SAAF bringing out the big guns for Museum Air Show

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The South African Air Force (SAAF) is pulling out all the stops for the SAAF Museum Air Show on Saturday, with Gripens and Hawks amongst the headline acts, together with a mini-war demonstration, aerobatic display teams, and more.

To publicise the upcoming show, on Tuesday morning a SAAF Museum Alouette II helicopter raced the Gautrain from Midrand to Centurion, soundly beating its slower earthbound competitor. Gautrain is one of the Museum Air Show’s main partners, and will be offering a free bus service from the Centurion Gautrain station.

During a subsequent media briefing at SAAF Mobile Deployment Wing (formerly Air Force Base Swartkop), Deputy Chief of the Air Force, Major General Mayenzeke Matanda, explained that the race was part of raising awareness for the show and showcasing the capabilities of the SAAF and SAAF Museum.

A SAAF Museum Alouette II races the Gautrain. Photo: SAAF.

The annual SAAF Museum Air Show plays a vital role in generating funds to keep SAAF Museum aircraft flying as it is the Museum’s primary revenue source. It also preserves static aircraft for future generations, Matanda said.

He promised that 4 May will see “the mother of all air shows” in the region. “Since we were forced into hiatus by Covid, we are back with a bang,” Matanda said. Under the theme ‘Flight through time – Legends of the skies’ the air show will highlight the evolution of flight and showcase the SAAF’s capabilities.

SAAF Museum aircraft as well as currently serving military and civilian aircraft are scheduled to thrill the crowds on Saturday, with active duty SAAF participation including a Silver Falcons PC-7 Mk II solo display, Hawk formation, Gripen fighters, C212 transport, and A109 and two BK 117 helicopters, amongst others.

Civilian contributions will vary from high-performance aerobatic aircraft like the Nashua Extra 300L flown by Andrew Blackwood-Murray and Menno Parson’s P-51 Mustang, to Tiger Moth, Beech 18, Mwari, and Chipmunk fixed wing aircraft. Civilian owned jets will be represented by an L-29 and Hawker Hunter, while rotary wing contributions are to include a Gazelle (flown by Juba Joubert), Huey, and Magni gyrocopter.

South Africa’s top aerobatic display teams have agreed to take part in the air show, and these include the Puma Flying Lions, Hired Guns, Team Extra with Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish, Goodyear Eagles, Raptors, and Navion display team.

Flyable SAAF Museum aircraft based at the SAAF Mobile Deployment Wing will include Alouette II, III and Puma helicopters, Bosbok, Kudu and Cessna 185 fixed wing types. Fresh from an impressive capability demonstration at the Wonderboom Air Show on 20 April, the South African Police Service will contribute its assets as well.

The SA Army will not be left out and will be represented by a midday mini-war demonstration involving mock firefights, troop insertion and extraction, aerial attacks and more. In addition, there will be a sizeable display of military hardware, such as air surveillance radars, 35 mm anti-aircraft guns, and vehicles.

Gates open at 7:00 on Saturday 4 May, with the show officially commencing at 9:00 but it will be kicked off with a mass paramotor fly-in.

Saturday’s air show will be preceded by a career exhibition on Friday, which will see about 1 500 learners from 25 schools in Gauteng and neighbouring provinces take part. Via the Department of Education, the youngsters have been encouraged to expose themselves to aviation and aviation careers, including in the SAAF.

Brigadier General Donovan Chetty, SAAF Director Corporate Staff Services, said the SAAF Museum Air Show is good preparation for Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) in September at Air Force Base Waterkloof. It is a chance to finetune and get ready for that event, both logistically and in terms of aircraft utilisation. He said that maximum effort is being made to get as many SAAF aircraft as possible to AAD 2024, even while Air Force assets are being used in various operational theatres.

The Gautrain will be one of the AAD partners again. Gautrain CEO Tshepo Kgobe said he treasures the collaboration between the SAAF and Gautrain. The Gautrain enables tourism, allows for destinations to be more accessible, and helps grow Gauteng, he affirmed. It also reduces vehicle traffic on the roads.

Tickets to the SAAF Museum Air Show are available from Ticketpros here.