Tag Archives: SAAviationNews

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

At Cruising Altitude in 2019 and Prepared for Turbulence in the Future-Pilatus

Pilatus reported another very successful business year in 2019, exceeding the one billion mark yet again with turnover of approximately 1.1 billion Swiss francs. Operating income totalled 153 million Swiss francs, incoming orders amounted to 1.1 billion Swiss francs. Pilatus staff enjoyed a share in this success with a generous bonus payout – even in the current difficult economic climate.

2019 will go down in the company’s 80 year history as another very successful twelve months overall. The figures were very similar to those reported in 2018. Total aircraft deliveries came in at 134 – 83 PC-12 NGs, 40 PC-24s and 11 PC-21s – the most extensive production programme yet.

Successful PC-24 market launch

The market rollout of the brand-new PC-24 is now complete and Pilatus has well and truly left the build-up phase. 75 PC-24s have been delivered to date and are in use on every continent. The PC-24 with the most hours in the air has already flown over 1,800 hours. The order book re-opened in May last year and demand for the world’s unique Pilatus Super Versatile Jet remains as high as ever. The PC-24 has won prestigious new clients such as Volkswagen and KSA, the Swedish air ambulance service – important milestones in a programme which is still young as yet.

Pilatus PC24

A comprehensive post-certification test campaign was performed in 2019 to have the Super Versatile Jet approved for operations on rough field runways and in other conditions. All PC-24s are now authorised for use on wet and snow-covered unpaved and grass runways. In the same vein, other PC-24 product improvements have been made to eliminate initial teething problems and provide customers with extra added benefits.

Excellent response to the PC-12 NGX

Pilatus launched the PC-12 NGX in autumn 2019: compared to its predecessor, this further development of the world’s best-selling single-engine turboprop in class now boasts an improved engine, smarter avionics and a completely re-designed cabin with larger windows. The new PT6E-67XP engine by Pratt & Whitney Canada is particularly impressive: its electronic propeller and engine control system is a worldwide first in this market segment. After obtaining certification in 2019 and making appropriate changes to the production line, the market launch generated a large number of orders. This month saw the first customers take to the skies aboard their new NGXs.

Pilatus PC12 NGX

Major PC-21 order from Spain

Finalised in 2019 and signed in January 2020, the PC-21 order from Spain is a very important step in securing future operations. From 2021 onwards, Pilatus will deliver a total of 24 PC-21s to the Spanish Air Force, the Ejército del Aire. Spain is the third European air force to opt for this Next Generation Trainer. If the General Aviation Division is indeed heavily impacted by the current economic difficulties, this order will prove essential for Pilatus in terms of providing sufficient activity for the workforce and continued business success for the company. It also demonstrates the importance of the two-pillar strategy – civilian and military business – in guaranteeing future economic viability.

Pilatus PC21

Pilatus delivered the last of a total of 49 PC-21s to the Royal Australian Air Force in November 2019. This delivery – the final one for the time being – brings the worldwide fleet of PC-21s up to a total of 211 aircraft. An impressive figure indeed, and proof that the PC-21 is now the world’s most modern, most efficient training system.

Employee profit-sharing – nothing changes

At 2,289 the number of full-time jobs across the Pilatus Group increased slightly in 2019. The very good figures for the year deliver the most effective means of thanking Pilatus employees: from apprentice through to senior manager, all employees received their personal share in the profits for 2019 as usual. This year’s bonus, paid in April 2020, is equivalent to almost 1.5 times the respective monthly salary. This performance-related employee profit-sharing model is contractually agreed with the company’s own Workforce Committee and has been in place for over 25 years.

Turbulent times in 2020

Pilatus started the year with orders worth over two billion Swiss francs, not including the major order from the Spanish air force. But the corona crisis is bound to leave its mark, and the promising outlook of the early weeks of the year has had to be revised downward. Pilatus was quick to take appropriate countermeasures, including the introduction of short-time work for large numbers of staff. In the meantime, fewer than 20 percent of employees are still affected by this measure. Supply chains remain disrupted, necessitating continuous reassessment of the situation.

