40 000 visitors at SAAF Museum air show


Crowds of around 40 000 turned out to see several dozen different types of aircraft take to the air for the annual air show at Air Force Base Zwartkop on Saturday, but highlights also involved demonstrations with armoured vehicles.

The Paramount South African Air Force Museum Airshow on 10 May was arguably the best held to date, said Lieutenant Colonel Mike O’Connor, head of the Museum, with good attendance on both the careers day held on May 9 and the air show on the 10th.

As the Museum is largely self-funded, the annual air show is a major opportunity for the Museum to raise funds and keep its aircraft flying.

In addition to the usual suspects of Harvards, Pitts Specials, Alouette IIs and IIIs and other aircraft belonging to the SAAF Museum, the air show had some special visitors including an ex-SAA DC-4 Skymaster, an Antonov An-2 biplane, MB326 Impala, two Vampires and a Gazelle helicopter.

The Gazelle was flown by an aerobatic pilot from the UK to demonstrate anti-poaching operations. The Paramount Group, the main sponsor of the air show, has donated a Gazelle to SANParks for anti-rhino poaching operations and kept the crowd on their toes with an anti-rhino poaching demonstration, which highlighted the kind of work the Ichikowitz Family Foundation is doing to help combat rhino poaching on the continent. A life size rhino was used to demonstrate a poaching operation, with the help of the Gazelle helicopter, trained tracker dogs, troops and Paramount armoured vehicles.

Paramount has a three year sponsorship arrangement with the SAAF Museum and looks forward to hosting another successful air show next year. “We are committed to this cause, and believe that South Africa has a strong developed defence and aerospace industry and that we have the capability to compete effectively on a global stage,” said Ivor Ichikowitz, Paramount Executive Chairman.

He praised the SAAF Museum, mentioning the great work it is doing in preserving South Africa’s aviation history. “Paramount Group is proud to sponsor the SAAF Museum air show as we recognise it as a custodian of the country’s air force history and an important partner in helping us to promote aviation as a career among our young people.”
“As an industry we are challenged by a lack of engineers, ground crew, etc,” Ichikowitz noted, making aviation awareness and recruiting an important part of the company’s presence at the show.

The company also chose the show to mark 20 years of being in business. “As South Africa celebrates 20 years of freedom this year, Paramount Group also celebrates 20 years in business. This is truly a remarkable achievement and something that the staff is deservedly proud of. We look forward to the next 20 years of world class innovation and job creation,” added Ichikowitz.