Government Health EMS, SA Air Force Command, Transnet National Ports Authority and Transnet National Ports Health Authority assisted Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in operational logistics and coordination of the airborne patient evacuation operation.

SAAF Change of Command Parade

A cold frosty morning on the 4th June 2021 we made on way to Airforce Base Swartkop in Valhalla. This is has been our home grounds for years for Airshows, flying training days and parade as such this being the new chief acceptance parade from Lieutenant General Fabian Zakes Msimang to pass on his task as the new chief of the South African Airforce, Lieutenant General Wiseman Simo Mbambo.

Thanks to the South African Media Liaison officers. We were kindly given gift bags and made surely welcome to base and had a fantastic position for photo opportunities for both members of the parade and aircraft flying overhead.

SA Defence News provided live streaming via YouTube for Aviation Enthusiasts and other guests which weren’t able to attend the parade due to covid 19 restrictions. AFB Swartkop made sure all protocols were made for screening and sanitizing all invited guests and media.

A general salute was first up of the sequence of events of cannon gun fire while a pair of Oryx Helicopters carried both the South African National flag and South African Airforce (SAAF) flag. Once again great flying by the crew from various helicopter Squadrons in such windy conditions.

During this time Chaplin Melanie Smit provided the parade with a Religious observance and a code of conduct also mentioned.

Lt General (Retired) Fabian Zakes Msimang continued with his speech as he passes on his command to Lieutenant General W. S Mbambo as said :

I leave an Air Force that centers its behaviour around the needs of the next generation. An Air Force that lived by the slogan “We serve with Discipline, Dignity, Professionalism and Patriotism”.

The mass Flypasts began with a helicopter formation of five Oryx Helicopters from various Squadron from around South Africa and one BK117 from 15 Squadron “Charlie” flight.

The pointer formation was next led by 1 Pilatus PC12 and four Cessna 208A Caravans from 41 Squadron bSed at Airforce Base Waterkloof.

Nine Pilatus PC7s MKIIs led by Major Sivu Tangana, current leader of the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team of the South African Airforce, flew directly over the parade podium showing the abito-nitio trainer for student pilots to qualify to get their wings in the SAAF.

28 Squadron with two C130BZ Hercules in linerstern formation flew over with not far behind them the Combat Formation with two JAS39 Gripens from 2 Squadron and three Hawks from 85 Combat Flying School, both Squadrons based at Airforce Base Makhado in the Limpopo Province.

After the parade we we treated to a wonderful spread of refreshments at the Centre of Aviation Awareness Hanger at AFB Swartkop, where Lieutenant General Mbambo, addressed media and invited guests.

The SAAFs Combat Readiness

THIS IS OUR CORE BUSINESS AS THE AIR FORCE – TO BE ALWAYS COMBAT READY WHENEVER WE ARE REQUIRED TO DELIVER ON OUR MANDATE. WE MUST DO EVERYTHING TO REMAIN AT OUR SHARPEST READINESS LEVEL. NO DOUBT – THERE ARE MANY STORMS AROUND US BUT AS EAGLES WE CANNOT AFFORD TO COW DOWN TO THEM. WE SHALL CONTINUE TO FORGE AHEAD IN LINE WITH OUR INTRINSIC EAGLE CHARACTERISTICS AND OUR MOTTO ASPERA PER SPERA AD ASTRA – FROM THE ADVERSITY TO THE STARS

We’d like to welcome the new Chief of the South African Airforce to his position and look forward to working with him in the future. Till then this “an Airforce that inspires Confidence”

Thanks to the contributors to this article Jarryd Sinovich, Vincent Nagel, Dian Townsend & Gerrit Mynhardt

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Outgoing SANDF General Solly Shoke Parade

The 28th May 2021,saw the outgoing chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) General Solly Zacharia Shoke during a retreat parade at Thaba Tshwane, known to many as the military town of Pretoria.

Just to mention just some of his curriculum vitae In 1998, Shoke commanded the South African Development Community forces during Operation Boleas in Lesotho. He was the Director Personnel Acquisition from January 1999 to October 2000, when he was promoted to the rank of major general as the Chief Director Human Resources Support. He was promoted to Chief of the Army in 2004, and became Chief of the South African National Defence Force in May 2011.Solly Shoke was the longest serving Chief of the SANDF to date.

President Cyril Ramaphosa attened the parade during the hand over the command of the SANDF to Lieutenant-General Rhudzani Maphwanya as new chief of the South African National Defence Force.

A flag fly-past started proceedings by two Oryx Helicopters carrying both the South African National Flag and SANDF flag, a single 44 Squadron Casa 212 dropped skydivers from 44 Parachute Regiment. Different marching columns made their way onto the sports.

