Tag Archives: SANDF

Airborne patient evacuation at sea with 15 Squadron SAAF

Jonathan Kellerman, NSRI Durban station commander, said:

At 11h32, Sunday, 11 July, 2 NSRI Durban rescue swimmers, 2 Netcare 911 rescue paramedics and a SA Air Force (SAAF) ,15 Squadron, flight crew, departed Durban Air Force Base aboard a SAAF Oryx helicopter to rendezvous with an oil tanker motor vessel approaching Durban from deep-sea to patient evacuate a 27 year old Filipino crewman suffering a medical complaint.

The crews had been placed on alert by MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) on Saturday after a WC Government Health EMS duty doctor evaluated the patients condition in communications with the ships medical crew and it was deemed necessary for the patient to be evacuated to hospital as soon as possible.

Telkom Maritime Radio Services assisted with the VHF marine radio communications.

On arrival at the motor vessel, 50 nautical miles off-shore of Durban, in calm sea conditions, an NSRI rescue swimmer and the 2 Netcare 911 rescue paramedics were hoisted onto the helicopters deck.

The patient, in a stable conditions, was secured into a vacuum mattress and specialised stretcher and hoisted into the helicopter with one of the rescue paramedics.

The NSRI rescue swimmer and the remaining rescue paramedic were hoisted into the helicopter.

The patient, in the care of the Netcare 911 rescue paramedics, was airlifted directly to a Durban hospital landing zone and then transported to a Durban hospital by Netcare 911 ambulance where he is receiving emergency medical care in hospital and he is expected to make a full recovery.

The patient evacuation operation completed at 13h04.

NSRI Emergency Operations Centre, NSRI Durban duty controllers, Netcare 911 duty controllers, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, WC Government Health EMS, SA Air Force Command, Transnet National Ports Authority and Transnet National Ports Health Authority assisted Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in operational logistics and coordination of the airborne patient evacuation operation.

SAAF Change of Command Parade

A cold frosty morning on the 4th June 2021 we made on way to Airforce Base Swartkop in Valhalla. This is has been our home grounds for years for Airshows, flying training days and parade as such this being the new chief acceptance parade from Lieutenant General Fabian Zakes Msimang to pass on his task as the new chief of the South African Airforce, Lieutenant General Wiseman Simo Mbambo.

Thanks to the South African Media Liaison officers. We were kindly given gift bags and made surely welcome to base and had a fantastic position for photo opportunities for both members of the parade and aircraft flying overhead.

SA Defence News provided live streaming via YouTube for Aviation Enthusiasts and other guests which weren’t able to attend the parade due to covid 19 restrictions. AFB Swartkop made sure all protocols were made for screening and sanitizing all invited guests and media.

A general salute was first up of the sequence of events of cannon gun fire while a pair of Oryx Helicopters carried both the South African National flag and South African Airforce (SAAF) flag. Once again great flying by the crew from various helicopter Squadrons in such windy conditions.

During this time Chaplin Melanie Smit provided the parade with a Religious observance and a code of conduct also mentioned.

Lt General (Retired) Fabian Zakes Msimang continued with his speech as he passes on his command to Lieutenant General W. S Mbambo as said :

I leave an Air Force that centers its behaviour around the needs of the next generation. An Air Force that lived by the slogan “We serve with Discipline, Dignity, Professionalism and Patriotism”.

The mass Flypasts began with a helicopter formation of five Oryx Helicopters from various Squadron from around South Africa and one BK117 from 15 Squadron “Charlie” flight.

The pointer formation was next led by 1 Pilatus PC12 and four Cessna 208A Caravans from 41 Squadron bSed at Airforce Base Waterkloof.

Nine Pilatus PC7s MKIIs led by Major Sivu Tangana, current leader of the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team of the South African Airforce, flew directly over the parade podium showing the abito-nitio trainer for student pilots to qualify to get their wings in the SAAF.

28 Squadron with two C130BZ Hercules in linerstern formation flew over with not far behind them the Combat Formation with two JAS39 Gripens from 2 Squadron and three Hawks from 85 Combat Flying School, both Squadrons based at Airforce Base Makhado in the Limpopo Province.

After the parade we we treated to a wonderful spread of refreshments at the Centre of Aviation Awareness Hanger at AFB Swartkop, where Lieutenant General Mbambo, addressed media and invited guests.

