An SA Air Force (SAAF) technical team was quarantined at the country’s oldest air force base – Swartkop – after returning from assisting with recovery of the C-130BZ Hercules involved in a runway excursion in the Democratic Republic of Congo in January.
The 20-strong team, under the command of Major Ernest van Niekerk, according to the SANDF, spent 10 weeks in Goma where the 28 Squadron aircraft (tail number 403) ended up seriously damaged on side of the runway. All indications are the four-engined Lockheed Martin military transport is category five (written off). The SAAF has given no firm indication of what will become of the 56-year-old aircraft other than to say “the complete aircraft will be recovered to South Africa this year”.
On their return to South Africa, the recovery team had to be quarantined in line with regulations imposed as part of the national state of disaster. They were accommodated in a purpose-built temporary air base (TAB) at Swartkop, home to the SAAF Museum and 17 Squadron, for the duration of the quarantine period. The DRC returnees are not the first military group to make AFB Swartkop a temporary home while undergoing 14 day quarantine. Since it was put up in April it has seen some 400 SANDF personnel enter and leave – clear of coronavirus.
AFB Swartkop Officer Commanding Colonel Trish Schoeman is reported as acknowledging the efforts of SA Military Health Service (SAMHS), other military personnel and SAAF staff at the base for effort and input in making the TAB a reality.