Tag Archives: AFB Swartkop

Chief of The SAAF Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang Retreat Parade

A rather sad day to be at Air force Base Swartkop on the afternoon of the last day of September 2020,cuddled around a number of cumulonimbus clouds kept their distance as a final retreat parade could take place with a magnificent background as the Chief of the South African Air Force retired.  


Lieutenant General Fabian “BlackHawk” Zimpande (Zakes) Msimang,a former operational helicopter pilots on various types of SAAF Helicopters he flew during his time,including MI8,MI25,Alouette III and Oryx Helicopters just to name a few.

On 28 September 2012,Msimang was appointed the new Chief of the South African Airforce as Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano retired from the SAAF.


As we all know,Covid-19 has all hit us all hard,this cancelling a number of events such as airshows in the aviation industry and most important celebrating the SAAFs centenary,with the cancellation of Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD2020),we could not have a 100 year celebration airshow taking into consideration of being the world’s second oldest air force after the Royal Airforce (RAF).And yes the Chief and the Deputy Chief Major General Innocent Buthelezi mentioned we are the second oldest air force in the world!

By 5pm a number of SAAF aircraft including helicopters and fixed wing assets took to the skies around the Pretoria area.Before the outgoing Chief opened the flypasts flying the Alouette III part of the South African Air force Museum.

The next elements of the flypast columns included the De Havilland Vampire T55,flown by Rama “Dynamite”Iyer and Vladimir “Spoetnik” Schultz.The Museums Aerospatiale Puma SA330 and Alouette II closely followed behind.

SAAF Museum De Havilland Vampire T55
SAAF Museum De Havilland Vampire T55
SAAF Museum Aerospatiale Puma & Alouette II

The big chopper formation was soon over Snake Valley led by a 16 Squadron Rooivalk Attack Helicopter,flanked by various helicopters from squadrons across South Africa,including two Lynx Mk 64 Helicopters all the way from AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town,A number of Agusta A109LUHs and Oryx Helicopters also formed part of the formation.
The former school master of the sky the Harvard formation including Two Museum Harvards and two Harvard Club aircraft were next over the podium.

Mass Helicopter Formation
Rooivalk,Lynx MK 64,Oryx & Agusta A109LUH
Mass Helicopter Formation
SAAF Museum & Harvard Club (Harvard Formation)
SAAF Museum & Harvard Club (Harvard Formation)

The Lycoming formation were next with a Cessna C185,a Kudu and a Bosbok making up for the taildragger aircraft in the museum fleet.41 Squadron put on a tight formation with a leading Pilatus PC12,Two KingAirs and five Cessna 208A Caravans.

SAAF Museum Cessna C185,Kudu & Bosbok
41 Squadron Pilatus PC12
41 Squadron Formation
41 Squadron Formation

Pelican Formation was next with a 35 Squadron C47TP Turbo Dakota,while a 44 Squadron Casa 212 kept tightly behind the Daks 6 o’clock position.Open the gates its 28 Squadron with Two C130BZ Hercules Transport aircraft in formation with four Central Flying School Pilatus PC-7 MKII ab initio trainers.

35 Squadron C47TP & 44 Squadron Casa 212
35 Squadron C47TP
C130BZs & Pilatus PC7MKIIs
C130BZs & Pilatus PC7MKIIs

The last flypast was the combat formation consisting of two 2 Squadron JAS39 Gripens and four Hawks from 85 Combat Flying School.The formation was led by Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper.
As the parade continued with a change of command tradition,a flag setting.

Gripen & Hawk Formation
Gripen & Hawk Formation

The South African Air Force band entertained the VIP Guests and members of the SAAF and Media. The surprise flypast of a Gripen from, behind the seated guests pitched up into the dark sky while releasing flares.Surely presented the chief with a final loud and spectacular goodbye.