The SAAFs Combat Readiness

THIS IS OUR CORE BUSINESS AS THE AIR FORCE – TO BE ALWAYS COMBAT READY WHENEVER WE ARE REQUIRED TO DELIVER ON OUR MANDATE. WE MUST DO EVERYTHING TO REMAIN AT OUR SHARPEST READINESS LEVEL. NO DOUBT – THERE ARE MANY STORMS AROUND US BUT AS EAGLES WE CANNOT AFFORD TO COW DOWN TO THEM. WE SHALL CONTINUE TO FORGE AHEAD IN LINE WITH OUR INTRINSIC EAGLE CHARACTERISTICS AND OUR MOTTO ASPERA PER SPERA AD ASTRA – FROM THE ADVERSITY TO THE STARS

We’d like to welcome the new Chief of the South African Airforce to his position and look forward to working with him in the future. Till then this “an Airforce that inspires Confidence”

Thanks to the contributors to this article Jarryd Sinovich, Vincent Nagel, Dian Townsend & Gerrit Mynhardt

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Outgoing SANDF General Solly Shoke Parade

The 28th May 2021,saw the outgoing chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) General Solly Zacharia Shoke during a retreat parade at Thaba Tshwane, known to many as the military town of Pretoria.

Just to mention just some of his curriculum vitae In 1998, Shoke commanded the South African Development Community forces during Operation Boleas in Lesotho. He was the Director Personnel Acquisition from January 1999 to October 2000, when he was promoted to the rank of major general as the Chief Director Human Resources Support. He was promoted to Chief of the Army in 2004, and became Chief of the South African National Defence Force in May 2011.Solly Shoke was the longest serving Chief of the SANDF to date.

President Cyril Ramaphosa attened the parade during the hand over the command of the SANDF to Lieutenant-General Rhudzani Maphwanya as new chief of the South African National Defence Force.

A flag fly-past started proceedings by two Oryx Helicopters carrying both the South African National Flag and SANDF flag, a single 44 Squadron Casa 212 dropped skydivers from 44 Parachute Regiment. Different marching columns made their way onto the sports.

First of the Mass Fly pasts included a helicopter fly-past consisting of a Agusta A109LUH from 19 Squadron, four Oryx Helicopters and a 15 Squadron ‘Charlie’ Flight BK117.

Next was the Pelican Formation made up of a 35 Squadron C47TP Dakota and a 44 Squadron Casa 212.Followed then by the pointer formation of four Cessna 208As Caravans from 41 Squadron. It was then the return of 28 Squadron with two C130BZs.Major Sivu Tangana led a 9-ship formation of Pilatus PC7MKIIs from the Central Flying School, AFB Langebaanweg.

The final formation was the combat formation led by Colonel “Boerboel” Mashaba with two Gripens from 2 Squadron and three Hawks from 85 Combat Flying School. It was then time for Major Mohau “Dobaman” Vundla’s first Gripen solo display in Gauteng skies as he comes in as 2 Squadrons new Gripen display pilot!

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Major-General Wiseman Simo Mbambo is appointed as Chief of the South African Air Force

From the President’s media release: Major-General Mbambo began his military career in Umkhonto we Sizwe, where, among other things, he served as a training instructor in the Kibaxe Camp in Angola and was Commander in Charge of the former MK Military Aviation Group that underwent training in the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.

He has served in several positions in the South African Air Force, including General Officer Commanding Air Force Base Waterkloof and Chief of Staff Air Operations Major-General Mbambo is currently Deputy Chief of Staff of the SANDF.”

New York Air National Guard Capt. Patrick Gillen leads South African Maj Gen Wiseman Simo Mbambo on a tour of a US Airforce C-5M Super Galaxy cargo bay undergoing refurbishment at the base during 2015

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also announced that from 1 June 2021, Lieutenant-General Rudzani Maphwanya will take over as chief of the South African National Defense force SANDF from General Solly Shoke, who has been chief of the SANDF since 2011.

SAAF Helicopters from various squadrons ,Lynx,Oryx,Rooivalk and A109s

SAAF 75 best Airshow in Southern Africa to date?

