It’s been five months since the last Shackleton ground run at Air Force Base (AFB) Ysterplaat and military aviation enthusiasts will not be able to get their Rolls-Royce Griffon fix this month either.
The reason why comes from a serving 35 Squadron member. He told the unofficial SAAF website: “Due to the strict safety policy the SAAF endeavours to uphold in all spheres be it air or ground related it has become necessary to include Shackleton engine ground runs as well. A number of factors had to be addressed, especially on account of attendance by the public at these events.
“Some might have heard through the grapevine there was going to be an engine ground run this coming Saturday, March 29. That was so and it was my intention to notify all once I had confirmation from Uncle Pottie that the aircraft is ready. I so much wish I could have told you it is definitely so.
“Another unfortunate, but important, hurdle has come into the path for Saturday and that is the non-availability of an ambulance and crew to be on stand-by during the ground run. Humble apologies for this inconvenience and my request, on behalf of the team, is for you to spread the word of NO (repeat) NO ground run this Saturday.
“Thanking you in advance and for understanding. We sincerely hope that we can endeavour to conduct one in April.”
Provision of medical care and services in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is a SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) tasking. At events such as the SAAF Museum air show at AFB Zwartkop and the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition at AFB Waterkloof, SAMHS emergency medical technicians, other healthcare professionals and ambulances are on site ready to assist and help if and when needed.
The engine start-up on Shackleton 1722 has long been an attraction for military aviation enthusiasts in the Western Cape with others from elsewhere in South Africa visiting. Crowds of up to 500 have been known to attend the ground run.
The major contributor to there being no ground runs since October can be put at the door of fractious Cape weather but organisers are hopeful April and the following months will see fair weather – and SAMHS EMTs.
Those present at last June’s ground run had an unexpected bonus when the propeller wash from the four Griffon engines was a bit much for the wall at AFB Ysterplaat movements building. It was literally blown over!