Tag Archives: Gripen

First Brazilian Saab Gripen E Arrives in Brazil

The first Brazilian Saab Gripen E single-seat fighter aircraft has arrived in Brazil on Sunday, September 20, Saab announced.

The aircraft arrived through sea after been shipped from Norrköping in Sweden.

The first Brazilian Gripen is a test aircraft (39-6001, tail number FAB4100) and has been flying in Sweden since its maiden flight on August 26, 2019. In September that year, the aircraft arrived to start the flight test programme for flight envelope expansion as well as testing of tactical system and sensors.

Brazil has ordered 28 Gripen E single-seat jets that will be delivered to Brazil starting from 2021 and eight Gripen F twin-seat jets, starting from 2023. Saab is to building first 13 aircraft at its facility in Linköping, Sweden, while the remaining 23 will be built in Brazil.

Earlier this year, Saab  performed the fist metal cut for the first Brazilian Gripen F, marking an important milestone in the program. The first part was manufactured recently at Saab’s facilities in Linköping, Sweden and is for the air duct section, just behind the cockpit of the aircraft.

Saab Aeronáutica Montagens (SAM) in Brazil, Saab’s first aerostructures plant outside of Sweden for the Gripen E/F, has recently announced the start of production in support of the program. This site builds sections of Gripen, which will then be delivered to the final assembly facilities at the Embraer plant in Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo, Brazil and to Linköping, Sweden.

The tail cone and front fuselage of the single-seat version of the Gripen fighter (Gripen E) are the first aerostructures to enter into production at SAM. Subsequently, the aerodynamic brakes, rear fuselage, wing box and front fuselage for the two-seater version will also be manufactured at SAM.

Gripen fighter aircraft for Croatia

On 9 September 2020, the Swedish government sent its proposal for twelve new Saab JAS39C and JAS39D Gripen fighter aircraft to Croatia. The Swedish embassy in Croatia and the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) handed over the government-to-government proposal.

The Hrvatske Zračne Snage (Croatian Air Force) is looking to replace its long plagued MiG-21 fleet. Initially, Croatia purchased an upgrade for its MiG-21s plus some additional MiG-21bis from UkrSpetsExport and Odesaviaremservice in Odessa (Ukraine), but, some time after delivery, Croatia found that four of the five aircraft had falsified documents and parts installed.

These four aircraft were declared unreliable and unsafe to operate and were withdrawn from use. Now only four MiG-21bis and four MiG-21UM two-seaters remain airworthy. The Minister of Defence announced the MiG-21 fleet will be obsolete in 2023/2024 because of the remaining flight hours and available spare parts dwindling.In 2018, Croatia decided to opt for twelve F-16 Barak aircraft from Israel over the quotation from the USA. The deal was blocked by the United States, as the US government has an end-user-agreement for the Israeli F-16s and they must approve the sale of any of its aircraft that are up for sale to a third party.

Israel requested such an approval, but this request was denied.Croatian media reported that a new Request for Proposal (RFP) was sent to seven countries: USA for new F-16s, Sweden for new Gripens, Greece/Israel/Norway for secondhand F-16s, Italy for used EF2000s and France for used Rafales.

The deadline for sending in bids was 7 May 2020. A decision was expected around August and the contract was to be signed before the end of this year. But this will likely be delayed because of COVID-19.Sweden has submitted an official proposal and officially announced the offer also includes a custom made strategic cooperation package, which would boost the Croatian defence industry, and benefit Croatian security by building a long-term partnership with strategic sectors. It is not known if the other countries have submitted their bids to Croatia or if Sweden is the only country that made a proposal.

2 Squadron Gains Two New Gripen Pilots

Air force Base Makhado situated in the shadows of the Soutpansberg mountain range,is home to fighter town South Africa.Where the South African Airforces elite fighter squadrons are based,85 Combat Flying School flying the lead in fighter trainer the Hawk MK120.2 Squadron which is the sharp end of the SAAF,flying the smart fighter,The JAS39 Gripen!

Early May 2020 saw two new Gripen pilots going solo,Major Jabulani “Cyrax” Mabona and Captain Klyde “Ronin” Ross Naidoo. Their story below will show the hard work one has to take to get to Gripen and living the fast jet life dream.

Jabulani “Cyrax” Mabona

Major Jabulani Mabona was born in a township called Mamelodi West, Pretoria East. He attended Primary school at Ndima PrimarySchool (year) and matriculated at Vukani Mawethu Secondary School in 2004.
Major Mabona became interested in being a pilot when he was 9 years old. “There was no other career that I considered pursuing apart from becoming a pilot, specifically a fighter pilot.” He started applying when he was doing grade 11 and only got an acceptance letter to do the selection process in 2006.

The selection process included psychometric tests, psychomotor tests, flight medicals followed by interviews. His military career began when he was accepted to commence his Basic Military training in January 2007 and right after a successful completion commenced with Officers Forming Course in July the same year.