Oscar J. Schwenk on 2019 and the future

Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of Pilatus, commented on the annual results as follows: “I am very pleased with our performance in 2019. I note, however, that the corona pandemic has pitched us – and many others – into a period of severe turbulence requiring constant fact-based readjustment of our chosen heading. Every pilot learns how to make the all-important corrections to flight path and altitude. We are doing exactly, reverting to the basics, as taught from the first hours of flight instruction – encompassed in the term good airmanship: aviate, navigate, communicate. In other words, retain control of the business, apply an analytical approach to problems and, finally, define a fact-based plan of action and communication.

Under the leadership of CEO Markus Bucher, I have always tailored my management style to economising during the good times in preparation for the challenges of the future, all the time keeping our feet firmly on the ground – all entrepreneurs know that healthy liquidity comes before everything else! Specifically, that means paying realistic salaries, monitoring fixed costs at all times and distributing profits with prudence. Happily, our investors have supported this sustainable corporate strategy – one which we have deliberately kept free of external loans – for years.

We are not the only ones having to tighten our belts. In a situation which no one could have foreseen, it is reassuring to know that the financial reserves set aside in the past will ensure we are able to navigate the current crisis in preparation for a clean landing and a renewed take-off into the future, together. In the final instance, our business success benefits everyone!”

Leidos, Paramount USA, and Vertex Aerospace team up to pursue U.S. Special Operations Command Armed Overwatch prototype program

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(Reston, Va.) May 4, 2020 – Leidos (NYSE:LDOS), a FORTUNE® 500 science and technology leader, today announced a teaming agreement with Paramount Group USA and Vertex Aerospace to pursue a new contract to deliver the Bronco II, a new purpose-built, multi-mission aircraft. The aircraft will support the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Armed Overwatch program. 

This strategic relationship, with Leidos as the prime contractor and Paramount and Vertex as primary teammates, will combine decades of experience integrating, manufacturing, and delivering cutting-edge airborne solutions to the warfighter.

The Bronco II is a rugged, affordable, and sustainable multi-mission aircraft that will be manufactured in Crestview, Fla. The Leidos offering is built to meet the specific needs of U.S. Special Operations Command.

“Leidos has a long history as a premier provider of airborne solutions,” said Gerry Fasano, Leidos Defense Group president. “The Bronco II demonstrates our commitment to providing the best-of-breed in technology, as well as our agility in meeting the needs of our country’s national security missions. This offering will leverage each company’s expertise to deliver cost-effective innovations for the warfighter.”

“Our collaboration with Vertex and Leidos will present best of capabilities for what will undoubtedly be a critical program to enable U.S Air Force Special Operations Command to deal effectively with the challenges and rigors of modern day asymmetrical warfare,” said Steve Griessel, CEO of Paramount Group USA. “The Bronco II was designed specifically for asymmetrical warfare and will operate at a fraction of the procurement and lifecycle costs of an aircraft with similar mission applications and capabilities.”

“We are proud to team with Leidos and Paramount, as we share a commitment to deliver affordable state-of-the-art capabilities to combat the challenges posed by modern, multi-domain operations,” said Ed Boyington, Vertex Aerospace CEO and President. “With a long track record of delivering excellence to our customers, we look forward to producing and supporting the purpose-built Bronco II aircraft and weapons system as a transformational tool for our warfighters.”

Ahrlac formation at AAD 2018, AFB Waterkloof

Visit www.bronco-usa.com

About Paramount Group USA

Headquartered in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Paramount Group US Inc. is the U.S. entity of the Paramount Group, the global aerospace and technology company, providing fully integrated and turn-key air, maritime, and land solutions. Paramount Group USA is also the parent company of Paramount Aerospace Systems USA, its wholly-owned US subsidiary. Since its inception in 1994, Paramount Group has built strong relationships with governments in more than 30 countries around the world. It is a leading innovator in the design and development of state-of-the-art technologies that it manufactures in locations globally. Please visit paramountgroup.com/usa or follow us on Twitter.

