Tag Archives: 85 combat flying school

SAAF Mach Plus Reunion 2022

The first time a SAAF pilot hit transonic speed was way back in September 1956 when an unauthorised Sabre flight at the then home of the SAAF’s jet squadrons – AFB Waterkloof – with now retired Colonel John Inglesby at the controls broke the sound barrier.

On Friday 10th June 2022,it was the gathering of many current and ex fighter jocks of the South African Airforce. Many that have broken the sound barrier in various types from the Mirage III up to the the fourth generation Gripen gathered at Airforce Base Swartkop for the SAAF Mach Plus Reunion.

The evening started with a sunset display 85 Combat Flying School Hawk MK120 flown by Major Rehan “Kaine” Venter. The sound of freedom was echoed into the display halls around the museum housing some of the former frontline fighter jets the South African Airforce once flew.

Major Venter ended his display with spectacular flare drop before landing. A proud moment for his father former Mirage F1CZ display pilot Johann “Jeronkie” Venter watching his son display a fast jet.

Invited guests continued the festivities into the evening, bringing back memories from over the years of flying. As well as welcoming new members into the Mach Plus Club.

Pictures by Gerrit Mynardt & Jarryd Sinovich

Please brose through our Gallery below!

Newcastle Airshow KZN 2022

What now is the longest running airshow in South Africa, for the last 10 years the KwaZulu-Natal town of Newcastle has managed to have a decade of successful airshow. Obviously with the pandemic the show would be on its twelve year but got interrupted by hard lock downs and other reasons delaying the show in 2020 and 2021.

With the theme “I Can Dream” Champ Group Johan Pieters, Christo van Zyl and Romano Raghoo organisers of the last ten shows did it again. The only airshow in the entire KwaZulu-Natal, attracted many aviation enthusiasts and first timers at an airshow on 4th June 2022.

Airshow South Africa put together a great programme with a variety of display aircraft including the South African Airforce, a major contributor to a number of previous shows in the past as well.

Rikus Erasmus, who is Airshow South Africa Chairperson, was Flight Director. Louise Hofmeyr handled the media accreditation and placed the photographers in a great area for getting the shot of the day!

Keith Fryer former South African Airforce Cheetah pilot was safety director. Lieutenant Colonel Levi Mogosti former 22 Squadron Lynx flight engineer was the South African Airforce safety Liaison officer. Brent Waren was ramp controller who is a familiar face at Stellenbosch Airfield.

ATNS Ricardo Alfonso and his team of ATCs were kept busy from the Friday with arrivals through to the last departure on Saturday after the show.

Capital Sounds Brian Emmenis arrived the Friday before the show to set up sound equipment. Brian recently worked with Hollywood actor Tom Cruise in various South African provinces on a new movie that will be out in the near future. Brian himself, Leon Du Plessis provided excellent commentary on all aircraft and letting the crowd hear radio chatter between pilots.

The Chief of the South African Airforce Lieutenant General Wiseman Simo Mbambo flew in late Friday afternoon in a 17 Squadron Agusta A109LUH.Lieutenant General Mbambo grew up in Northern KwaZulu-Natal in a small village called Louwsburg (e-Ngoje).

The show started at 11am by then the crowds had arrived. A Cessna 206 was the jump ship for the massive South African Flag flown by Ralph Ridge and others including members from the South African National Defence.

It was then time for the fast movers in the form of Hawk MK120s from 85 Combat Flying School two-ship capability demonstration led by Major Kgosimang “Cipher” Seeco flanked on the wing by newly qualified wingmen at 85 Combat Flying School. The morning display was Captain Tiisetso “Lego” Legodi and then Major Mikhail “Spectre” Petersen in the afternoon.

The South African Airforce also had a 19 Squadron A109LUH on static display for the public to view as well as information for the youth to join the air force.

The Amajuba district municipality invited learners from a number of schools to listen to key addresses including the Chief of the South African Airforce and many others. The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs of KwaZulu-Natal and KwaZulu- Natal Tourism are part of the driving force of the show.

Next was the Goodyear Eagle Pitts S2Bs owned by Aerobatics Unlimited and retired SAA Captain Dennis Spence. The two ship was flown by Flysafair pilot Johan von Solms also a former Cheetah pilot. His lead was Trevor Warner, the new member of the team!

