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“Our Collective Heritage” SAAF Museum Airshow 2019

D-Day for the annual South African Airforce Museum Airshow 2019 had finally arrived at the worlds second oldest operational airbase in the world, Airforce Base Swartkop which is home to the South African Airforce Museum and 17 Squadron a operational helicopter unit also active at the base. The Theme for this years show was “Our Collective Heritage” this is to celebrate and recognise the procurement of our past and present in the SAAF.

Both Umkhonto we Sizwe ( MK ) and Azanian Peoples Liberation Army (AMPLA) sent their pilots abroad to train on aircraft including Cessna 150s and L39s.Helicopter Pilots were sent to Russia for their rotary wings course flying both the MI24 Hind and Mil Mi8 Helicopters.

Former homelands in South Africa known as the TBVC Sates, which were the Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and the Ciskei had their very own Airwings which operated light transport aircraft, helicopter and turbo prop trainers including Pilatus PC7 MKIs just some of the few of their air assets. This was also a perfect occasion to celebrate the theme our collective heritage as mentioned above.

The SAAF Museum Airshow was opened by the Chief of the South African Airforce Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande “Zakes” Msimang. Who flew in one of the Museum Alouette III, General Msimang a former helicopter pilot mentioned in his speech “The purpose of the Museum Air Show is primarily to celebrate our collective heritage, as well as a build up towards the Aerospace and Defence Expo in September 2020.”

The South African Airforce Band, choreographed some beautiful sets of instrumental music for the opening of the show and kept the public entertained during the course of the day with sights and sounds of military men and women putting together their talent of music.

With the low cloud base in the morning of the show, the Golden Eagles Parachute display team were unfortunate not allowed to jump out of the 44 Squadron Casa 212 based at Airforce Base Waterkloof.

Air boss for this years show was Lieutenant Colonel Rodney King a former leader of the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Display team. Capital Sounds Brian Emmenis had a huge deployment with at least a kilometre of speakers, so that the strong 30 000 plus crowd could hear commentary from both Brian Emmenis, Leon Du Plessis, Colonel Lance “Lancelot” Mathebula,Colonol Catherine “Siren” Constable, Major Dale Naddison,Lieutenant Colonel Iwan Robbertse, Captain Tiisetso “Lego” Legodi and Major Mandisa “Comet” Mfeka.

The Silver Aerobatic Display team opened he show with their flat display with Major Omphile “Biggy” Matloane at the lead. The Museums Helicopter’s were next with a aerial ballet from both the Alouette II and Alouette III.A solo display by the Puma, flown by General John Church.

The First jet display for the day was the Museums Vampire T55 flown by Colonel Glen “Gringo” Warden. Glen also flew the Rand Airport Based L29 and L39 adding to the eastern block jet age.

South African Airforce Displays consisted of a Hawk MK120 flown by Lieutenant Colonel Craig “Shark” Leeson, as he gave his last display as 85 Combat Flying Schools display pilot. Major Rehan “Kaine” Venter will be taking over as the Hawk display pilot. Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper put the Gripen JAS39C through its paces with a flare drop at the end of his display.41 Squadron provide a formation display of a Pilatus PC12 and two Cessna 208A Caravans.17 Squadron provided a Oryx Capability demonstration with fast roping and troop extracting. A combat air routine was also carried out by two Hawk MK120s and a JAS39D Gripen fully loaded with ammunition was surly a favourite to see flying in that configuration.

The South African Airforce Museum put on a mini war re -enactment with two Alouette IIIs, Puma,two Cessna C185s,A Kudu and Bosbok. The Museum and Harvard Club T6 Harvard’s flew a mass radial display with a mass shutdown at the end of their slot.

Team Extreme were also present on the day as they have delighted more than hundreds of thousands of people at airshows in Southern Africa this year already. Other Aerobatic teams that were present were the Goodyear Eagles Pitts, The Cows Pitts Specials and the Puma Flying Lions. The MAD Microlight display team also closed the show with LED lights and smoke added to their trikes.

Singleton displays consisted of a Magni Gyro Copter flown by Andre van Zyl, The Nashua Extra 300 flown by Andrew Blackwood Murry. Menno Parsons made a welcome return to Swartkop this year with his P51D Mustang.The radial formation made up of ‘Little Annie’ an Antonov 2 flown by Jon-Marc and Mark Hill as well as a Boeing Stearman flown by Ivan van der Schaar and Riaan Prinsloo in his Yak 18T.Each of the radials then provided a solo display. The Classic Formation made up of a De Havilland Tiger Moth and two Chipmunks added to the De Havilland Aircraft heritage. Anton von Willich flew a display in his Aerospatiale Gazelle. General Des Barker flew a demo flight in the Wonderboom based Atlas Angel.

As the Gripen closed off the show with a sunset display, ending off with flares into the dark blue skies. Another successful and safe Swartkop Airshow had come to an end. With the short amount of time the SAAF Museum and the SAAF had to pull off a great show with a variety of aircraft on display, a big well done to all involved from Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande “Zakes” Msimang Chief of the SAAF, Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Bruintjies Officer commanding SAAF Museum, Lieutenant Colonel Trish Schoeman Officer Commanding Airforce Base Swartkop, Lieutenant Colonel Rodney King Flight Director for the show, Major Ntokozo Ntshangase as the media liaison for the SAAF Museum, Capital Sounds and to all display pilots, ground crews ATCs and all other role players behind the scenes that made the show a success.

Until we all meet again at the 2020 SAAF Museum Airshow and celebrate 100 years of the South African Airforce “As the SAAF Museum like to say Keep them up where they’re belong!”

Watch some of the highlights below from this years SAAF Museum Airshow 2019!

https://youtu.be/dN8xcu63kLc

A Moment Time Stood Still-Air Force Base Swartkop

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

The Past..

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

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

Photo of Swartkop taken 1935

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

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

One of the oldest ATC Towers In South Africa

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

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

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

SAAF Memorial Bays Hill

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

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

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

SAAF Insignia 1921–1927
SAAF Insignia 2004-Present

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

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

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

The Museums Spitfire in her former glory days

Airshows at AFB Swartkop over the years..

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

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

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

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

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