It may have been a chilly wind blowing across AFB Langebaanweg Thursday, but the 25 young SAAF men and women on parade were feeling warm inside. There are few parades more important to a pilot than a Wings Parade.
After three years of training at the Central flying School, the successful members of SAAF Student Pilots Course 113/09 were awarded their coveted Wings by Maj Gen Lucky Ngema, Chief Director Policy and Plans. The triumphant members of the course included eleven white men, twelve black men, one Coloured woman and one Indian woman.
Immediately after having their Wings pinned to their chest, the Candidate Officers were promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant. Maj. E Brand was also awarded his Test Engineer brevet, having successfully completed the year long course at the National Test Pilot School in the United States.
In his speech, Ngema acknowledged that pilots in the Air Force just want to fly. “Aircrews have always been a rather special breed. To them flying is not a job, it is a calling to which they can give nothing but their best. When aircrew look to their future, there is no alternative plan: their future is flying and nothing else will suffice.”.
Perhaps with reference to a mutinous riot at the Union Buildings in Pretoria by SA National Defence Union members on August 26 last year, Ngema reminded those on parade that they have a higher duty. “We don’t go on strike. We strike … at the enemy. We inspire confidence amongst our People. Striking soldiers demoralise the nation they are meant to safeguard.”
The Air Command floating trophy, awarded to the student who obtained the highest percentage during the theoretical phase of the Pilots Wings Course, was awarded to 2nd Lieutenant Riaan Venter. Venter was also awarded the Air Force Board floating trophy for the student who obtained the highest overall percentage during the flying phase of the Course.
It therefore came as no surprise that a beaming Venter was also awarded the Inkwazi Floating Trophy. This trophy is awarded to the student who obtained the highest overall percentage on the Pilot’s Wings Course.
The SAAF Association floating trophy for the student who showed the greatest overall improvement was awarded to 2nd Lieutenant R Maleba.