About Vertex

Vertex Aerospace offers a global capability and complete solution for aftermarket aerospace services for government and commercial customers. The Company’s international presence and vast range of services has distinguished itself from competitors for over 45 years. The Mississippi-based company operates in over 100 locations worldwide and is proud to have a 50 percent veteran employee rate. Information about Vertex can be found at vtxaero.com.

About Leidos

Leidos is a Fortune 500® information technology, engineering, and science solutions and services leader working to solve the world’s toughest challenges in the defense, intelligence, homeland security, civil, and health markets. The company’s 36,000 employees support vital missions for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Reston, Va., Leidos reported annual revenues of approximately $11.09 billion for the fiscal year ended January 3, 2020. For more information, visit leidos.com.

Statements in this announcement, other than historical data and information, constitute forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. A number of factors could cause our actual results, performance, achievements, or industry results to be very different from the results, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to, the risk factors set forth in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the period ended January 3, 2020, and other such filings that Leidos makes with the SEC from time to time. Due to such uncertainties and risks, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof.

Two Turkish Airforce Airbus A400Ms Land at Cape Town International Airport

UPDATE: The Turkish Airforce made four appearances delivering medical supplies to Cape Town International in a matter of days!

A pair of Turkish Airforce Airbus A400M landed this afternoon at Cape Town International Airport South Africa.This isn’t the first time a Airbus A400M has landed in the Mother city, previous years have seen both Royal Airforce A400Ms as well as the German Airforce.

Airbus A400M Atlas

The A400Ms of the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri) arrived at Cape Town International Airport this afternoon 30 April 2020 bringing in donated medical supplies for the war against Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.

Final Approach into Cape Town International Airport

“This is a gesture of the Turkish government to South Africa. The consignment has been prepared upon the instruction of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Turkish Ambassador Elif Comoglu Ulgen had said.

She said the consignment comprises medical equipment and personal protection gear including surgical masks, medical-grade N95 masks, and protective suits ect.

Airbus Military A400M Atlas

The Airbus A400M Atlas is a European four-engine military turboprop cargo aircraft . It was designed by Airbus Military (now Airbus Defence and Space ) as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

SAAF C-47 77 years and counting!

Originally written by Dean Wingrin in 2015 for the 80th celebration. Edited by Ryno Joubert in 2020 for the 85th anniversary!

Known by such names as the Dakota, Dak, Gooney Bird, TurboDak and even Vomit Comet, 2020 commemorates the 85th anniversary of the first flight of the venerable Douglas DC-3 / C-47 forbearer, the Douglas Sleeper Transport (DST) passenger airliner which evolved into the 21-seater DC-3, on 17 December 1935.

35 Squadron Badge “SHAYA AMANZI”- STRIKE THE WATER

According to The Dakota Association of South Africa, the DC-3, as the DST was to become known, was the first commercial transport aircraft capable of making a profit from carrying passengers only. Most aeroplanes of its vintage were being subsidised by the carriage of mail and freight, whilst air-travel was only for the daring and the affluent.

With the war clouds of World War Two looming on the horizon, the civilian DC-3 was developed into the military C-47 Dakota, powered by two Pratt and Whitney radial engines, with an enlarged cargo door and strengthened fuselage. Along with the Jeep and the Bazooka, General Patton announced it to be one of the major contributors to the victory in the Second World War.

The C-47 was capable of transporting 10,000 lbs (4 536 kg) of cargo or 27 passengers in permanent seats or configured for 28 paratroopers. By the time the last Dakota left the assembly line in 1946, a total of 10 655 DC-3, C-47 and associated variants has been produced.

The Dakota has seen over 77 years of military service in South Africa. The aircraft entered SAAF service in 1943 when the RAF passed a number of their fleet onto the SAAF. By the end of World War Two, a total of 84 Lend-Lease Dakotas had been transferred to the SAAF.

