CAA hosts Wonderboom air show to celebrate 25 year anniversary

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The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) on Saturday held an air show at Wonderboom National Airport to celebrate its silver anniversary, and encourage schoolgoers to pursue careers in aviation.

An estimated 3 000 guests attended the invitation-only event on 20 April, including many children from local schools who were given the opportunity to learn about aviation and witness aircraft and flight displays firsthand. They had the chance to interact with representatives from Airlink, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), Air Traffic and Navigation Company (ATNS), the South African Air Force (SAAF), and many other stakeholders in aviation.

The event was hosted by the City of Tshwane (which owns Wonderboom National Airport), was fully sponsored by the SACAA, and organised by Creative Space Media, which is also putting together the Virginia, Potchefstroom and Parys air shows this year

In his welcome address, the Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Cilliers Brink, told assembled guests that Wonderboom has great potential for expansion and that the municipality will focus on basic infrastructure but the private sector will be recruited for capital upgrades.

Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga delivered the keynote address, celebrating the SACAA as one of the “shining stars” in the public sector, responsible for 6% of global airspace. “We are here to celebrate…what a state entity can achieve when everything works,” she said.

Transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga.

She reminded guests that the SACAA was established in 1999 as a standalone authority to manage aviation safety and security as well as compliance and best practice. The Minister said the facts speak for themselves, with the CAA doing well in multiple audits by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Notably, ICAO has rated South Africa’s safety oversight system at 91.11% thereby placing it at number one spot in Africa and number 18 in the world.

Chikunga said South Africa has done very well in terms of airline safety, and remains one of a few countries with high air traffic volumes but without a fatal airline accident in three decades.

The Minister celebrated CAA CEO Poppy Khoza in 2022 being elected as the first woman president of the International Civil Aviation Organisation in its 78 years of existence. She also lauded South Africa’s 2022 unqualified security systems audit; the type certification of the locally manufactured Sling aircraft; development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) regulations in 2015; the introduction of aviation personnel smart cards in 2021; sending pilot candidates for training in France; and CAA assistance to neighbouring countries.

She said the CAA is one of South Africa’s best performing state entities and is making the country proud, especially as South Africa has performed “brilliantly” according to European Union and United States standards, allowing airliners to operate in those regions and giving significant economic benefits to the country.

Chikunga and Khoza during the cake cutting.

After the CAA’s anniversary cake was cut, the air show commenced with a display by the Puma Energy Flying Lions display team. They were followed by an action-packed and varied lineup ranging from gyrocopter to an Airlink Embraer 195 airliner and everything in between.

The air show was well supported by the South African Police Service (SAPS), which has a unit based at Wonderboom. The SAPS Air Wing along with K9 unit and Special Task Force put on an adrenaline-fuelled capability demonstration that involved a simulated hijacking, high-speed vehicle pursuit, takedown and arrest while a police Squirrel (H125) helicopter and Turbo Porter provided air support.

From the military side, Armscor and the South African Air Force were in attendance, with the latter bringing static displays as well as an 85 Combat Flying School Hawk Mk 120 lead-in fighter-trainer, which flew a spirited display for the crowds.

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