Category Archives: Pilots and Aircraft

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.

Bell Delivers First Bell 505 to Ethiopia

Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, has announced the delivery of a Bell 505
helicopter to W.A. Oil Factory and Distribution PLC in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, its first corporate customer
in the country. With this latest acquisition, there are almost 30 Bell 505s in operation across six
countries in Africa and the Middle East.


“The Bell 505 is an exceptional aircraft for corporate transportation, exceeding customers’ expectations
with a large, customizable cabin and fully integrated high-tech features,” said Lynette Loosen, regional
sales manager, Africa and the Middle East, Bell.


W.A. Oil Factory and Distribution PLC was established in 2016 by CEO Worku Aytenew. The company’s
portfolio of businesses includes mining, real estate and transportation, as well as the W.A. Oil Factory
project. This oilseed crushing and crude oil refining factory, located at Debremarkos in Amhara Regional
State, East Gojjam Zone, imports and distributes ETB 5 billion (USD 200 million) worth of palm oil.
“We are proud to accept the delivery of the first Bell 505 in Ethiopia,” said Aytenew. “Given the rugged
terrain and limited road infrastructure in parts of the country, the Bell 505 will save us hours and
sometimes days of travel time.”


The Bell 505 was delivered to Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, which has an elevation of 7,625
feet above MSL. “We’ve been operating the aircraft at 8,100 feet with no problem at all,” said Capt.
Gilbert Gitonga, pilot, W.A. Oil. “The 505 has plenty of power and is operating extremely well.”
The aircraft was delivered to one of Bell’s independent representatives for Africa, Africair’s Bell
Customer Service Facility (CSF) in Nairobi, Kenya, where it was re-assembled and hangered until its ferry
flight to Addis Ababa.


“With this latest delivery, the Bell fleet in Africa continues to grow, building on its reputation for safety,
reliability and cost-effectiveness,” said Jim Evans, CEO, Africair. “In particular, over recent years the Bell
505 has grown in popularity, with operators on the continent appreciating the flexibility and versatility
of this light helicopter. We are looking forward to building this new relationship with W.A. Oil.”
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.

Bell Announces Delivery of 300 th Bell 505 Jet Ranger X

 Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, announced today
the 300th Bell 505 Jet Ranger X delivery to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). The first Bell 505 was
delivered in 2017, and today there are 300 aircraft in operation across six continents, with customers
logging more than 70,000 global fleet hours.


“The Bell 505 is one of Bell’s fastest growing commercial programs to date, surpassing several significant
milestones since its inception,” said Michael Thacker, Executive Vice President, Innovation and
Commercial Business. “As we continue to see interest for the aircraft in Public Safety, Utility and
Corporate transport, Bell has invested in new products and technologies to expand the Bell 505’s
capabilities.”


The latest Bell 505 platform advancements include the Garmin G1000H NXi avionics suite, Flight Stream,
Autopilot, Lightweight EMS interior, Bell Public Safety configuration, Pulselite, FliteStep, LHS Baggage
Door and Moveable Ballast.


“We are proud to take delivery of the 300 th Bell 505 and expand our fleet capabilities.” said Lt. Col. Brian
Lundy, commanding officer of the JDF Air Wing. “JDF and Bell have a strong history together and today’s
delivery marks another milestone in our relationship.” The Force’s sixth Bell 505 will support Public Safety
missions to serve the citizens of Jamaica and be operated by its Caribbean Military Aviation School
(CMAS) to train the international rotorcraft pilots of tomorrow.


With a speed of 125 knots (232 km/h) and useful load of 1,500 pounds (680 kg), the Bell 505 is Bell’s
newest five-seat aircraft designed for safety, efficiency and reliability using advanced avionics technology.
Its similarities with the Bell 429 platform allow for a smooth pilot transition as JDF begins training
operations. With a Garmin G1000, the platform shares similar avionics with JDF’s Fixed Wing Trainer
aircraft and reduces pilot workload, enhancing the students’ learning experience.

Rolls-Royce officially opens world’s largest and smartest indoor aerospace testbed

Testbed 80 to test the most efficient aero engines of today and the even more sustainable propulsion systems of the future

Rolls-Royce has officially opened Testbed 80, the world’s largest and smartest indoor aerospace testbed, in a ceremony with the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for the Department of Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, in Derby, UK.