In 2008 he enrolled at the SA Military Academy in Saldanha, he spent a year studying Technology and Defence Mangement, which included modules in Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, English, Management, Aerodynamics and Economics. In 2009 January he had to go through Land and Sea Survival Training followed by Ground School Training for flying. In 2010 he started with his basic Ab initio Training in Cessna 172, followed by Astra stationed at AFB Langebaanweg. He was then selected to complete his pilot training in the United States of America where he flew the Texan T6 and qualified as a military pilot giving him the opportunity to be selected to fly Jets.

Jabulani was trained by former United States Air force F16 Viper Demonstration pilot Captain John “Rain” Waters.

Babcock Flight School Cessna C172
Babcock Flight School Cessna C172
Central Flying School Pilatus PC7MKII
Central Flying School Pilatus PC7MKII
US Airforce T6 Texan II
US Airforce T6 Texan II
Former United States Airforce F16 Viper display Demo Pilot Captain
John “Rain” Waters who was Major Mabona’s Instructor!
United States Airforce F16 Viper

In 2012 he went back to Military Academy to complete his degree in Defence and Technology Management which he successfully completed in 2015. In 2016 he was transferred to 85 Combat Flying School where he began to train as a fighter pilot in Hawk MK120 and a year later successfully completed the course. He served as a Flight Commander and was selected to do Flight Leaders Course which he completed in December 2019. He was then transferred to 2 Squadron in January 2020 where he began Operational Conversion Course in the SAAB JAS 39 where he currently serves as a Survival officer”.

Jabulani Flying the Hawk MK120 during a capability demo at the 2017 Rand Easter Show,Nasrec Johannesburg.
“Seraph” & “Cyrax” airborne out of AFB Swartkop during the 2018 SAAF Museum Airshow!
Lieutenant Colonel Craig “Shark” Leeson & Jabulani “Cyrax” Mabona during the 2018 SAAF Museum Airshow.

The challenges he encountered were being far from his family and being able to successfully complete each and every phase towards achieving his goal.He has served in the South African Air Force for 13 years has never looked back. While he was stationed at 85 Combat Flying School had the opportunity to serve as a Survival Officer and a Flight Commander.
He says; “my solo flight in a Gripen was such an astounding feeling, a feeling out of this world, especially the supersonic part of the flight.”

SAAB JAS39C Gripen
Gripen Solo Flight
Jabulani after his Gripen solo with Lieutenant Colonel Jaco “Weasel” Labuschagne

Major Mabona is 32 years old and married to Nomsa and together they have a beautiful daughter Njabulo. He says flying high speed jets is such an honor and comes with lots of responsibilities because you fly with live weapons onboard and also fly in close proximity with other jets. He says his family always supported him and they are the ones that are always boosting his confidence level when it comes to his career.
To further on his career, the next step will be Instructor’s Course so that he can also give back to the young men and women which are aspiring to become fighter pilots.

Fighter Formation over AFB Swartkop during the 2019 SAAF Museum Airshow.

Lastly he says “all the instructors that were part of my development for me to become a fighter pilot are my mentors. Before every flight, preparation is key, you go through your procedures, you play the scenarios in your head and most importantly you prepare for all the possible emergencies that you might experience.

Klyde “Ronin” Ross Naidoo

Captain Klyde Ross Naidoo approaches with a plan of crafting an aviation legacy that the South African Air Force (SAAF) and this country can be proud of. When asked to introduce himself Captain Naidoo call sign Ronin said “Born: 17/06/1992 at Westville hospital, residing in Reservoir Hills initially, turn 5 and started school at Resmount Primary School.

We moved to Pinetown and I moved to Atholl Heights Primary School for grade 1 and 2, my dad then moved to Johannesburg for work and we followed, staying in Centurion and completing primary school in Laerskool Uitsig, moved to Hoerskool Uitsig followed by Pro Arte Alphen Park and finally completing my high school career at Reservoir Hills Secondary School in 2009.

In my childhood we spent a lot of time moving to new places and schools due to my dad’s, Kuban Naidoo, work in telecommunications. My mum, Ron Naidoo, is now a retired hairdresser and in my unbiased opinion is the best hairdresser in the world. I have two older sisters, Kelly and Robyn, who are great support, throughout my childhood and adult life, although the role of my super fan falls to my mum.

Growing up I spent a lot of time playing sports for schools, such as swimming, played competitively in rugby, cricket and softball. Presently I spend a lot of time at the gym and try to keep fit by running. The scariest thing I’ve done was the big swing at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, I consider bungee jumping from Bloukrans Bridge in Tsitsikama rainforest to have been easier. The most exciting thing I’ve done professionally thus far is when I took up a Gripen solo and broke the sound barrier sending down a bone rattling sonic boom over my awaiting wife.”

