Lockdown level one does not open the door for the SA Air Force (SAAF) Museum to stage its major fundraiser – the annual airshow – and military aviation enthusiasts have to wait and see if the event takes place at all this year.
This is the second year running the popular airshow has not been staged in its usual May slot due to the coronavirus pandemic and national state of disaster regulations.
Confirmation of cancellation in the form of a message from the AFB Swartkop museum reads: “SAAF Museum would like to host its annual airshow as it allows the unit to generate much-needed funds that help to maintain the air force’s historic flight. The current national and global pandemic continues to frustrate all plans.
“To date, it is safe to say the 2021 instalment will not happen, at least not in May.”
The SAAF Museum has its headquarters at the oldest air base in the force – AFB Swartkop, adjacent to the former SAAF Gymnasium in Valhalla. It also has branches in Eastern Cape (AFB Port Elizabeth) and Western Cape (AFB Ysterplaat).
It is not classed as an operational unit and is way down the list when it comes to funding from the SAAF component of the defence budget. This is mostly confined to consumables with the personnel component of the museum largely reliant on Reserve Force personnel. This, in turn, is dependent on the manday allocation of the part-time component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) with deployments in support of government efforts to combat COVID-19 taking precedence.
The Museum notes it re-introduced general flying on “a gradual basis” for aircrew to maintain currency. The almost traditional first Saturday of each month flying training day has not yet made it back to the ops list.