The “new normal” has stymied efforts by the SA Air Force (SAAF) to stage its premier ceremonial event of the year – the Prestige Day parade and flypast.
Instead of the airborne service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) showing its colours with a flypast of serving and historical air force assets either at Air Force Base Swartkop or Waterkloof on the closest Friday to 1 February, this year’s event will be a virtual one.
The decision not to go live is in line with government regulations for its current “adjusted level three” lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The most pertinent to the cancellation of both the Prestige Day parade and flypast and the Prestige Awards is the regulation stopping all gatherings of more than 50 people, both in- and outdoors.
defenceWeb is advised by the SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communication, with input from SAAF Corporate Services, which includes media liaison, there will also be no SAAF Prestige Awards function this year. The awards are presented annually to honour achievers at personal, unit and/or directorate level in the SAAF. A highlight is the announcement of the Sword of Peace recipient. Last year when the SAAF marked, albeit in subdued fashion, its centenary, this award was not made. The previous year the Directorate: Helicopter Systems received the Sword of Peace, following in the wake of individual rotary-wing squadrons including 15, 16 and 22, in previous years.
The only bright spot, if it can be called that, is that the State of the Air Force address by Acting CAF, Major General Mzayifani Innocent Buthelezi, will be broadcast on Monday, 1 February, the actual establishment date of the SAAF. According to an SANDF statement the Major General’s address will go out live on YouTube and Facebook at 10h00.