From an avid nomadic, together with his family, his military career is a gift that he does not take for granted. “At the end of my schooling career I sought out bursaries in order to study further in the fields of engineering or medicine as well as applying for pilot training in the SAAF. In 2010 upon receiving the call for pilots’ selections in the SAAF I had declined the bursaries I was offered for the other fields of studies, not realising that it was just a selection week and not actually accepted.

The SAAF selection is a four tier selection process, each eliminating potential candidates as you progress through. The first part is the paper selection, wherein you either download the form from the internet, or cut it out the newspaper it appears in early every year. Submitting the required information in the leaflet with all matric/ grade 11 results all the applications go to SAAF HQ and are scrutinized to select the best candidates for the job, once that process is completed, the successful candidates are contacted by to make arrangements to attend a week long selection camp.
At the second-tier process, all members are split into groups and go through a process of psychometric and psychomotor testing.
In the third process, a full flight medical examination is required.
The final step is a panel interview in front of high-ranking specialists at the SAAF HQ.

Although a long process, it is to allow only the best candidates to make it through to the training, from initial paper selection of thousands to only about 20 people being selected and finally only 9 qualifying from pilots’ wings course.” He said.

In January 2011, his humble beginnings in the ranks and military industry proved, thus far to be a firm foundation for the amazing military aviation. “I was called up for Basic Military Training at the SAAF Gym in Hoedspruit. It was a gruelling 6 months – taking a civilian and making a soldier. In June 2011, I started officers forming course at the SAAF College in Pretoria, this involved 6 months of cramming policy and standards expected from an Officer and a gentleman.

SAAF Gymnasium

In 2012, I enrolled at the Military Academy in Saldanha. I spent a year studying Technology and Defence Management, which include modules in Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, English, Management, Aerodynamics and Economics, achieving a certificate of higher education.
Before advancing to Langebaanweg for further training, two weeks of gruelling basic survival training was required, this included sea survival, coastal survival and land survival. The most daunting part of the experience involved the escape and evasion component of land survival training.

In 2013, I started ground school at Langebaanweg and later that year began flying the SAAF PC7 MK2, well known for being the aircraft flown by the Aerobatic Display Team of the SAAF, The Silver Falcons. The course consisted of ground school theoretical training in the following fields:

Pilatus PC7MKII

Aerodynamics (including high speed, rotary wing and multi engine aerodynamics)

Aviation law

Medicine

Aircraft technical

General aspects related to flying and aviation.

The flying training consisted of basic general flying, basic instrument flying, advanced general flying, advanced instrument flying, navigation, close formation and a “Wings Phase” which incorporated aspects from all the preceding ones.

Central Flying School Pilatus PC7MKII

Once all phases were over and all test results were tallied up another selection board is held to stream pilots into one of the three lines in the air force: Maritime and Transport, Helicopter systems or Combat Systems. The directors of the three lines would there decide on the path that each pilot would then follow, taking into consideration the members preference, but ultimately selecting you on your course performance, attitude and perceived potential. I graduated as a pilot in the Air Force in December 2014 and was streamed to the fighter line.” He opined.

While expanding on his career path, formal education was still his goal. He relates that he has a massive respect for education as the SAAF does, and through education and the SAAF he has had fun serving with the most brilliant of minds and continually travels the world. “In 2015, and early 2016, I continued studies toward my degree at the military academy and flying at Langebaanweg whilst waiting to be transferred to 85 Combat Flying School at Air Force Base Makhado.

I, together with 3 other members, moved to Makhado in April 2016 to begin training to become fighter pilots. Which upon arrival was met by another week of survival training exercise in Port Saint Johns, after which we have yearly survival training due to the nature of our job.

Our fighter training was done on the BAE Systems Hawk LIFT Mk120 and the courses consisted of Hawk Conversion Course, a condensed version of what I had done on the PC7 MK2, followed by Operational Training Course. With the ability to fly the aircrafts, we were taught how to use it as a weapon by delivering various ammunitions and being trained in various aspects of Air and Surface warfare, so we could be utilised in operational roles in the SAAF. After a year of consolidation flying, two candidates were selected to complete Flight Leaders Course, Major Jabulani Jerry Mabona and myself. FLC was completed in November 2019.

85 Combat Flying School Hawk MK120 “Gannet”
Armed Forces Day Capability Demonstration De Brug Weapons Range Bloemfontein February 2018
Fighter Formation over AFB Swartkop during the 2019 SAAF Museum Airshow.
SAAF Museum Airshow 2019

As Flight Leaders we were then eligible to be transferred to 2 Squadron and begin Operational Conversion Course on the SAAB JAS39C/D Gripen. I completed my first solo flight in the Gripen on May 5th, 2020, a first for an Indian South African Fighter Pilot.