At the cessation of hostilities in 1945, a large number of surplus Dakotas were disposed of, including transferring some to South African Airways. The survivors of the SAA fleet later found their way back to the SAAF in 1971.

When sanctions were imposed on South Africa in the mid-70s, a number of Dakotas were purchased from various sources to supplement those still in SAAF service. In total 16 were added to the SAAF strength. At one stage, the SAAF had the distinction of operating the largest remaining fleet of Dakotas in the world.

The Dakota performed yeoman service during the Border War from the 1960’s through to the end of hostilities in 1988, performing such roles as troop transport, resupply, medical evacuation, Para -trooping and other ancillary activities. Her toughness stood her in good stead.

During one particular mission near the South West African/Angolan border on 1 May 1986, a Dakota of 44 Squadron, commanded by Captain Colin Green, was hit by a SAM-7 surface-to-air missile while transporting high-ranking officials. The missile strike resulted in the loss of most of the rudder and a large proportion of the elevators. The pilot managed to keep the aircraft in the air and on course to AFB Ondangwa, where it was landed safely with no injuries to its crew or passengers.

Following the end of the Border War, the number of squadrons operating the Dakota was reduced, along with the disposal of airframes.

SAAF Museum C47 & AFB Swartkop resident!


The early 1990s saw a large number of Dakotas upgraded to ‘TurboDak’ configuration under Project Felstone. This conversion involved replacing the piston engines of the classic Dakota with two Pratt and Whitney PT6A 65R turboprop engines, lengthening of the fuselage and the installation of modern avionics. Thereafter, the aircraft were re-designated as the C-47TP TurboDak. Between 1989 and 1994, twelve aircraft were converted to C-47TP standard.

35 Squadron C47TP “6884” at AFB Swartkop
The Newly upgraded SAAF C47TP

35 Squadron has been associated with the Dakota since 1985, when several C-47s were acquired to replace the recently retired Avro Shackleton MR3 in the maritime surveillance role.

When 25 and 27 Squadrons were amalgamated with 35 Squadron on 31 December 1990, additional Dakotas were utilised for air transport, leaving the Squadron responsible for both the Maritime and Transport roles. The classic piston-engine workhorses were finally withdrawn in September 1994 and replaced with the modified turbine engine C47TP Dakota.

Apart from the Squadron’s maritime role and transport role (consisting of Para- trooping, target towing, scheduled passenger services, aero medical evacuation and logistical support), the Squadron also performs other support functions. These include electronic intelligent gathering, tactical image (photo) reconnaissance and numerous training functions, such as navigator and telecommunication operator training.

Langebaanweg Airshow 2017-Picture by Jarryd Sinovich
35 Squadron C47TP “6887” at the 50th Anniversary of the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team at a Airshow at AFB Langebaanweg December 2017
35 Squadron C47TP “6825”
Airforce Day 2020, AFB Swartkop
35 Squadron C47TP “6825”
Airforce Day 2020, AFB Swartkop

As a result of rationalisation that has taken place over the last few years, only eight C-47TPs remain in SAAF service, where they serve with 35 Squadron in Cape Town in a variety of roles. The variants operated are: five maritime surveillance configured aircraft, two in transport configuration and one as an Electronic Warfare (EW) training platform.

C47TP leads the light transport formation making up of 41 Squadron Cessna 208As and 44 Squadron Casa 212s.

The SAAF has the distinction of operating the largest remaining fleet of Dakotas used by the military in the world:

Colombia: 6 (FAC1654, FAC1658, FAC1667, FAC1681, FAC1683, FAC1686)
Guatemala: 2 (FAG530, FAG590)
Mauritania: 1 (5T-MAH)
Thailand: 7 (RTAF46151, RTAF46153, RTAF46154, RTAF46156, RTAF46157, RTAF46158, RTAF46159)
South Africa 35 Squadron: 8 (6814, 6825, 6828, 6839, 6852, 6854, 6885, 6887)

SAAF Casa 212s keeping busy during SA Covid-19 lockdown!