First of the Mass Fly pasts included a helicopter fly-past consisting of a Agusta A109LUH from 19 Squadron, four Oryx Helicopters and a 15 Squadron ‘Charlie’ Flight BK117.

Next was the Pelican Formation made up of a 35 Squadron C47TP Dakota and a 44 Squadron Casa 212.Followed then by the pointer formation of four Cessna 208As Caravans from 41 Squadron. It was then the return of 28 Squadron with two C130BZs.Major Sivu Tangana led a 9-ship formation of Pilatus PC7MKIIs from the Central Flying School, AFB Langebaanweg.

The final formation was the combat formation led by Colonel “Boerboel” Mashaba with two Gripens from 2 Squadron and three Hawks from 85 Combat Flying School. It was then time for Major Mohau “Dobaman” Vundla’s first Gripen solo display in Gauteng skies as he comes in as 2 Squadrons new Gripen display pilot!

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Springs De Havilland Fly – Inn 22 May 2021

After gracing the skies for 75 years, it was time to celebrate the life of the de Haviland Chipmunk.

The Chipmunk was the first post war aviation project conducted by de Havilland Canada. It performed its maiden flight on 22 May 1946 and was introduced to operational service that same year. During the late 1940s and 1950s, the Chipmunk was procured in large numbers by military air services such as the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Air Force (RAF), and several other nations’ air forces, where it was often utilised as their standard primary trainer aircraft.

On Saturday 22nd May, the Classics Wings Collection based at Springs airfield in the east of Johannesburg put together a fantastic gathering of de Havilland aircraft based around South Africa., thus including Queenstown based de Havilland Dragon Rapide flown up by Captain Flippie Vermeulen. Not excluding 9 Chipmunks and a number of tiger moths adding to the De Haviland theme of former World War II trainers.

As per Covid regulations, visiting aviation enthusiasts and photographsmers were treated to flypasts from three Chipmunks and a Dragon Rapide. Laster in the day, possibly the biggest formation South Africa has seen of nine Chipmunks to date. One can think back of mass Harvard formations and lately the various kit built RV light sport aircraft in mass formations, and just recently at the Middleburg Air Week a few weeks back!

The Puma Energy Flying Lions led by Scully Levin flew in from Ermelo as they did a evening display the day before at the Presidents Trouphy Air Race (PTAR).Visitors to the field were treated to full aerobatic routine, even though being close to Oliver Tambo’s International Airport airspace!

A word of thanks to the organisers of the event ,a truly fitting tribute to the de Havilland Chipmunk. This weekend coming join us at the Harvard Day at Brakpan Airfield as well as another fly-inn at Springs Airfield. Where the Goodyear Eagles Pitts Specials are due to perform.

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Major-General Wiseman Simo Mbambo is appointed as Chief of the South African Air Force

From the President’s media release: Major-General Mbambo began his military career in Umkhonto we Sizwe, where, among other things, he served as a training instructor in the Kibaxe Camp in Angola and was Commander in Charge of the former MK Military Aviation Group that underwent training in the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.

He has served in several positions in the South African Air Force, including General Officer Commanding Air Force Base Waterkloof and Chief of Staff Air Operations Major-General Mbambo is currently Deputy Chief of Staff of the SANDF.”

New York Air National Guard Capt. Patrick Gillen leads South African Maj Gen Wiseman Simo Mbambo on a tour of a US Airforce C-5M Super Galaxy cargo bay undergoing refurbishment at the base during 2015

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also announced that from 1 June 2021, Lieutenant-General Rudzani Maphwanya will take over as chief of the South African National Defense force SANDF from General Solly Shoke, who has been chief of the SANDF since 2011.

SAAF Helicopters from various squadrons ,Lynx,Oryx,Rooivalk and A109s

Air BP scores a hattrick of sustainable aviation fuel projects at three new locations in the UK

  • Air bp has recently completed projects resulting in SAF supply to three UK locations: London Biggin Hill, Hawarden and Centreline FBO Bristol. 
  • Air bp has now supplied SAF to over 20 locations globally.
  • These latest additions to Air bp’s growing list of SAF available locations demonstrates the importance of collaboration to help drive demand and meet industry lower carbon goals.

Air bp, the international aviation fuel products and service supplier, has recently supplied sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to three airports in the UK: dedicated business aviation airport, London Biggin Hill (BQH), Airbus owned Hawarden (CEG) airport in Flintshire, North Wales, which will be used for fuelling of the Beluga aircraft, and Centreline FBO, in Bristol (BRS). All three locations expect to have SAF available on an ongoing basis. These latest supply agreements demonstrate the importance of collaboration between fuel supplier, airport and customer in driving demand for SAF and ultimately help to meet the industry’s lower carbon goals. 