The Magni Gyrocopter was excellently flown by Andre van Zyl, who provided two displays for the day after flying in from Gauteng. Henley Air’s Andre Coetzee flew the Bell 222 helicopter display. Henley Air is the biggest operator of the Bell 222 in Africa and if not the world.

Juba Joubert flew a Alouette II display, probably the best helicopter display pilot flying the older generation of helicopters in the world.

The Puma Flying Lions flew a three-ship display flown by Scully Levin, Arnie Meneghelli and Sean Thackeray. The Harvard’s also did a missing man formation for the late Mark “Sammy” Sampson who tragically lost his life in a airshow accident in Zimbabwe a few days before the show.

A rare visitor to Newcastle was Dave Mandel in his Aero L39 ZU-Jet which is based in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) . Was great to see the camouflage of this particular L39 and very photogenic.

Unfortunately the L39 had a tyre blow out on landing and Dave did a great job handling the aircraft, as well as both flight director and safety officer brining it to a complete stop on the opposite side of the runway. Emergency services were dispatched as a precaution and were at the scene in seconds.

The show carried on at lunch with Ivan van Der Schaar in his Boeing Stearman, being the only other radial aircraft at the show. It’s a real classic to the public eye.

The Raptor RV two ship flown again by Trevor Warner and Johan von Solms provided close formation aerobatics.

The airshow closed with the pair of Hawk MK120s. Some the visiting aircraft departed back to their home bases. And another safe and successful airshow in Newcastle was done and dusted. And we now start the count down to next year’s show once again.

Please Browse through our gallery below!

Armed Forces Day 2022-Mbombela Mpumalanga

After an absence of two years thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. Armed Forces day made a welcome return to Mbombela previously Nelspruit on the 21st February. The South African National Defence Force deployed some of its assets and people onto the door step of the Kruger National Park. One of the biggest tourist attractions in South Africa.

Each Armed Forces Day we remember the servicemen of the South African Native Labour Corps who perished during the sinking of the SS Mendi in the English Channel on 21st February 1917.

After the arrival of VIPs and President Cyril Ramaposa. As of any other parade opening a 21 gun salute econing into the hills around Mbombela and a flag flypast by helicopters including a Agusta A109LUH and a pair of 15 Charlie Flight Squadron BK117s.

President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned below during his speech on the poduim “

“The SANDF has more than lived up to this task, particularly over the past year, when our country endured great tribulations.”

“How apt, then, is the saying that the truest measure of courage is perseverance under pressure.” 

“As the Commander-in Chief of the SANDF, I could not be prouder of you. Our nation could not be prouder of you.”

“As a people, we are reassured that no matter the circumstances our nation faces, the SANDF will always be there.”

Onto the parade it was time for the mass flypasts. First up was the mass helicopter formation of seven helicopter assets. Two Rooivalk attack helicopters from 16 Squadron based at Airforce Base Bloemspruit. Two Agusta A109LUHs. Two BK117s from 15 Squadron “Charlie Flight” Airforce Base Port Elizabeth. And a lone Oryx Helicopter.

Pointer formation was next on the cards sigh four 41 Squadron Cessna 208A Caravans from Airforce Base Waterkloof. Behind them there was a Pilatus PC12, a 44 Squadron Casa 212-300 making up for the transport assets in the parade.

Central Flying School from AFB Langebaanweg in the Western Cape, with four Pilatus PC7MKIIs flew over in diamond formation led by Major Angus Maleka.

The final formation was from 85 Combat Flying Schoo, with four Hawk MK120s from Airforce Base Makhado led by Major Corne “Stilbo” Deventer, a former Silver Falcon Aerobatic Team member.

All marching columns, mechanised columns were next after the end of the flypasts. Thank you to major role players on hosting the parade and putting it together. We look forward to the SA Navy planning the next Armed forces day in 2023.

Armed Forces Day 2020 Capability Demonstration |Night Shoot- Roodewal Bombing Range

The most anticipated event of the Armed Forces Week taking place in Polokwane had to be the capability demonstration at the Roodewal Bombing Range a few kilometres outside the Limpopo capital Polokwane.

Guests were flown up to Polokwane by a charted aircraft,where they were then bused to the bombing range,to witness some of the different assets the South African National Defence Forces Firepower!