SAAB JAS39D Gripen

In 2010, I met my wife, Marcia Naidoo, but had only really started speaking too her in 2012, being in the western cape and her in KZN it wasn’t often I got a chance to see her, unless it was a trip home to see the family. We started dating in 2013 and even though had such distance between us the relationship grew to me finally proposing in 2017 and tying the knot in September 2018. Throughout my flying career she’s been a keystone to my support, from not being able to fly a thing to taking to the skies in a modern fighter jet, with all the good and the bad she would be there, either the most excited or ready to throw down with anyone that may have gotten me upset. Although I’m the soldier she’s the tougher of the two of us.

As a youngster I’d always been fascinated by flying, from as early as my second birthday it was evident that I wanted to be a pilot, my parents had gotten me an aircraft cake and dressed me up in a white suit. Being from Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) I didn’t know it was a possibility for me to be an air force fighter pilot, as there’s not much publicity for the defence force in the KZN community. It was by chance that I happened across a leaflet in the newspaper and my mum had made further inquiries. It was only then that I had decided that I was going to be a fighter pilot in the SAAF. Hard work and perseverance will always pay off.”

He was sure adamant to wear the SAAF uniform and inspire confidence, thus he hastens to say that he keeps himself busy with researching on everything that has to do with the latest aviation technology while mastering the art of being a proud fighter pilot. “There’s still a long road ahead of me to complete Operational Conversion Course on the Gripen and becoming the best Fighter pilot at the SAAF. At some stage in the distant future I will go down to Langebaanweg once again and do pilot Instructors’ Course and give training to the future pilots of the SAAF. Thereafter returning to 85 Combat Flying School for pilot attack instructors’ course on the hawk and move over to give instruction to aspiring fighter pilots in training on the Gripen as well.

Hawk MK120 MK82 Bombing run,Roodewal bombing range Limpopo

What I’d like to say to aspiring SAAF pilots is that nothing comes easy, but nothing is impossible, follow the procedures laid out and don’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s often said on courses that individuals don’t pass the course, those who work together, find motivation in themselves and their peers to complete the course together. Work hard in school in physics and maths, be a good person and never stop trying.

Through this journey I’ve seen it doesn’t matter where you come from, what your skin colour is or what school you went to, what matter is the work you put in. I have come from many places but now I am Captain Klyde Ross Naidoo, a fighter pilot in the SAAF.” He concluded

Ice cold bath after Klydes Gripen Solo

Well done to Ronin and Cyrax,we wish you many more happy and safe flying hours,from all of us at Aviation Central.

Completion of Gripen solo and traditional ice cold bath at 2 Squadron

Address by Commander-In-Chief, President Cyril Ramaphosa on the occasion of Armed Forces Day, Polokwane, Limpopo

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula,
Premier of Limpopo Province, Mr Stanley Mathabatha,
Ministers of Defence from fraternal countries,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
MECs,
Mayor of Polokwane and Councillors,
Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube,
Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Solly Shoke,
Members of the Military Command Council, 
Generals, Admirals, Officers and Officials,
Non-Commissioned Officers,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Soldiers on Parade,
Military Veterans,
Distinguished Guests,

Fellow South Africans,

As the Commander-in-Chief of the South African National Defence Force, it is my privilege to be here today to honour our women and men in uniform.

Armed Forces Day is commemorated annually to pay tribute to the soldiers who perished in the English Channel in 1917 on board the SS Mendi during the First World War.

We honour the women and men who protect our borders, and those who have gone before who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of our nation. 

We are proud of the progress we have made in ensuring that from the disparate apartheid-era armed forces a single, united, uniquely South African National Defence Force has emerged.

The SANDF is an enduring symbol of our rainbow nation, and includes in its ranks black and white, men and women.

Through loyalty and discipline, in defending our territorial integrity and sovereignty, though your involvement in conflict resolution and peacemaking efforts on the continent, and through your heroic roles during natural disasters both at home and in our neighboring countries, the SANDF indeed makes us proud to be South African.

Only ten days ago, we commemorated the 30th anniversary of the release of the SANDF’s first Commander-in-Chief, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. 

We should not forget that historic day, which dramatically changed our country’s political trajectory and led to the peaceful transition to democracy and which brought the SANDF into existence.

We mark Armed Forces Day this year at a time when South Africa has assumed the chairship of the African Union for 2020. 

This is a great responsibility to lead our continent towards the peace, unity and prosperity envisaged many years ago by our forebears like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba, Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Thomas Sankara and Kenneth Kaunda.

In May this year, South Africa will host the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the AU on ‘Silencing the Guns’, one of the pillars of the AU’s Agenda 2063.

This Summit will provide an opportunity to assess the implementation of the AU Master Roadmap, and at the same time respond to emerging developments on the African peace and security landscape. 

As a continent, we have set milestones towards the attainment of a better and safer continent for all Africans, but our progress remains mixed.

Conflict continues in several African countries, undermining our collective efforts to achieve peace and security.