Gripen Flare drop

Attending the after function,where we were kindly invited by the outgoing chief,it came time to give one final speech with tears in his eyes “he mentioned to be in an Air Force that Inspires Confidence we need to be confident in ourselves.Since I started here,I have always believed that you,each of you,are more capable.I believed and still do that you have the capacity to make this organisation into something bigger than what it was.”

We were treated to a delicious dinner and cold beverages before leaving the base,well done to all involved in making the final event for the chief a success.


We would like to wish the former chief of the South African Air force all the best for his future and a restful retirement,we’d like to take the time to thank you for making the time for us and giving us the opportunities that some didn’t have.
We thank you sir.

Video Below

Click on photo below to enlarge

COVID Aviation Trips – SAAF Museum Swartkop

By now most of us have been absolutely deprived of aviation. Unfortunately all airshows for 2020 have been either postponed or cancelled. This leaves us with almost no aviation action, or does it?

In the coming weeks, we will be looking at different smaller aviation spots that can help scratch that aviation itch that has been annoying us all during this lockdown.

In the second installment of this series we’ll be looking at the Swartkop, South African Air force (SAAF) Museum branch. With the museum opening to the public on the 1st of October 2020, this makes for another spot where aviation enthusiast can experience some aviation action.

The SAAF Museum hosts many ex-SAAF aircraft ranging from Impalas to Cheetahs and Alouette to Puma. The hangars bare host to most of the museum’s static aircraft.

At time of writing the museum will only be open to the public on Mondays to Thursday from 08h30 to 14h00. When we will see Saturday Flight Training days again is not yet known, but pilots that have not flown since the beginning of Lockdown have been flying in the weeks so there is always a chance of seeing some aircraft in the air as well.

We look forward to spending some time at the museum again soon. As always, entry to the museum is free, but a donation goes a long way towards preserving our aviation heritage.

“We take and we give”- Memories of 60 Squadron

60 Squadron SAAF is a squadron of the South African Air Force. It is a transport, aerial refuelling and EW/ELINT squadron. It was first formed at Nairobi in December 1940. During its first years the squadron flew the British Aircraft Double Eagle, Martin Maryland, de Havilland Mosquito, and the Lockheed Ventura.

The South African Airforces 60 Squadron came into existence upon thr renumbering of 62 survey Squadron on 29 December 1940.Completion of the survey around Garissa in Kenya started by its prescessor was the units first priority,then tasking being completed shortly before the BA Double Eagle was grounded for a major overhaul.With Both Ansons the aircraft had on strength were also grounded for maintaince and the need for spares in South Africa at the time.

BA Double Eagle

60 Squadrons lamentable state was to be reminded with the arrival of a third Anson to the Squadron from the Union on 17 January when serial number 1107 touched down in Kenya Nairobi.

Avro Anson

In June 1946 the unit was designated to a Medium Bomber Squadron and re-established at Airforce Station Zwartkop on the 21 August, known today as Airforce Base Swartkop, home to 17 Squadron a helicopter unit and the South African Airforce Museum Heritage Flight.

This was the time the Squadron were operating under the control of number 3 Bomber Wing with Lockheed B-34 Ventura’s on their strength. At least six of the De Havilland Mosquitoes are known to have been passed onto the bombing command.

Lockheed B-34 Ventura
De Havilland Mosquitoe

Tasks under taken included survey work in the Eastern Cape, by a C47 Dakota detachment at Port Alfred in 1949 and a similar exercise in Cape Town during the time’s of the 1950s.

C47 Dakota

The acquisition of three Boeing 707s in March 1982 was the culmination of a ten year project undertaken to provide the SAAF with a dedicated air-to-air refueling and electronic warfare capability and it fell to 60 Squadron to assume the mantle of responsibility for this function when the unit was reformed at Airforce Base Waterkloof in Pretoria on July 16 1986 following the aircraft’s modernisation and modification programme.

Boeing 707

A further two Boeing 707s were subsequently acquired while the task of maintaining the SAAFs electronic warfare and early warning capabilities were added to the units primary responsibility.