The South African Airforce as well as the South African National Defence Force, South African Police Service and other Private Security firms have been deployed to carry out a task of directing citizens of South Africa to stay at home during the countries lockdown and a further two week extended lockdown to clamp down on the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus with a number of people testing positive for the disease and a major loss of human life across the world.

44 Squadron Casa 212

44 Squadron based at Airforce Base Waterkloof, have been keeping the skies above South Africa with the transportation of essential goods including medical equipment.

Parts of the country the light transport aircraft has been tasked to help transport these goods, have been Kwa-Zulu Natal, The Eastern Cape, The Western Cape and other Provinces dealing with high risk area’s with COVid-19 patients.

Airforce Station Port Elizabeth
Picture by Captain Mark Kelbrick
Picture by Captain Mark Kelbrick
King Shaka International Airport Durban
Picture by SANDF
Airforce Base Ysterplaat, Cape Town
SAAF Crew and Personnel

44 Squadron SAAF is a squadron of the South African Air Force. It is currently a light transport squadron. First formed: 12 March 1944. The Squadron has a total of 3 Casa 212s, Two 200s and One 300 as part of their light transport assets.

SAAF Casa 212 & Airforce of Zimbabwe Casa 212
Eswatini Airshow 2019

SAA Cargo Ramped Up capacity using passenger aircraft for cargo only to transport Essential Cargo during COVID-19 Lockdown

 For the first time in its history, the Cargo division of South African Airways, SAA Cargo, operated a passenger aircraft for a pure cargo uplift. 

On 06 April 2020 and in response to the increased demand for cargo flights to distribute critical and essential goods during the lockdown, SAA Cargo operated an Airbus A340-600 as a cargo only flight, transporting essential goods between Johannesburg and Frankfurt.

The outbound cargo included perishables such as fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, laboratory supplies as well as automotive and aircraft parts for repairs. On the inbound leg from Europe the aircraft landed last night in Johannesburg and the cargo included testing kits for COVID-19, immunological pharmaceuticals, insulin, surgical personal protective equipment (PPE), and processing equipment for food such as baby milk powder.

“SAA has demonstrated agility and we are working with our partners to provide them and our country with solutions that are relevant in these difficult times.

The decision to deploy an A346, is based on both its capacity and range and so bolsters our freighter services during this time when there is high demand for cargo shipments,” said SAA Cargo’s acting General Manager, Justice Luthuli.

The next pure cargo flight is scheduled to depart from Johannesburg to Guangzhou on Friday, 10 April 2020. It will operate on the same aircraft type for collection and delivery of medical supplies.

SAA Cargo has stepped up as a trade facilitator and a solution provider to sustain supply chains to and from various countries. The solution is provided on a charter basis at the request of our customers, who are producers and suppliers of essential cargo.

All flights are operated under strict operating procedures and in full compliance to COVID-19 civil aviation and health regulatory measures by both our staff and our customers. 

“As a national carrier, we are pleased that we can contribute in response to our country’s needs to bring in much needed medical supplies and other essential goods to assist in the fight against COVID-19. We extend our gratitude to all our employees for their commitment and service during this time,” Luthuli concluded.

About SAA Cargo

SAA Cargo, the airfreight division of SAA provides terminal services and a global distribution network for purposes of cargo air transportation logistics. 

The division is integral in providing various solutions for global rapid movement of essential goods such as agri-products, pharmaceuticals, valuable and vulnerable cargo, human remains, spare parts, pets, courier, diplomatic mail, dangerous goods and other related service. 

The operating model for SAA Cargo division is based on a combination of the line flights, purchase of capacity from strategic partner airlines and freighter service for regional transhipment. This is supplemented by an extensive global interline and road feeder service.

SAA Board And Management Congratulate Crew For Wuhan Repatriation

 The board and management of South African Airways (SAA) wishes to thank and congratulate the SAA crew who flew the chartered aircraft which repatriated citizens from Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated.