South Africa looks to the SANDF to assist us to meet our obligations with regards to supporting continental peace and security.

On this 2020 Armed Forces Day, we remember all the heroes and heroines in the SANDF who serve us without any expectation of reward, and who put their lives on the line to serve their country and their continent. 

In our quest to Silence the Guns, we acknowledge the enduring challenges of armed conflict in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, in North Africa, in the Sahel, in the Horn of Africa and in the Great Lakes region.

We count on the SANDF as an organ mandated by the AU and the UN respectively to discharge the important responsibility of promoting peace.

I commend our soldiers for staying true to this cause despite the many challenges they face. 

On this Armed Forces Day, we show appreciation for the service rendered by our soldiers, who despite limited numbers, ensure that the 4,800 kilometres of our vast border is patrolled. 

The companies deployed along the South Africa border with Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique continue to make great strides in curtailing illegal actions in their areas of responsibility. 

These men and women do remarkable work in safeguarding our borders and in assisting the South African Police Service with crime prevention. 

We commend them, knowing that the vast stretch of our border requires far more resources on the ground.

As a nation, we owe a great debt of appreciation to our National Defence Force for being not just a fighting force, but a developmental force.

Across our country, we have seen the SANDF render essential services through the deployment of health professionals at public health facilities that are in crisis.

We have seen our men and women in uniform repair sewage infrastructure along the Vaal River and in the North West.

Our forces have built bridges in rural areas to give isolated communities access to places and services they would not be able to reach otherwise.

And our forces are active in fire-fighting as well as mountain and maritime search-and-rescue operations.

In undertaking these diverse programmes, the South African National Defence Force draws on the talents and energy of young South Africans.

The Military Skills Development System is an important front in our nation’s battle against youth unemployment.

I am therefore pleased that the programme for the 2020 Armed Forces Day included a military careers showcase.

I hope that young people who wish to develop themselves and grow South Africa will embrace these opportunities through which they will make an important contribution to the security and sustainability of our nation.

We recognise that we have come a long way in the past 25 years. 

We have to continue growing our defence industry, especially as it makes a significant contribution in the country’s economy. 

To strengthen the relationship between the defence industry and the armed forces, we have launched the National Defence Industry Council. 

This development aims to support the defence industry with export opportunities while also meeting the SANDF’s material needs. 

We have also launched the Defence Industry Fund, with the objective of growing the local defence industry and servicing the SANDF and external clients. 

We are starting to see the fruits of this intervention in our military. 

Our Armaments Corporation, Armscor, is also integrally involved in these processes and continues to provide major acquisition and project management capabilities. 

South Africans should be proud that their military is providing opportunities to small businesses and contributing to the stimulation of local economies where bases are situated. 

This we have done through Project Koba-Tlala. 

To this effect, the SANDF has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Small Business Development to raise the department’s spend on small and medium enterprises from 30% to 50%, and create a lifeline for start-ups and budding entrepreneurs. 

I challenge you to ensure that women-owned businesses access a significant chunk of this procurement in line with the call by the AU for the allocation of at least 25% of public procurement to women-owned businesses, instead of the current 1%. 

Compatriots,

I want to commend Minister Mapisa-Nqakula for establishing the Ministerial Task Team against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the military. 

The Task Team is currently hard at work to rid our military of incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse, which go against the grain of our military ethos and character, and which violate the very principles on which our democracy is founded. 

These are steps in the right direction to address the disgraceful behaviour of a few men and which will give weight to our efforts to end violence against women on our continent.

During our tenure as African Union chair, we will make the adoption of the AU Convention on Violence Against Women a priority, and urge member states to ratify international protocols that outlaw gender discrimination. 

The global climate crisis threatens our continent more than most, contributing to resource scarcity and instability.

It has the potential to aggravate security issues. 

As Chair of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, I will ensure that South Africa prioritises mitigation, adaptation and support. 

As Commander-in-Chief, I will keenly follow the initiative that the Defence Minister took with the campaign to ‘Plant Trees Not Bombs’ in Durban in November 2019. 

The UN Under-Secretary-General, Fabrizio Drummond, was also part of this initiative and urged UN members to plant 75 million trees as part of mitigating climate change, also in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN. 

I urge the SANDF to expand this initiative in partnership with other government entities.

As I conclude, I wish to pay tribute to one of our own, the late Chief of the South African Army, Lt-Gen Thabiso Mokhosi, who we laid to rest in December 2019. 

He would have been with us today. 

In his memory, let us continue serving this country loyally, and redouble our efforts to ensure that South Africans feel safe and remain safe.

I thank you.

2 Squadron Gripens to open SONA 2020

The sharp end of the South African Airforce 2 Squadron flying the SAAB JAS39 C and D variants of the Gripen will be opening the State of the Nation Address by the commanding chief South African president Cyril Ramaposa.

Proceedings are set to take place at 19H00 on the evening of 13 February at Palamentary House in Cape Town this coming Thursday.

