SAAF gains ten new pilots


The South African Air Force (SAAF) is ten pilots better off, as well as having an additional five navigators, six flight engineers and a loadmaster.

These members of the SAAF successfully completed their courses and were bestowed and commissioned with ranks and wings insignia at a parade held at AFB Langebaanweg on Thursday 4 December.

Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Fabian ‘Zakes’ Msimang, awarded the Wing brevet to the proud students of Pilot Wing Course 119. Immediately after having their Wings pinned to their chest, eight Candidate Officers were promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant, as one awardee was not able to be present and another already held the rank of Second Lieutenant.

The journey for Course 119 started with basic training, after which they completed officers forming in the second half of 2011. They then moved to the Military Academy at Saldanha to complete their first year of study in 2012. After undergoing a survival course at the end of 2012, they moved to AFB Langebaanweg to start their ground school phase in early 2013 after which their flying phase commenced on the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II until their qualification as pilots.

Accompanying them on parade were the five successful members of Navigator Wings Course 63, six flight engineers and a loadmaster who successfully completed his 100 hours practical flying phase.

Msimang noted in his address that it was two years ago that a SAAF C-47TP Dakota crashed in the Drakensburg mountains, killing eleven SAAF members. It was also pointed out that it was a year since the SANDF’s first democratically elected Commander in Chief, Nelson Mandela, passed away and a moment of silence was held to honour them.

Whilst it is generally the time of the year when achievements of the past year are reflected upon, Msimang said that those present should celebrate the future, with those on parade having answered the nation’s call to serve.
“I urge you to keep focus throughout your careers,” Msimang told them, “strive to grow the Air Force in size and stature, locally, regionally, continentally and globally.”

Transformation is still a central issue, specifically transformation of the mind-set, behaviour and the organisation. This included transformation in the cockpit and also the capturing of an all-inclusive Air Force history since 1920. To this end, Msimang has challenged all units and bases to have a museum room which would depict the history of that unit since inception, including detailing the politics of the time.

Msimang mentioned that the implementation of the new micro-structure was progressing well. This was based on principles that included clearer command, staff, directing, executing and communication lines. “Most importantly,” Msimang explained, “resources (would be brought) closer to execution.”

The reconfiguration of the Air Force Command bodies is nearing completion, with an envisaged implementation date being the middle of January 2015, whilst final completion of the reconfiguration of the Air Force HQ remains set for the end of March 2015.

Msimang said that the reconfiguration was an “extremely important and urgent processes that will make the transformation of the Air Force real and achievable.”

As in previous years, Msimang stressed the need for discipline. “As soldiers, the success of our Air Force will be underpinned by the enforcement of discipline and the concentration of functional, developmental and physical training. In other words,” Msimang stressed, “we have to head to the call of going back to basics. And I repeat, ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionality and patriotism.”

The SAAF Association floating trophy for the student who showed the greatest overall improvement was awarded to 2nd Lt NF Sweli.

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 Lt IJ Grobler. The Air Force Board Floating Trophy for the student who obtained the highest overall percentage during the flying phase of the Course was awarded to 2nd Lt C Rudman.

The prestigious Inkwazi Floating Trophy, awarded to the student who obtained the highest overall percentage on the Pilot’s Wings Course, was awarded to 2nd Lt Grobler, with a score of 82.3%.

The Air Navigation School Floating Trophy for the best overall navigation student was awarded to 2nd Lt SP Mahlangu, whilst the Jaco Steinberg Floating Trophy for the best overall flight engineer student went to Sgt S Siteto.