Pictures by Stefaan Bouwer

The flightline at Airforce Base Waterkloof in Pretoria during the early week of October 1995 saw a number of visiting military air arms from across the world, attended what was South Africa’s biggest military Airshow to date!

SAAF 75 Display Program

This was also the the 75th Birthday celebrations of the South African Air Force. A number of aircraft were painted up in special paint schemes for the celebration, including the SAAF Museums Mirage IIICZ “Black Widow”.

SAAF Museum Mirage IIICZ “Black Widow”

From the biggest Antonov A124 which brought a number of Russian Fighter jets in the back of the hold, including a Mig 29 and SU35. Both flying and on static display!

Russian Airforce Su35
Russian Airforce Mig29

The Americans brought out all their bells and whistles including an F16, F15, KC135R Stratotanker, C130s, Lockheed C-141 Starlifter and many more!

USAF F16

Australia brought out a P-3 Orion and the Canadian Airforce attended with a Boeing 707.The Royal Airforce were here with the famous Red Arrows, C130, and a E-3 Sentry.

Red Arrows

The South African Air Force put on a excellent variety of both new and old, including the Mirage F1AZ flown by Chris “Piranha” Pretorius, which he got struck by lightning during one of his solo displays during the show. It was one of the last shows the Impala MK1s being the Silver Falcons before being replaced by the then new Pilatus PC7 MkII “Astra”.

1 Squadron Mirage F1AZ
2 Squadron Cheetah Cs

One has to ask will we ever see a show as big as this one day again?

Red Arrows
Russian Airforce SU30

Retirement Of SAAF Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang

On Wednesday 30 September,members of the South African Air force and members of the media got to witness a series of beautiful flypasts from a number of aircraft of squadrons based across South Africa.A fitting tribute and thank you to the former Chief of the South African Air force!

Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande (Zakes) Msimang integrated into the South African National Defence Force in 1994 after the first Democratic Elections as a qualified helicopter pilot.He received his flying training at Frunze 1 Central Officers Training Center – Kirghistan, in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics between 1986 to 1991.

He graduated from the institution with a diploma in Command and Tactics of Military Aviation.During Msimang’s Career he has flown the Mi8, Mi25 ,Alouette III and Oryx Helicopters.He also completed a factory conversion onto the Agusta A109E Helicopter at Agusta/Westland now known at Leonardo in Italy.

Mil Mi8
MIL MI25
Alouette III
Agusta A109LUH

He was a member of the Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK),the military wing of the African National Congress.He engaged in combat in Angola in 1986.In 1994,he completed the Air force Junior Staff Course in Zimbabwe before returning to the South African National Defence Force.Post 1994,he served as an operational pilot in both maritime and inland operations.

In 2000,Msimang was appointed the assistant project officer on the acquisition programme of the Agusta A109LUH in Italy.He went onto successfully complete the Senior Staff Course at the Italian Air force War School.On his return in 2003 from Italy,he was appointed the Officer Commanding of 87 Helicopter Flying School at Air force Base Bloemspruit. The Following year he successfully completed the Joint Senior Command and Staff Programme at the South African National War College.

First South African Air force Agusta A109 In Italy
Oryx Helicopter

In 2005,he was appointed officer commander of Air force Base Bloemspruit and promoted to the rank of Colonel.In 2006,he completed the Executive National Security Programme at the South African National Defence College.In 2007,Msimang,after a two and half year tour as OC at Air force Base Bloemspruit,he was appointed Director Helicopter Systems and Promoted to the rank of Brigadier General at Air Command.

Eldorado Park Aviation Expo 2017 with Gripen display Pilot Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper

In November 2010,he was appointed Chief Director Air Policy and Plans and then promoted to the rank of Major General,responsible for Air force Strategy,policies,capabilities and resource allocation.On 28 September 2012 he was accepted command as the Chief of the South African Air force from Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano.

Chief of The SAAF Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang Retreat Parade

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gripen & Hawk Formation
Gripen & Hawk Formation

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

Gripen Flare drop

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

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


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

Video Below

Click on photo below to enlarge

The first 15 does it again!