The crew and 112 South Africans were cleared to return to their families on Sunday after testing negative for the coronavirus in a second round of tests since their arrival from Wuhan, China.

Acting chairperson of the SAA board, Thandeka Mgoduso said that by agreeing to be in an SAA charter flight evacuating the nationals from Wuhan, the crew exemplified the spirit of Ubuntu and Thuma Mina, whose ethos is that the greatest responsibility for us all is humility, discipline, empathy, generosity and volunteerism.

“We thank The Almighty, the SAA crew, members of the South African National Defence Force and the medical team from the Department of Health, that none of the repatriated South Africans have tested positive for COVID-19 after they were quarantined for 14 days. We further thank the staff at The Ranch for courageously and caringly looking after the whole group that returned from Wuhan.

“Even though they may have had concerns and anxieties about the possibility of contracting the virus, it is clear that the call to national duty superseded all these anxieties. They adhered to the strict medical advice and protocols and took all the precautionary measures before, during and after the repatriation.

“Emerging from the quarantine period with no CODIV 19 infection, our crew can now play a vital role in conscientizing and advising their communities in South Africa, about the importance of observing the strict medical advice and the wisdom of adhering to the publicised protocols. They are now not only SAA ambassadors but also change agents for curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

“At SAA, we are grateful for and proud of their kindness, empathy and spirit of volunteerism and a strong sense of national responsibility. Their resilience and ability to rise to the challenge and withstand the rigours of the mission and the further quarantining after arriving in the country; are highly commendable. 

“Their willingness to give their time and talent is greatly appreciated. This behaviour and commitment to doing what is right, has set a good example for everyone in the country, as we all struggle with the early stages of the pandemic.

“Their compassion and willingness to heed the call for national duty must be an inspiration for us all. It must encourage all of us to want to be part of the solution in combating the scourge of the coronavirus. We congratulate and applaud them,” said Mgoduso.

Swiss Air Ambulance Challager 650 Lands at Cape Town International Airport

A lone Swiss Air Ambulance Challager 650 landed at Cape Town International Airport yesterday. The reason is not yet known but some sources indicating a possible medical evacuation of a Swiss National with possible COVID-19 symptoms!

Swiss Air-Rescue is a private, non-profit air rescue service that provides emergency medical assistance in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Rega was established on 27 April 1952 by Dr Rudolf Bucher, who believed the Swiss rescue organization needed a specialized air sub-secti.

The Challenger 650 is the updated version of the Challenger 605. The Challenger 650 features 2 additional executive seats to accommodate up to 12 passengers, upgraded engines offering a higher thrust rate to reduce takeoff field length, and larger appliances in the galley to assist with faster meal preparation.

Hundreds of Swiss travellers remain blocked abroad due to Covid-19 restrictions and cancelled flights. Travel operators and the foreign ministry are working to find ways to get them home. 

“We still have several hundred clients abroad who want to get back to Switzerland. We’re doing our best to find flights for them,” Bianca Gähweiler of Hotelplan Suisse told the Keystone-SDA news agency on Wednesday. 

The travel agent is scrambling to find solutions for clients in locations such as Morocco, South Africa, and Ukraine, where travel bans are in place for people from Switzerland. 

The foreign ministry, meanwhile, has called on Swiss travelling abroad to try to return as soon as possible due to the pandemic, but has reiterated that the costs of flights and other expenses must be borne by individuals. There is no legal basis for an organised repatriation. 

South African Airways scales down capacity due to travel disruptions and restrictions caused by Coronavirus

JOHANNESBURG. 18 March 2020. South African Airways (SAA) has scaled down capacity in response to the low demand for air travel. The effects of the outbreak of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) have led to travel disruptions and restrictions across the world, leading to the grounding of aircraft, releasing employees, and cancelling flights for many airlines. SAA is not immune to these realities.

In the light of the substantial fall in demand for air travel, SAA has reviewed its flight schedule and has decided to operate flights only under circumstances where its load factors and other business considerations weigh in favour of scheduling flights. However, certain flights that have been negatively impacted more than others, are consequently cancelled.