The Parliament of South Africa is South Africa’s legislature; under the present Constitution of South Africa, the bicameral Parliament comprises a National Assembly and a National Council of Provinces. The current twenty-seventh Parliament was first convened on 22 May 2019

2 Squadron is based at Airforce Base Makhado in the Northern Limpopo Province and led by Officer Commanding of 2 Squadron Lieutenant Colonel Josias “Boerboel” Mashaba.

In previous SONAs the SAAF have played a mighty role in top cover close air support, air policing and flypasts by both Gripen and the Silver Falcons.

Ladysmith Aviation Career Expo & Airshow 2019

Kwa-Zulu Natal got to see their second airshow in the province this year after Newcastle Airshow during the early period of the South African Airshow calendar . Ladysmith was the chosen airport to host the Aviation Career expo and airshow on the 25th and 26th October 2019,with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) supporting the whole event.

The Ladysmith Airfield goes back many years and with the Ladysmith Hotel in close proximity, the actual hotel was the airfields old terminal building which was opened by Brigadier C.G Ross,C.BE.,D.F.C on the 26th October 1950. The airfield is home to a small flight school and hangers other small aircraft for private use.

Friday 25th October youth from surrounding school in Ladysmith and the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province got to know more about the aviation industry through the help of Civil Aviation Authority providing an Awareness drive to the children with talks by pilots, engineers and getting to network with display pilots in preparation for the following days airshow.

Free to the public was this years Ladysmith airshow, with the South African Airforce Silver Falcons Aerobatic team 83 in formation with Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper in a JAS39D Gripen. Major Omphile Matloane possibly completing his last airshow display as Falcon one as he will be moving on to instruct on helicopters at 87 Helicopter Flying School in Bloemfontein next year.

The Silver Falcons completed their display with two training livery aircraft from, Central Flying School at Airforce Base Langebaanweg in the Western Cape.Falcon 8 Capital Sounds Brian Emmenis produced the commentary for their show and all other display acts of the day.

The three jet display were part of the exciting program with the roar of the might 2 Squadron Gripen in which we saw two different gripens during the course of the day. In the morning we had ‘3905’ JAS39D dual seater and in the afternoon the solo display with ‘3916’ which was again put through its paces by Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper. The Gripen operated out of Airforce Base Waterkloof in Pretoria as made it to Ladysmith within 20 minutes of flight time!

Glen Warden flew the L29 Delphin, an ex eastern block jet trainer and Airlink displayed one of their Embraer E190s which made brilliant photo opportunities as one doesn’t see a airliner fly in Ladysmith everyday .

The Goodyear Eagles Pitts display team flew their four ship display, Team Extreme was present with 3 aircraft and once again showed off their famous knife edge passes before heading back to Rand Airport as large thunder storms closed the show off.

The South African Airforce also had a 17 Squadron Agusta A109LUH on static display. A 44 Squadron Casa 212 flew some of the lucky youth on Saturday morning before the show by Major Nick Green, Major Ashley Naxhe and Flight Saregent Jaques De Kock.

“Little Annie” an Antonov An2 flown by Jon-Marc Hill and Ryan Smith were the jump ship for this show and dropped some of the Adventure Skydiving members, with Ralph Ridge flying South Africa’s biggest flag.

André van Zyl flew his Magni Gyrocopter display and most probably the best Gyrocopter display. André has now displayed both in South Africa,Botswana and recently Mozambique!

Flying Display Director from Airshow South Africa “ASSA” Rickus Erasmus,Safety director Colonel Francois “Hose” Hanekom, Ramp Controller Cliff Lotter and Louise Hofmeyr as airshow programme director.

Well done to Ms Poppy Khoza and her team at the South African Civil Aviation Authority on providing a great variety of aircraft for a CAA Airshow. We look forward to the last show of the year at Polokwane as part of International Civil Aviation Day ‘ICAD’,which will also form part of an airshow.

Bethlehem Airshow 2019

Noted as one of the coldest airshows on the South African Airshow circuit, this years Bethlehem Airshow was definitely the hottest. The Eastern Free State town of Bethlehem hosted their annual airshow and this year was most probably the best they have ever had, with a large variety of aircraft including the South African Airforce making a welcome return.

The Friday before the show, Little Annie an Antonov 2 took local school kids for some of them their first flight in an aircraft around the town of Bethlehem. At the same time many aircraft arrivals and validations took place to be suitable for the following day.

“Little Annie” AN2

Saturday morning we arrived at the airfield to get some sunrise shots of parked aircraft, not long after that we attended the pilots briefing with Dihlabeng Municipal Mayor Lindiwe Makhalema thanking the pilots and wishing them well during the course of the day. Stephen Fourie was the organiser once again of the fantastic show who also briefed the pilots on the days proceedings in conjunction with Lieutenant Colonel Keith “Fulcrum” Fryer as airboss for the show. Lieutenant Colonel Francois “Hosepipe” Hanekom was Flight safety director and Lieutenant Colonel Keith Andrew was ramp director.