The display of arms started with various vehicles showing their fire power, that being the Ratel 90,Olifant MK2 battle tanks are just to name a few.Pathfinders were then dropped into the battle zone as that was the beginning of the mechanised attack from different mechanised armored vehicles, air assets and other ground forces.

Ratel 90
Olifant mk2

The South African Airforce are big favourites at Roodewal as this is the home to 2 Squadron and 85 Combat Flying School as their weapons training grounds. An Oryx Helicopter simulated a fire fighting task, with a Bambi bucket equipped underneath the helicopter.

Oryx Helicopter

The fighters assets provided a recce run, with a single gripen and hawk. A 2v1 combat routine was then shown by two friendly JAS39C Gripens and a enemy Hawk Mk120.

Hawk & Gripen Formation
2 Squadron JAS39C Gripen

Trooping was tasked to a pair of Oryx helicopters with fast ropping, followed by two Agusta A109 helicopters providing a mock hoisting operation from a downed pilot scenario.

Agusta A109LUH

From the transport line including 44 Squadron with a single Casa 212 simulated a tactical cargo supply drop. A 41 Squadron Cessna 208A Caravan was the eye in the sky providing top cover footage to both the spectators and playing a vital role during the entire period of the demonstration with aerial visuals to the coordinators of the simulated battle zone.

44 Squadron Casa 212
41 Squadron Cessna 208A Caravan

The invited guests were treated to see 2 different 16 Squadron Rooivalks in camo and in white, the proudly south African made helicopter provided both cannon and rocket fire gun runs during the demo.

16 Squadron Rooivalk rocket strike!
16 Squadron Rooivalk

Bombing runs were then up next ,with Hawks and Gripens and then followed by a 30mm Aden cannon strike from four Hawks on Charlie Coke known to the pilots as the famous weapons strike zone!

Hawk Bomb Run
The Aftermath
Hawk 30mm Cannon

The night shoot was made up of all arms of ground forces fire power at Roodewal,as well as a cannon and rocket strike from a Rooivalk Helicopter. A single gripen flew directly over the crowd with full afterburner as it reached for the Limpopo night skies filled with dropping flares,a oryx helicopter following next with a flare drop to close off this years Armed Forces Day Capability demonstration.

Oryx Helicopter Flares

A very big well done to all members of the South African National Defence Force that made the event possible and abling the media to attend these exciting demo’s!

South African Airforce Prestige Day 2020

The South African Airforce Prestige Day was held at Airforce Base Swartkop, the second oldest operational Airforce Base in the world to date, in Pretoria on Friday 31 January 2020.

AFB Swartkop

The South African Air Force was established on 1 February 1920. The Air Force has seen service in World War II and the Korean War. This years theme of celebrating the South African Airforce, is “embracing our collective heritage”.

The parade was opened by a paradrop from two 44 Squadron Casa 212s with a number of skydivers from the Golden Eagles Parachute display team and the Pretoria Military Skydiving Members, including the big South African flag.

22 Squadron Lynx Helicopter

Part of General Fabian Msimang’s speech he mentioned:

“Formation of the Union of South Africa’s Air Force
In 1917 sent by Prime Minister General Louis Botha to London to attend the Imperial Conference, General Jan Smuts presented a report to the British Parliament which became known as the ‘Smuts Report’ stated, inter alia;”


“Air Service on the contrary, can be used as an independent means of war operations far from and independently of, both Army and Navy.”
General Jan Smuts soon summoned Sir Pierre van Ryneveld to London and was told:

Chief of the South African Airforce General Fabian Msimang
Chaplin Smit reads a beautful testimony


“I want you to go back out to South Africa and start an air force”. 
Subsequently, South Africa received an Imperial Gift that comprised of 113 aircraft and included steel frames for 20 hangars and everything else required to start and operate an air force. The consignment was sent here to where we currently stand, an airfield that was named Swartkop, the oldest active military airfield in the world today.  Some of the Imperial Gift Hangars are still in daily use as you can see.

Prestige Day 2020 Mass Flypasts

During the parade we got to wintness some spectacular flypasts from both ex and current South African Airforce aircraft, a mass helicopter formation led by a 16 squadron Rooivalk attack helicopter. Other types of helicopters included Oryx, Lynx, Agusta A109s from various chopper squadron across South Africa. The SAAF Museum also were a part of the formation with a Puma, two Alouette IIs and Alouette IIIs.