At 14h43, Friday, 14 August, the SA Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron, NSRI Durban rescue swimmers and Netcare 911 rescue paramedics were activated to prepare to patient evacuate a 36 year old Indian crewman, suffering a serious injury, off a 330 meter crude oil tanker near to Port Elizabeth. A SAAF 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter, accompanied by two NSRI Durban rescue swimmers and 2 Netcare 911 rescue paramedics, departed Durban Air Force Base and arrangements were made for refuelling to take place at East London and at Port Elizabeth.

After refuelling was completed in East London, on arrival at the ship, off-shore of Algoa Bay, 2 NSRI rescue swimmers and a Netcare 911 rescue paramedic were hoisted onto the vessel accompanied by a rescue stretcher. The patient, in a serious condition, suffering a compound fracture to a leg, reportedly sustained in a fall, was taken into their care from the ships medical crew.

The patient was airlifted to a Port Elizabeth hospital in a stable but serious condition where he is recovering post operation. The SAAF Oryx helicopter refuelled at Port Elizabeth 15 Squadron, Charlie Flight and on the return route to Durban refueling took place at East London. The operation completed at 02h39 on Saturday morning.

The crew involved in the rescue was Lieutenant Colonel Zungu (Commander), Major Sandi (Co-pilot) and Flight Sergeant Vumazonke(Flight Engineer).

15 Squadron is one of the coastal helicopter squadrons based at Air Force Base Durban. It is currently a transport/utility helicopter squadron, utilizing the Oryx and A109LUH Helicopters.Their sister based Squadron “Charlie” Flight at Air force Station Port Elizabeth flying the BK117.

Africa Aerospace and Defence postponed till 2022

Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD), Africa’s premier aerospace and defence exhibition and airshow, scheduled to take place 16-20 September 2020, has been deferred to 21 -25 September 2022 as a result of the current global COVID-19 pandemic. This decision follows a series of events which included the close monitoring of the pandemic’s global roll-out as well
as its prevalence in South Africa.

The organisers announced the deferment to September
2022 following consultations with the Department of Defence (DOD) and other key stakeholders associated with the biennial flagship event.
The Show organisers advised that several factors were taken into consideration in arriving at
the decision, which include – amongst others:


● The absolute need to ensure the battle against the Covid-19 virus is won and to further
safeguard human lives,
● The severity that the pandemic has imposed on the global aviation and defence
exhibition sector
● A decision by the DOD to put a hold on all foreign activities and events (inbound and
outbound missions)
● South African borders remaining closed with no travelling anticipated to take place by
September 2020.

The announcement also comes at the time when South Africa is currently under level 3 lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which restrictions include the prohibition of any public gatherings, a trend also seen around the world during lockdown phases.
“We are aware that the deferment of AAD 2020 comes as an additional setback to the international defence and aerospace industries, and in particular the South African industry, given that AAD Expo is identified and diarised as a platform to showcase the latest advances and technological innovations that the world’s best in aviation and defence has to offering. .

However, everyone’s health, safety and security come first; we can and will only proceed with giving you the best of AAD when it is absolutely safe to do so. We can assure you though that we are already working and planning on delivering an enhanced AAD 2022”, said Exhibition
Director, Leona Redelinghuys.

The organisers will engage directly with all exhibitors whose participation had been confirmed
for AAD2020 on various options available to them, as a result of the deferment.

Another Rescue for 15 Squadron and the Mountain Club of SA


The Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) section rescue team was called out on this past Saturday morning to a woman who had sustained a broken leg in the southern Drakensberg. She was stretchered out to a private ambulance by the Underberg MCSA rescue team.

Pictures courtesy of MCSA

Then near mid night on Sunday the South African National Defence Force requested help with a soldier who had sustained serious injuries in a fall in Leslie’s Pass in the Injasuthi area. At first light on Monday an Oryx helicopter from 15 Squadron , AFB Durban was dispatched, which then picked up 3 Mountain Club members at Pietermaritzburg. A rescue then took place high in Leslie’s Pass, before bringing the patient to a hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

Pictures courtesy of MCSA

Thanks to Gavin Raubenheimer for the story!
KZN Search & Rescue Convener

Pictures courtesy of MCSA

15 Squadron is one of the helicopter squadrons based at the still Air force Base Durban. It is currently a transport/utility helicopter Squadron flying the Oryx medium transport helicopter as well as the Agusta A109LUH . 15 Squadron “Charlie” flight is based at Air force Station Port Elizabeth flying the BK117 helicopter.

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