Boeing 707

The Squadron provided highly effective ‘force multiplayer’ to 1 Squadron Mirage F1AZs until the F1AZ retirement in in November 1997.The squadron was still a vital asset to 2 Squadrons Cheetah C and D variants until 60 Squadron was disbanded and the retirement of the 707 from SAAF use in 2007.

2 Squadron Cheetah D Refuelling

The Squadrons contribution was rewarded with its colours during a parade at Airforce Base Waterkloof on 7 October1994.The following year the squadron record another first for the SAAF when it displayed a Boeing 707 at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom.

Swedish Gripens tank on the then newly painted 60 Squadron Boeing 707

Today a Retired 60 Squadron Boeing 707 tail number 1419 can be viewed at Airforce Base Swartkop on monthly flying days and airshows.

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

SAAF Museum Flying Day 1 February 2020

The First flight training day for the year 2020 at Airforce Base Swartkop was different this year, it was the South African Airforce’s birthday, which was founded on the 1 February 1920.

Museum Alouette III

With the Prestige Day parade held the day before at Airforce Base Swartkop, many of the aircraft that took part in the mass flypast were present and gave the visiting public a glance at both static and departing aircraft returing to their home bases across South Africa.

22 Squadron Super Lynx

The Usual museum aircraft such as the many Museum Harvards, Patchen Explorer, Cessna C185, Kudu and Alouette II, III as well as the Puma continued with currency flights in between display slots.

SAAF Museum Harvard’s
SAAF Museum Cessna C185

Friends of the SAAF Museum sold Boere Wors Rolls, Refreshments and held guided tours of the airforce heritage displays located on the base premises.The windsock Café was also open for cool and hot refrements throughout the day.

The days proceedings started with a short display by a 35 Squadron C47TP Martime Dakota from AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town. Major Paul “Raccoon” Kempthorn flew one of the best Rooivalk displays that we have witnessed in a long time.

35 Squadron C47TP
16 Squadron Rooivalk
16 Squadron Rooivalk

The Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team 84 led by new team lead Major Sivu Tangana showed off the tight formation aerobatics of four Pilatus PC7MKIIs.

Silver Falcons
Pilatus PC7MKII

Two Cessna C208A Caravans from 41 Squadron, who operates out of neighbouring Airforce Base Waterkloof, gave a short formation display. Major Rehan “Kaine” Venter flew his second airshow display as he is now the new Hawk display pilot for 85 Combat Flying School.

41 Squadron Cessna C208A Caravans
85 Combat Flying School Hawk MK120
85 Combat Flying School Hawk MK120
2 Squadron JAS39C Gripen

Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper flew a great display in the JAS39C Gripen before heading back to Airforce Base Makhado in the Limpopo Province.

2 Squadron JAS39C Gripen

The Museum Helicopter assets including the Alouettes II and IIIs closed the flying day with their helicopter display, with a big chance of seeing them do it again on 9th May 2020 at The SAAF Museum Airshow.

SAAF Museum Puma & Alouette III
SAAF Museum Alouette III

Well done to the Museum staff and AFB Swartkop on providing a different flying day as a gift to the public on the South African Airforce Birthday!

Please Browse through our Gallery Below!

Public Welcome at Prestige Day 2020

Breaking News-Public welcome at Prestige Day Parade 31 January 2020

Some exciting news for the public of South Africa to join at this year’s Prestige Day Airforce Day at AFB Swartkop in Pretoria on 31 January 2020.This special occasion will be celebrating 100 years of South African Airforce Airpower through 25 years of Democracy!

A wide variety of current and ex South African Airforce aircraft will be flying during the day. Please take note this is not an Airshow and their will not be any vendors available also during the course of the day. Members of the public are welcome to bring their own food but no alcohol will be allowed on the base.