The completion of the project is a major milestone after almost three years of construction and a £90m investment. With an internal area of 7,500m2, making it larger than a Premiership football pitch, Testbed 80 was designed with distinctive technologies and systems which are more capable and complex than any of our other testbeds. The testbed conducted its first run on a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine at the test facility in Derby, UK earlier this year.

Warren East, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce, said: “Testbed 80 is the largest facility of its type in the world. However, it is not only big, it is also smart and features the most advanced testing technology we have ever used. As the new global hub of our testing capability, it will support the next stage of our UltraFan programme as we begin ground testing the first demonstrator in 2022. This incredible piece of infrastructure is a very visible sign of our commitment to this site and secures the future of Derby as the home of large engine development, continuing a history that began in the late 1960s with the RB211.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “This testbed here in Derby shows that the UK remains a global leader in aeroengine technology. I’m proud that we’re supporting Rolls-Royce’s development of the highly-efficient UltraFan engine, as well as investment in green and cutting-edge aerospace technology here in the UK that will create high-skilled, well-paid jobs for decades to come.

“As the civil aviation market recovers, the innovation of great British companies such as Rolls-Royce and the entire aerospace sector are central to our plans to build back better from the pandemic and end our contribution to climate change by 2050.”

Testbed 80 will support all three pillars of our sustainability strategy. Firstly, continuing to improve the efficiency of the gas turbine. The facility has been designed to test a range of today’s engines, including the Trent XWB and the Trent 1000, but will also have the capability to test the UltraFan® demonstrator, the blueprint for our next generation of engines. UltraFan will be 25% more efficient than the first Trent engine, and we will begin ground testing the demonstrator at the testbed in 2022.

Secondly, we are committed to promoting the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs), which can already be used as “drop-in” fuels in our existing engines. Testbed 80 has been designed to support this commitment – it is equipped with a 140,000-litre fuel tank (you could fill your car up almost 3,000 times with this amount of fuel) for different fuel types, including SAFs. Next year, we also plan to run our first UltraFan demonstrator test using 100% SAF.

Finally, in line with our ambition to pioneer novel, more sustainable technologies, the testbed is designed to have the capability to test the hybrid or all-electric flight systems of the future.

Part of the new technology development for Testbed 80 has been supported by the ATI’s PACE project, specifically for the UltraFan.

Rolls-Royce is pleased to have partnered with MDS Aero Support Corporation of Ottawa, Canada, for the design and construction of this facility.

Hercules C130 aka “Flossie”

Hercules C130 Flossie aka “Flossie

C130 Flossie

A while back, whilst we were running a series on SAAF aircraft, the question arose as to how the Hercules C130 got the nickname ‘Flossie’. Well, here we have it courtesy of Jan Marais from Who’s Who in the SAAF.

Here is the story of where the name “FLOSSIE” came from.

Not many years after the arrival of the C130B’s onto the SAAF register, South Africa became embroiled in a Border War along the South West African/Angolan border. There has been much good and bad written about that conflict and I am not going to add further to that issue, other than to point out that the C130’s were used on a daily basis to convey troops and material to and from the border, and in later years SAFAIR, operating L100’s, were contracted to assist in the air transport effort. To the casual observer the C130 and L100 look so much alike that one could be forgiven for thinking they were the same. Having said the above I can now get on with story.

At 28 Squadron, the operators of the SAAF C130’s, was a Flight Engineer named Phil or “Flippie”. He was a most dedicated man who ate, slept and dreamed C130. In his private life he was a most disciplined man (real old school, soldier), who never did a half job of anything. You all know the type, “if its worth doing, do it properly or don’t do it at all”

Phil was married to a lady with the real old English name of Florence. In her family she was called Flo, and among her siblings she was called Flossie. (by now you can see where this is going)

Presidential Inauguration 2019

Photo: Johan Stephens

Being the consummate professional Phil would ALWAYS walk out, long before the rest of the crew, to the aircraft he was scheduled to fly in and do a proper pre-flight inspection. A few of his fellow flight engineers would pull his leg and tell him the aircraft was only due for a major technical inspection at a future date. His standard reply was “Chaps, if you treat and look after your aircraft like you look after your wife, she will never let you down” This comment always gave all of his Squadron mates a smile. Over the months, whenever his crew were due to walk out to the aircraft they would ask “where is Flippie, is he at Flossie? or Come guys we shouldn’t keep Flossie waiting” or comments along those lines.