The show opened up with the South African Airforce Golden Eagles Parachute Display team, their jump ship was a 44 Squadron Casa 212 with Lieutenant Colonel Sammy “Guru” Mabidikama, Major Ashley “Sensei” Naxhe and loadmaster Flight Sergeant Manny Ramajela at the controls.

44 Squadron Casa 212

The Cows Pitts Specials added an Extra 300 to their display led by Scully Levin, The Goodyear Eagles performed both a four-ship pitts display in the morning show and the afternoon show with a three-ship. A solo aerobatic display by Andrew Blackwood Murray in his Nashua Extra 300 and a Pilatus B4 Glider was flown by Gary Whitecross.Orsmond Aviation provided a Turbo Thrush for aerial spaying demo. A provincial EMS Bell 222 demonstrated a car accident scene showing off the emergency services and the every day call out scenes around South Africa. Another Bell 222 from Henley Air at Rand Airport flown by Andre Coetzee showed off the helicopter skilfully.

Cows Pitts and Extra formation
Goodyear Eagles
Nashua Extra 300
Pilatus B4
Glider Tug Lambada flown by Derek Hopkins
Free state EMS Bell 222
Free state EMS Bell 222
Henley Air Bell 222

The South African Airforce (SAAF) provide the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team flying Pilatus PC7MKIIs with Major Omphile Matolane as lead ,Major Tian Stander at number two, Major Sivu Tangana at three and the soloist Major Bheki Shabungu.

Silver Falcons Team 82
Major Bheki Shabungu does a dirty roll in the Pilatus PC7MKII
Lieutenant Charlene Brown and Captain Xander Albasni made sure the Bethlehem crowds could get their Silver Falcons memorabilia

A 2 Squadron Gripen JAS39D flown all the way from Airforce Base Makhado in the Limpopo province, the squadron demonstrated a flat display by Major Mohau “Dobaman” Vundla and Major Kevin “Safron” Chetty as his navigator. This was the first appearance of a Gripen in Bethlehem. An Agusta A109LUH from 87 Helicopter Flying School in Bloemfontein, which was on static display among some of the other visiting civilian static aircraft. Adding to the jet action Pierre Gouws flew Richard Lovett’s Aero L39 and also led the Raptor RVs.

2 Squadron JAS39D Gripen
2 Squadron JAS39D Gripen
Agusta A109LUH
Aero L39 Albatross
Raptors RVs

Andre Van Zyl displayed the Magni Gyrocopter to its full potential Radials were a common sound at this years show with Little Annie An2 flown by Jon Marc-Hill and Juba Jourbert dropping skydivers and later joining up with Ivan Van der Schaar in his Boeing Stearman for a formation display and both their singleton displays. The Puma Flying Lions led once again by Scully Levin flew their three-ship routine .Menno Parson’s Douglas Dc3 gave a brief display flown by Derek Hopkins and Ivan van der Schaar. Menno displayed his popular and only flying P51D Mustang in South Africa. SAA Pilot Trevor Warner also gave a Solo Rv7 display, this being the most homebuilt aircraft in the world.

Magni Gyro
Radial Formation An2 & Boeing Stearman
Douglas DC3
Puma Flying Lions
P51D “Mustang Sally”
P51D “Mustang Sally”
RV7

Capital Sounds provided commentary to both the display line in front of the crowd line, behind the crowd line and by the aircraft parking area across the tar runway at Bethlehem. Brian Emmenis, Leon Du Plessis and Elvis Manene kept the crowds posted on each display on the day.

Menno Parsons & Capital Sounds Brian Emmenis
Silver Falcon Major Sivu Tangana & Capital Sounds Elvis Manene

Bethlehem Airshow well done on a fantastic show this year, to all the organisers, display pilots and ground crews on making the show safe and successful. Looking forward to next years show already.

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Silver Falcons Ready for Annual Bethlehem Airshow 2019 this weekend

The South African Airforce Silver Falcons Aerobatic team will be making their way to the eastern Free State this Wednesday as they get ready for the Bethlehem Airshow this Saturday the 24th August 2019.The aircraft and crew are based at Air Force Base Langebaanweg in the Western Cape.

The team made up of five Pilatus PC7MKIIs which will grace the skies over Bethlehem. Their last show in Bethlehem was in 2017.The team is lead by Major Omphile Matlone, Major Tian Stander, Major Bheki Shabungu and Major Sivu Tangana. The teams GLO Captain Xander Albasini.

A new member of the team is also in training at the moment and will be made public to the media soon. Other aircraft that will be taking part in the show will be a SAAF Gripen from 2 Squadron,44 Squadron CASA 212 and Oryx/A109 and the Golden Eagles Parachute Display Team.The likes of Little Annie AN2,Puma Flying Lions, Raptor Rvs and a lot more.