The SAF supplied by Air bp is made from waste based sustainable feedstocks such as used cooking oil which is blended with traditional jet fuel. The SAF blend supplied is around 35% SAF and the SAF component provides a lifecycle carbon reduction of around 80% compared to traditional jet fuel it replaces.

Andreea Moyes, sustainability director, Air bp, said: “We are excited to see these ongoing commitments to SAF supply. Stakeholders’ willingness to invest in SAF and collaborate with us will help drive demand and deliver carbon reductions compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces. We are committed to working with stakeholders to explore the viable sale and purchase of SAF, which we believe is one of the aviation industry’s key routes to reducing carbon emissions.”

Stephen Elsworthy, manager of fuel services at London Biggin Hill Airport, says: “By offering Air bp’s sustainable aviation fuel to all our customers and resident businesses, we are helping them to meet their sustainability goals too, and vitally, contributing to our industry’s aim for a net zero carbon future”.

Gus Paterson, chief operating officer of Centreline’s parent company Pula Aviation Services Limited, says “In response to growing demand, we’re delighted to be able to offer SAF to our customers and to support global efforts to decarbonise aviation. Air bp is fully committed to supporting its FBOs in understanding SAF and the impact and opportunities it can have for their business and ultimately identifying opportunities for SAF supply.”

Air bp was involved in fuelling the first SAF flight by an airline in February 2008 and since then has been enabling ground-breaking test flights and investing in sustainable alternative fuels.

Bell Delivers First Bell 505 to Ugandan Aviation Company

Fort Worth, TX (Apr. 6, 2021) Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced the
delivery of a Bell 505 helicopter equipped with the Med-Pac Inc. LLC Emergency Medical Services Lite
Interior to BAR Aviation. This marks the first Bell 505 in Uganda and the first Bell 505 designed to
complete medical evacuation (medevac) missions in Africa.


“We are elated that BAR Aviation has chosen the Bell 505 as its Helicopter Emergency Medical Services
(HEMS) platform and will operate the first medevac Bell 505 in Africa,” said Lynette Loosen, regional
sales manager, Africa. “By leveraging the aircraft’s unique design, competitive cost and flexible kit
installation, the platform enables our customers to provide safe and reliable medical services to its
patients.”


BAR Aviation is a Ugandan aviation company known for being the leading operator in the region. Among
its many services, BAR provides air medical evacuation services to support communities and connect
them to life-saving medical support. The Bell 505 will support the work of the Ministry of Health,
Ministry of Tourism, and the police.


“We are proud to accept the delivery of the first Bell 505 in Uganda,” said Barak Orland, CEO, BAR
Aviation. “We saw the need and importance of having an evacuation helicopter in the country that helps
give the citizens of Uganda the best chances of survival in the critical golden hour. The Bell 505 is an
excellent aircraft for the job with state-of-the-art safety features and avionics that allow the pilots to
reach their destinations quickly and safely.”


The Med-Pac EMS Lite Interior offers a carbon fiber deck, back wall equipment rack, oxygen tank and
medical supply bag. The stretcher system can be installed in less than 15 minutes with the 505’s easily
removeable seats and flat floor. The Bell 505 is the only current production short light single-engine
helicopter that can fit a stretcher system.


“We congratulate BAR Aviation on the acquisition of its new Bell 505, which adds another Textron
product to its growing fleet of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters,” said Jim Evans, CEO, Africair. “As one

of Bell’s independent representatives for much of Africa, Africa has supported helicopter operators
across the continent for over 40 years.  Together with Bell, we will do everything possible to ensure that
the 505 exceeds BAR Aviation’s expectations.”
With a speed of 125 knots (232 kilometers per hour) and a useful load of 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms),
the Bell 505 is designed to be safe and easy to fly while providing unmatched value to the operator.

Denel Cheetah C ‘376’ flies again since 2001

The Atlas Cheetah is a South African fighter aircraft designed and produced by the aviation company Atlas Aircraft Corporation. It was developed at the behest of, and principally operated by, the South African Air Force. It was known many ex SAAF Mirage IIIs were converted from the help of the country of Israel using other airframes from Kfir and Nesher delta fighters to name a few.

Denel Cheetah C ‘376’

The South African Airforce retired the Denel Cheetah in April 2008 as the new SAAB JAS39 Gripens were slowly entering service and replacing the Cheetah at 2 Squadron ,Airforce Base Makhado in the Limpopo province.