Gates open at 7H45am and Close at 9H30am for the duration of the prestige day proceedings. The public will need to enter from the northern gate at Airforce Base Swartkop and parking will be available at the northern gate until such time parking gets full, the puplic will have to park outside the base.Also take note Bays Hill will be closed on the day.There will be no movement during the parade!

We look forward to this event. More information will follow days leading to Prestige day!

Note not an Airshow, but flypasts!

SAAF Museum Airshow Youth Development Program 6 September 2019

The South African Airforce Museum Airshow 2019 hosted a Youth Development program on the Friday before the show the following day. One of the exhibit hangers to be precise, Hanger 4 was furnished into a career hall where the youth could get involved and put into the aerospace world with lots of information from all different forms of aviation from the South African Airforce, Private Flight Schools and other aerospace industry’s including Paramount Group, Civil Aviation Authority, Denel and Mango Airlines.


At the same time, learners from different schools got to witness some validation flying from both the SAAF and civilian aircraft that were taking part in the show the following day. This also encouraged learners to be back at the base the next day for the airshow. The enthusiasm from learners expression are sure to be going into the right career path, as the future will have future aviators, technicians and ATCs. 

SAAF Hawk MK120 during a validation flight
Rand Airport based Extra 300 duo

Learners got to have a small piece of flying an aircraft with the SAAFs Impala MKI Flight simulator, where they got to taste the thrill of flying a fast jet.

Impala MKI Simulator
Future Aviator


The Museums display halls were also open for the learners to visit the past SAAF aircraft that are preserved by the museum and friends of the museum. Learners were also informed on the development on locally manufactured aircraft including the Cheetah and Rooivalk projects. 
These days surely invest in our youth in South Africa and will surely make a mark in encouraging the youth to get involved with Aviation. 2020 will be a bigger year for Aviation in South Africa and in the SAAF as our Airforce turns 100 years old.

SAAF Museum P51D Mustang “Pasty Dawn”
Silver Falcons PC7MKII

Click on the link below of the days SAAF Museum Airshow Youth Development Program 6 September 2019

https://youtu.be/iGL6VKef-c4

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SAAF Museum Airshow Saturday 7 September 2019 Programme

Please take note that aircraft can withdraw from the program at any point due to serviceability & operational requirements and weather!

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A Moment Time Stood Still-Air Force Base Swartkop

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

The Past..

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

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

Photo of Swartkop taken 1935

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

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

One of the oldest ATC Towers In South Africa

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

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

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

SAAF Memorial Bays Hill

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

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

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

SAAF Insignia 1921–1927
SAAF Insignia 2004-Present

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

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

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

The Museums Spitfire in her former glory days

Airshows at AFB Swartkop over the years..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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P51D “Mustang Sally” To Return to SAAF Museum Airshow

Well known businessman and airshow display pilot Menno Parsons will be bringing his P51D Mustang to this years SAAF Museum Airshow on the 7th September 2019,at Airforce Base Swartkop in the city of Tshwane.

Days remaining the 2019 Swartkop airshow!

The P51D “Mustang Sally” is the only type of its kind airworthy in South Africa, this attractive looking warbird last flew at the SAAF Museum Airshow in 2015.

P51D ‘Mustang Sally’

The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is an American long-range, dual-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War, among other conflicts. The Mustang was designed in 1940 by North American Aviation in response to a requirement of the British Purchasing Commission.

The theme for the 2019 Airshow is “Collective Heritage” Tickets will be on sale via Computicket.
Tickets this year will cost R80 over the age of 16, ages 12 to 16 will be R30 and under the age of 12 free.

More information of the SAAF Museum Airshow will follow soon. Remember this will be the only airshow in the Pretoria, Johannesburg region this year!

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Ticket Prices for the SAAF Museum Airshow 7th September 2019

Venue- AFB Swartkop,City of Tshwane

R80 (Adults)

R30 Age groups between (12 -16)

Under 12 free

Tickets available at Computicket

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