In time the reference to Flossie was made more often at the movement control section at Air Force Base Waterkloof and more and more people became attuned to this reference and this then morphed into all troop transport, becoming known as “FLOSSIE”

You may ask how I know this bit of history. The simple answer is that Phil was my Father and “FLOSSIE: was my Mother.

Flying the BDF C130

RAND AIRPORT CHALLENGE 30 JAN 2021

The 17th Rand Airport Challenge was scheduled to take place at Rand Airport on Saturday 30th Jan 2021. However, the weather gods were not playing ball this time, and with “Eloise” blanketing almost the entire country in clouds and rain, we had to revert to PLAN B.

With the 22nd World Rally Flying Championships postponed to November 2021, the pressure is on to train and select the best Air Rally Team to represent South Africa at this prestigious event. With most of the “old guard” still in place and planning to take part, the opportunity, however, exists to bring some new fresh blood into the South African Rally Flying Team. 

The sport of Rally Flying is not an easy sport. It requires an exceptionally strong “2-man” team of both Pilot and Navigator. Unlike most of the other Air Sporting disciplines which are flyable at competition level, as long as one member of the team is well trained, in Rally Flying a strong pilot without a strong navigator and vice versa is as good as having no team at all.

For this reason, Jonty Esser, who himself is a well-seasoned Protea Rally Flying Pilot (as well as a local aerobatic pilot) has been selected to coach the 2021 South African Flying Team to victory, as soon as they have been selected which should be post the National Championships in April 2021. Now for the official team to be selected, this team has to be sufficiently trained in order to fly to the required standard criteria as laid down by the world organisation.

The past decade (plus) of Fun Rally Programs, introduced by Frank Eckard and Mary de Klerk, and the more recent program of Speed Rallies introduced by Jonty Esser and Rob Jonkers, has produced a remarkably high standard of potential Protea Pilots and Navigators that now need to be put through the Rally Flying Grinder Training modules.

There was no better opportunity to start the 2021 training program than the cancelled Rand Airport Challenge on Saturday 30th Jan 2021. No less than 25 exceptionally keen potential Team members arrived for the “On the Ground” training Modules. The Pilots were herded off into a separate venue and were taught some intricacies of rally flying in terms of fine tuning their approaches and timing overturn points etc by Jonty.  The navigators were put through their paces by 30-year rally veteran, Mary, who spent the best part of a 4 hour period unpacking the plotting procedures, tools required and methodologies with the teams. She was adequately assisted by the other Protea Rally veterans, Frank & Cally Eckard, Hans Schwebel, Ron Stirk, Rob Jonkers, Martin Meyer, and Sandi Goddard. It is interesting to note that even though the “old guard” have between them, thousands of  hours of local, national and international experience, they still managed to find time to drive through to Rand in the rain in order to sharpen their own skills and assist with all the newbies. Hats off to you guys!

Also, in attendance was the Aviation Legend Chester Chandler who, in his eighties now, still dedicated his day to visit and monitor the training session with great interest. He also stayed for the SAPFA AGM which was held at 14h00 and chaired by none other than Rob Jonkers with his dedicated SAPFA Committee members. We all welcomed Ian and Taryn Myburgh as new members onto the committee.

Rally Flying is a well renowned international sport recognised by the FAI. To represent one’s country at an international event is a supreme achievement. I applaud everyone who is taking the sport seriously in order to up weight their own personal skills and achieve what many others would only dream to achieve. However, nothing comes easy – it all requires many hours of hard work and input in order to succeed. Training training training ……

Watch this space to monitor all the upcoming training sessions and who the final SOUTH AFRICAN RALLY FLYING TEAM to represent our beloved country and the World Championships this year will consist of.

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Gyrocopter Used In Local Crime Fighting

Private security companies, Wierdabrug police and Sector 3 CPF came together to fight a recent increase in street robberies in the Raslouw and Heuwelsig community.