2 Squadron Gripen
44 Squadron Casa 212

Bethlehem is a large town in the eastern Free State province of South Africa that is situated on the Liebenbergs river along a fertile valley just north of the Rooiberg Mountains on the N5 road.

Radio Station OFM will be broadcasting live from the spectacular Bethlehem Airshow on Saturday the 24th of August 2019.

Bethlehem Airshow 2019

Venue: Bethlehem Airfield

Date: 24 August 2019 (08:00 – 16:30)

Cost: R70 (adults), R20 (children 3-12), Free (kids under 3);

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I Can Dream – Newcastle Airshow 2019

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I Can Dream – Newcastle Airshow 2019

Newcastle Airshow 2019

All systems are a go for the 2019 ‘I Can Dream’ Newcastle airshow that will be taking place 1 June 2019 at Newcastle airport, Amajuba district.

Since the show first started nine years ago, the theme has been ‘I Can Dream’, “The reason behind this is that people can dream to become pilots or dream that they will also one day have the opportunity to fly in an aircraft. 95% of the local Amajuba community have never flown in an aircraft, while 80% had never seen a Boeing or an Airbus up close”, said Johan Pieters, one of the organisers of the event.

The driving forces behind this year’s event is the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs of KwaZulu Natal and KwaZulu Natal Tourism with the event organisation been handled by the Champ Group of Companies lead by Johan Pieters and Christo van de Vyver.

A major bonus for visitors this year is that there will be no entrance fee to the show. “We had a look at the economic situation of the district and the country and together with our sponsors decided to make it a free airshow for 2019”, said Pieters.

The Newcastle airshow has become one of the largest one-day events in the Amajuba District and boosts the local district and Newcastle by R5 million.

Amongst the many highlights for this year, AON will host an educational guidance day on the day of the airshow. The educational guidance day is geared at Grade 11 math and science learners from the Amajuba district with around some 1000 learners attending. The learners will be addressed by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), The South African Airforce (SAAF) as well as the SAAF Silver Falcons, and will be given the chance to learn more about aviation as well as possible career paths that can be chosen in the various aviation fields.

This year promises to be a jammed-packed day with plenty of activities for the entire family. The show will open at 10:30 with a spectacular Airbus A320 display. For the adrenaline junkies all the action will be found in the sky and visitors can look forward to a fun-filled day, and will see acts from South Africa’s top aerobatic teams, the SAAF will be in full force at this year’s show and visitors will get the chance to see the SAAF Silver Falcons, fast jet action will be the Gripen as well as a SAAF Oryx helicopter will be put through its paces.

For the car-crazy visitors, there will be Hot Rods on display as well as a car and plane race.

For the family members that would prefer to do a little shopping, there will be plenty of stalls, a Munro Art exhibition, as well as various motor vehicle dealerships offering advice on your next vehicle purchase, as well as plenty of food and drink stalls and a beer garden. KZN Tourism will have a virtual reality stand where you can experience KZN live, a stand not to be missed.

For those that would like to view the show from a more VIP point of view this year members of the public can buy VIP Tickets at Computicket for R100 – that ticket will give you an experience in a Marquee with upholstery chairs, shade and VIP toilet. Limited tickets are available.

By the end of the show, which will be around 17:00, if you still have enough energy there will be an after party hosted by Tree Tops.

Newcastle Airshow VIP

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Freedom Day Celebration Flypasts

The sound of thunder of jets rocked Port Elizabeth residents as Gripens, Hawks, The Silver Falcons, two BK117s and Lynx took part in Freedom Flypasts over event in Makhanda, formerly Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape.

The 27th April marked 25 years of democracy, following decades of apartheid rule and segregation in which the majority of the country’s citizens were marginalised.

JAS39D Gripen

Local residents in Grahamstown got to witness the flypasts and brought joy to the youth as some of these aircraft are not usually seen in the area.

The Silver Falcons showed why they can restore national pride as known as the cockpit ambassadors to the South African Airforce. Falcon 5 Sivu Tangana grew up in the area and it was surely a proud moment to display in front of a home crowd.

Silver Falcons Team 82
Silver Falcons

It was also a photo opportunity for some of the local aviation enthusiasts to capture the Test Flight and Development Centre JAS39D Gripen ‘3901’.This was the first gripen delivered to the SAAF.


Test Flight and Development Centre JAS39D Gripen ‘3901
85 Comabt Flying School Hawk MK120 ‘262’
Hawk MK120
Pilatus PC7MKII

We would like to thank Patrick Davidson for allowing us to use a certain platform to gain access to get this incredible photos.

2 Squadron JAS39C Gripen ‘3918’

Another big presence of South African Airforce Aircraft will be seen over Pretoria end of May 2019 and no its not an airshow.Keep an eye on our social media pages.

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