New leader for the Silver Falcons


The official aerobatic display team of the South African Air Force (SAAF) has a new team leader.

Team 77 will be led by Major Werner (“Cruncher”) Vermaak, the current Slot Pilot (Silver Falcon number 4).

After 121 displays since first being selected as a team member in August 2010, Major Beau (“Dusky”) Skarda flew his final two displays at the Baywest Port Elizabeth Airshow on Saturday 25 October. Skarda, who is the Chief flying Instructor of the Central Flying School (CFS), was appointed as Lead in June 2013.

Vermaak had an interesting career progression since joining the SAAF in 2000. He qualified as a Navigator in December 2002 and was based at 85 Combat Flying School before being selected for Pilot Wings Course, which he completed in 2006. Thereafter, postings to 41 Squadron (C208 Caravan and King Air) and 35 Squadron (C-47TP maritime surveillance aircraft) followed before his current position as an instructor at CFS.

Speaking at the air show on Saturday, Vermaak said that the seed to become an air force pilot was planted when he attended an air show as a school child and watched the Silver Falcons fly. It was then that he knew that this was something he wanted to do.

Referring to his recent appointment as Team Lead, Vermaak said: “I was very fortunate, right time, right place and to be recognised by my peers.”

Making up the six-member team will be Jacques Poolman, who returns to the Silver Falcons, having originally been the 96th member when he joined Team 72 in 2011.

The other members of Team 77 are Captains Mark Bennett, Loedolff Muller, Mark Gentles and Christo Jansen.

The Silver Falcons is the official aerobatic display team of the South African Air Force. Based at Air Force Base Langebaanweg near Cape Town, the Silver Falcons fly the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II. The team consists of five display pilots, of which Falcon 5 is the soloist.