Their goal was to nake their presence known and show that they are fighting to stop these crimes in the future.

The robberies are targeted at workers who pass through the area in the afternoon. The robbers are usually after the workers’ money, Monitor Net spokesperson Jp le Roux explained.

As well as the workers, joggers have reported being robbed of their valuables and motorists have fallen victim to the smash and grab tactic.

A Gyrocopter flown by Andre Van zyl was used in the operation. Jp le Roux said that more of these operations will be carried out during the holiday season.

The Spanish Casa

During the late 1960s, the Spanish Airforce was still operating a number of outdated piston-engine transports, including the three-engine Junkers JU52 and Twin Engine Douglas DC3. In order to meet the Spanish Air Force’s needs to modernise its transport force. The CASA proposed the C-212, a twin engine 18 seat transport aircraft that would be capable of fulfilling a variety of military roles, including passenger transport, ambulance aircraft and paratroop carrier, while also being suitable for civil use.

A Casa 212 from 44 Squadron leads a formation of 41 Squadron King Airs during Armed Forces Day Cape Town February 2019.

The first prototype flew on 26 March 1971. In 1974, the Spanish Air Force decided to acquire the Aviocar to update its fleet. The company that now operates the Casa series is now known as Airbus Military.

Portuguese Airforce Casa 212

In 2010, Airbus Military said it could no longer afford to produce the C212 in Europe and after production in Seville slowed to four in two years, the last C-212 produced in Spain was delivered in late December 2012 to the Vietnam Marine Police Over 42 years, 477 aircraft have been produced for 92 operators.

Australian Civil Registered Casa 212-300

The South African Airforce Casa 212 in Service

The SAAF casa 212 and 235 fleet rage from former homelands The Aviocar fleet as inherited in 1994 from the air wings of the former Bophuthatswana (1, 1985), Transkei (2, 1986) and Venda (2, 1988).

SAAF Casa 212 Lowveld Airshow 2018

With 43 Squadron at Cairo West on 12 March 1944 with Avro Anson’s, the squadron began conversion to the Dakota by the end of the month. The squadron was involved in scheduled and unscheduled flights throughout the region and even as far as Rome, Russia, Karachi and the Gold Coast (Ghana). In February 1945 the squadron moved to the Italian port of Bari for operations in the Balkans, including providing support to Yugoslav partisans.

eSwatini Airshow 2019 Casa skydiver drop

The squadrons activities were not confined to the Balkans, with general transport and VIP flights to the south of France, Turkey, Egypt and Britain. The squadron was eventually disbanded at Bari on 6 December 1945.

44 Squadron Casa 212 & 41 Squadron Cessna 208A Caravan, Newcastle Airshow KZN 2011

The squadron was reformed in November 1953 at Swartkop as a transport unit flying Dakotas by renumbering 25 Squadron. The squadron spent a few years at Waterkloof between 1956 and 1963 before returning to Swartkop. Ex-SAA DC-4 Skymasters joining the fleet in 1966. The Vickers Viscount was transferred from 21 Squadron in October 1983 and flew with the squadron until sold in 1991. In 1992, the squadron moved to AFB Waterkloof and re-equipped with Dakotas converted to the C-47TP standard.

Lowveld Airshow 2018
Airforce of Zimbabwe Casa 212
Airforce of Zimbabwe Casa 212 AAD2018

The Skymasters were retired in 1994. During 1998 the C-47TPs were transfered to 35 Squadron when the squadron took over the CASA 212s and CN-235 of the disbanded 86 MEFS. With the disbanding of 42 Squadron in February 2000.44 Squadron took over their Cessna 185’s as well, using them to form B Flight, while the CASAs formed A Flight.

Ladysmith Airshow KZN 2019
South African Airforce & Airforce of Zimbabwe Casas

44 Squadron had a very busy start to the year 2019,as typhoons ripped over the eastern parts of Africa including Mozambique and Malawi.The casa was tasked to take medical and food aid while other contries who also assited at the time.The casa 212 has also been a regular at South African Airshows this year as a jump ship for the Golden Eagles Parachute display team.