Draken International has acquired 12 Cheetahs to be utilised as aggressor aircraft flying against some of the worlds most deadly fighters jet the US Airforce and other forms of arms.

Pre 2003 SAAF Insignia still on the aircraft

Draken International, LLC is an American provider of tactical fighter aircraft for contract air services including military and defense industry customers. The firm is based at the Lakeland Linder International Airport in Lakeland, Florida and also has an operating base at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

On April 9 2021 Denel Cheetah C ‘376’ took to the skies piloted by Denel test pilot Ivan “Viking” Pentz. This particular cheetah hadn’t flown since October 2001.What a great sight to see the fast mover up in South African skies as she gets ready to depart for the United States soon.

Denel Cheetah C ‘376’
Ivan “Viking” Pentz

Photos by Casper van Zyl

TR Eagle Air (Pty) Ltd and COVID-19

TR Eagle Air (PTY) Ltd has been in operation as an approved Training Organization (ATO) for a period of more than 19 years. Before incorporation as a company with limited liability, Eagle Aviation was conducted as a sole proprietorship for the preceding years until 2015 when Eagle Aviation was incorporated as a company under the name T R Eagle Air (PTY) Ltd with company registration 2015/040049/07. As such Eagle Aviation, now known as T R Eagle Air (PTY) LTD has been registered as an Aircraft Training Organization (ATO) with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA). Eagle Air is authorised to conduct flight training on Fixed Wing as well as Helicopter, PPL to ATPL.

Eagle Air has since become operational and moreover after incorporation as a private company with limited liability, complied with all its Statutory Taxation obligations and has a valid Tax Clearance Certificate of Good Standing.

Eagle Air is situated at Wonderboom National Airport, Pretoria South Africa. Wonderboom have a fully functional Air Traffic Control Tower, with a ground and tower frequency so students are exposed to radio work from the start and this creates confident and polished pilots. Their pledge to all their clients is to provide safe, efficient and cost-effective flight training. Situated at Wonderboom students have 2 General Flying Areas, both minutes after take-off which leads to a cost saving for students.

Eagle Air has obtained their pledge even during a world-wide pandemic. They did not allow the pandemic to stop them from growing into one of the best flying schooPs in South Africa. Eagle Air was the first ATO to draft and submit a Covid-19 Protocol to the SACAA.

Eagle Air did not come to a halt when the rest of the world did. In the months of lockdown, they developed an online system where students could authorise their briefings and flights, update personal information and keep track of all related training. The Flight Training might have been placed on hold, but their instructors found a way to still assist students as far as possible. Briefings were conducted online through multiple online platforms, small videos were sent to students with little motivation and training notes. Eagle Air kept an open communication channel with all students to keep them in the loop on all new developments. Eagle Air was also one of the first ATO’s to implement Computer Based Training (CBT) doing away with the traditional hard-copy aviation study material.

Even it’s Maintenance department did not just sit back when flight training was not possible. Their Fleet was still regularly maintained to ensure that all aircraft was airworthy for operation once training could commence. Such maintenance was authorised by the SACAA as essential maintenance.

And most importantly, the pandemic did not deter any prospective student to make enquiries on joining Eagle Air Family. Around 20 new students was enrolled during level 5 lock down and have started their new adventure. Since being allowed to operate under level 3, a further 80 students have enrolled and have commenced training.

The number of their students have increased astronomically this year, and have even double in figures in comparison with last yeaös rate. Eagle Air took this opportunity to not only employ qualified Senior Instructors from the Airline Industry to accommodate the influx of students, but also admin staff members to assist where necessary.

Due to this booming growth in the Eagle Air Family, Eagle expanded their facilities by the addition of a new Hangar with more comfortable office space and ample study areas for students. A crew room has also been provided for the instructors.

The expansion also included additional aircraft which increase the Eagle Fleet from 18 Training aircraft to 24 Training Aircraft. The overall expansion would mean that all current and prospective students will be accommodated fully with their training needs.

Eagle Air has, and still, adheres toa Il Covid-19 Rules and Regulations. Sanitising stations were erected, and every main building has a section where hands can be sanitised. Eagle has appointed its own Covid-19 compliant officer who ensures that all regulations are strictly complied with. Sanitisation certificates is also available for all offices, hangars, Simulator and for each individual aircraft.

Everybody at Eagle predicts even bigger things to come, and as one big family standing together, nothing can withhold the Eagle from spreading his wings even wider and flying even higher.

To support the above contention, Eagle is in the final stages of acquiring an AOC for Charters and intends to expand their helicopter training before the end of the year.

Click on photo to enlarge

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