SAAF Helicopter Formation
A pair of 16 Squadron Rooivalk, Museum Puma, Agusta A109LUH & Oryx Helicopter
Agusta A109LUH
Oryx Helicopter
16 Squadron Rooivalk & Museum Alouette II

The next formation included two museum aircraft assests, a Kudu and Cessna C185, followed by a formation of Harvards.The Transport formation was up next led by a 35 Squadron C47TP Dakota, with three 41 Squadron Cessna 208A Caravans and two 44 Squadron Casa 212s making up the formation.

Museum C4.M Kudu & Cessna C185
Museum Harvard’s
35 Squadron C47TP Dakota, Leads a trio of 41 Squadron Cessna C208A Caravans & 44 Squadron Casa 212s
35 Squadron C47TP Dakota

The sound of freedom was then up next with the roar of the Hawk and Gripen formation as they buzzed overhead the parade made up of 85 Combat School and 2 Squadron assets. The Final flypast was led by a 21 Squadron Boeing 737BBJ, A Dassault Falcon 50 and the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team.

Fighter Formation 2 Squadron Gripens & 85 Combat Flying School Hawk Mk120s
Fighter Formation 2 Squadron Gripens & 85 Combat Flying School Hawk Mk120s
21 Squadron Boeing 737BBJ,A Dassault Falcon 50 and the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team.

The prestige unit of the year for the South African Airforce from 2019 was presented to AFB Ysterplaat as part of the Prestige Unit award.

AFB Ysterplaat awarded the Prestige unit trophy.

The parade concluded with Fledglings releasing doves and balloons while the SAAF announcer read out, “We will keep whirling and twirling from the sky. White doves fly into our hearts, embracing our Air Force heritage. Carrying messages of goodwill. We will sing forever young and free. We will be an Air Force that inspires confidence.”

Releasing doves and balloons with future Airforce Members

ICAD Polokwane Airshow 2019

International Civil Aviation Day was celebrated with an airshow and aviation career expedition at Polokwane’s Gateway International Airport on the 7th December 2019.

Both Friday and Saturday saw talks from both aviation community members from the civil aviation authority, South African Airforce, Flight schools and much more.

SAAF Ammunition display

Capital sounds provided commentary from both Brian Emmenis and Elvis Manene on the afternoons aircraft lineup. Rikus Erasmus, Lieutenant Colonel Francois “Hosepipe” Hanekom were in charge of being airshow safety directors, while Cliff Lotter was ramp director.

Paramount Group SF260

The show opened with Major Rehan “Kaine” Venter displaying the 85 Combat Flying School Hawk Mk120 ‘vlaggie’ Flag hawk 271,as he has become the squadrons new display pilot for next years airshow season.

Hawk MK120 flown by Kaine

The Magni Gyro Copter was up next with Andre van Zyl showing off the aircrafts great abilities . Another helicopter was displayed by the South African Police Airwings H125 Squirrel, with members of the task force reacting a tasking scene.

Little Annie An2 flown by Jon Marc Hill dropped Skydivers from adventure skydive and gave a flat display, showing the tight handling capabilities of the world’s biggest bi plane.

Unfortunately due to the bad wet weather on the weekend alot of aircraft couldnt get to Polokwane.Well done for the great effort the CAA and other stakeholders put into the event!

Paramount Group Static Display

Paramount Group Impala MKI Static
Paramount Group Mirage F1AZ Statc Display
Paramount Group Gazzelle static display

ICAD Polokwane Airshow -set for this Saturday 7th December 2019

Saturday 7th December will see the International Civil Aviation Day taking place at Polokwane International Airport in the Limpopo province. This particular event will also see an airshow taking place with both civilian and South African Airforce types.

Goodyear Eagles Pitts S2B

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula will be making a keynote address at the International Civil Aviation day Commemoration. ICAD 2019 will be attracting over 1600 learners from around the Limpopo Province to the event.

ICAD 2019

Two airshow favourites from the SAAF side, The Hawk MK120 from 85 Combat Flying School and a Gripen from 2 Squadron will be displayed at the show on Saturday, as well as other types of the likes of the Goodyear Eagles Pitts, Flying Lions, Team Extreme, Little Annie and much more!

Hawk MK120 from 85 Combat Flying School
a Gripen from 2 Squadron

The show is free to the public and the flying displays start at 10am.

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

“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