Today the Casa 212s still operate out of Airforce Base Waterkloof with the Casa 212 whispering over the field.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 26 passengers / 25 paratroops / 2,820 kg (6,217 lb) military payload / 2,700 kg (5,952 lb) cargo payload
  • Length: 16.15 m (53 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 20.28 m (66 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 6.6 m (21 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 41 m2 (440 sq ft)
  • Aspect ratio: 10
  • Airfoil: NACA 653-218[51]
  • Empty weight: 3,780 kg (8,333 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 8,000 kg (17,637 lb) military

7,700 kg (16,976 lb) standard

  • Max Landing weight: 7,450 kg (16,424 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 2,040 l (540 US gal; 450 imp gal) / 1,600 kg (3,527 lb) internal

and 1,000 l (260 US gal; 220 imp gal) auxiliary fuel tanks in the cabin or 2x 750 l (200 US gal; 160 imp gal) auxiliary fuel tanks in the cabin and/or 2x 500 l (130 US gal; 110 imp gal) underwing auxiliary fuel tanks

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 370 km/h (230 mph, 200 kn) VMO (maximum operating speed) at MTOW
  • Cruise speed: 354 km/h (220 mph, 191 kn) (max cruise) at 3,050 m (10,007 ft)
  • Economical cruise speed: 300 km/h (190 mph; 160 kn) at 3,050 m (10,007 ft)
  • Stall speed: 145 km/h (90 mph, 78 kn) in take-off configuration
  • Range: 835 km (519 mi, 451 nmi) with full military payload
  • Ferry range: 2,680 km (1,670 mi, 1,450 nmi) with maximum fuel and 1,192 kg (2,628 lb) payload
  • Service ceiling: 7,925 m (26,001 ft)

3,380 m (11,089 ft) on one engine

  • Rate of climb: 8.283 m/s (1,630.5 ft/min)
  • Take-off distance to 15 m (49 ft): 610 m (2,001 ft) (MIL-7700C)
  • Landing distance from 15 m (49 ft): 462 m (1,516 ft) (MIL-7700C)
  • Landing run: 285 m (935 ft) (MIL-7700C)

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TU-160 Strategic Bombers Land at AFB Waterkloof

A pair of TU-150 Blackjack variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bombers landed at Airforce Base Waterkloof yesterday afternoon after a 13 hour flight from Engels Air Force Base which is strategic bomber military airbase in Russia located 14 kilometres east of Saratov.

TU-160 Blackjack on final approach into Waterkloof Airforce Base

The aircraft were originally scheduled to arrive in South Africa on 22 October but were delayed by 24 hours due to technical issues. The aircraft finally departed for a 11 000 kilometres non-stop to journey to South Africa.

The aircraft routed down the East coast of Africa, with the help of some Aerial Refueling from a Russian Airforce IL78 Tanker over the Caspian Sea. The historical visit if the bombers landing at Waterkloof South Africa is part of developing bilateral military cooperation and work out issues of interaction between the Russian Aerospace Forces and the South African Airforce.

The Bombers were escorted from Durban with 3 Hawk Mk120s from 85 Combat Flying School while two 2 Squadron Gripens conducted a Combat Air patrol during the flight into Airforce Base Waterkloof.

85 Combat Flying School Hawk Mk120s escorting one of two TU160s
85 Combat Flying School Hawk Mk120s
2 Squadron JAS39D Gripen

The SAAF’s deputy chief, Major General Innocent Buthelezi, said on Wednesday it was a privilege to host the Russian aircraft especially as it was the first time such bombers have landed in Africa. He said the visit was part of military-to-military cooperation between Russia and South Africa and looked forward to strengthening relations between the two defence forces.

Siphiwe Dlamini, Department of Defence head of communications, said the Russian visit had been planned long ago and is part of the bilateral defence ties between South Africa and the Russian Federation. He added that South Africa has had exercises with the Russian Navy and competed in Russia’s Army Games, whilst South Africa has military personnel training in Russia. In late November, Russia, China and South Africa will take part in a joint naval exercise in South Africa. Dlamini said the Russian Air Force visit has been in the making for the last five to eight years.

Department of Defence head of communications, Siphiwe Dlamini

The aircraft are due to depart back to Russia on Monday 28th October 2019.Please feel free to keep an eye out on our Facebook page for updates of the aircrafts movements.

Click to enlarge photos

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