“Notwithstanding the decline in demand, SAA continues to aggressively review its schedule to match capacity with demand to the extent possible. Where feasible, we will consider options that include cancelling and merging flights,” said SAA Chief Commercial Officer, Philip Saunders.

For the period 17 until 31 March 2020, SAA has cancelled a total of 162 flights. Of these, 38 are international and 124 are regional (destinations on the African continent) flights.

At the same time, the airline is continuing to provide a service on the domestic, regional and international networks for those passengers whose travel is essential and cannot be avoided. For the time being, the airline will continue to operate to and from destinations unaffected by travel restrictions aimed at combatting the spread of the Coronavirus.

“Our priority is to assist those travellers wishing to repatriate to their home countries to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible. Naturally, this includes South African citizens abroad wishing to return home,” Saunders explained. 

Subject to the conditions set out in the travel ban announced by government in South Africa, SAA will also facilitate the transfer of qualifying passengers to or from the destinations it flies to, which have been classified as high-risk areas.

Appreciating the impact of travel restrictions emanating from the outbreak of the Coronavirus, SAA has demonstrated its commitment towards looking after its customers by providing flexible rebooking options.

“We have updated our Customer Reservation Policy to help our passengers defer their travel plans where possible. To this end, we have offered our customers one free ticket change, in acknowledgement of travel restrictions that are not of our customers’ own making,” Saunders elaborated.

The Updated Reservation Policy now extends to the entire SAA route network.

Below is a summary of the amended travel policy, which is available on www.flysaa.com.

§  Must rebook / reissue ticket/s by 30 April 2020.

§  Complete travel by 28 February 2021.

§  Rebook same booking class with no additional collection and change fees waived.

§  Additional fare collection and taxes will apply to cases of seasonality change, but change fees will be waived.

§  If same booking class is not available, upgrade to lowest applicable booking class.  Additional fare collection and taxes will apply but change fees will be waived.

§  One (1) free change and ticket reissue permitted only.

§  Tickets to be endorsed “COVID-19 SA FLT/DATE”.

§  Applicable to all fare types.

§  Change of cabin will not be permitted.

§  Change of routing will not be permitted.

§  This travel advisory waives the 72-hour rule.

§  This policyis applicable to South African Airways flights only and does not apply to Mango, SA Express and Airlink, issued on SA (083) ticket stock and not on separate tickets of other airlines. This policywill apply when Mango, SA Express and Airlink forms part of the itinerary issued on SA (083) ticket stock.

§  No refunds are permitted as part of this advisory.

§  Other refunds are permitted according to the applicable fare rules.

§  Previous No-show passengers are not eligible for this waiver.

§  SAA reserves the right to withdraw or revise the terms and conditions without prior notice.

SAA regrets any inconvenience to our customers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and we encourage all customers to visit our website www.flysaa.com for further updates.

Customers are advised to contact either their travel agents, or for direct bookings, the  South African Airways Call Centre on +27 (0)11 978-1111 or 0861 606 606 or 0800 214 774 (South Africa only) or +27 (0)11 978-2888.

“We thank customers for their continued support and placing their trust in South African Airways with their travel plans,” concluded Saunders.

SAA will provide regular and timely updates through media statements and through our travel trade partners.

-Ends-

For media enquiries,  please contact:

SAA Spokesperson
Mr Tlali Tlali 
Email:               TlaliTlali@flysaa.com
Mobile:             +27 (0)82 333-3880
Office:               +27 (0)11 978-2298

Customers to contact:

South African Airways Call Centre on +27 (0)11 978-1111 or 0861 606 606 or 0800 214 774 (South Africa only) or +27 (0)11 978-2888.

General Enquiries:

Website: www.flysaa.com

Twitter (Primary): @flysaa – https://twitter.com/flysaa

Twitter (Customer Service): @flysaa_care – https://twitter.com/flysaa_care

Facebook: www.facebook.com/flysaa

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