Forty years of preserving South Africa’s military aviation history will be marked with a massive 40 helicopter formation flypast at the SA Air Force (SAAF) Museum airshow on Saturday.
The annual airshow at AFB Zwartkop is the museum’s single largest fundraiser of the year and draws upwards of 50 000 aviation enthusiasts to the base on the Old Johannesburg Road in Centurion.
While participation of SAAF aircraft this year is limited due to budgetary constraints, Museum Officer Commanding Lieutenant Colonel Mike O’Connor is confident the show will again be one of the major attractions on the Gauteng and South African aviation calendars this year.
“We have confirmation the Silver Falcons will be taking part in the show. As this is the only public display for the SAAF’s crack aerobatic team this year they will definitely be a big attraction,” he said.
The 40 ship helicopter flypast will feature military and civilian rotorcraft in what O’Connor termed “a loose formation”.
Included in the rotary-winged formation will be Alouette II and IIIs, Puma, Huey and assorted Bell and Robinson types as well as a four-ship contingent from the SA Police Service Air Wing.
While there will be no Gripens or Hawks to thrill those present, there will be warbirds in the form of Cheetah, Impala, L-29, Hawker Hunter, Vampire and P-51 Mustang aircraft.
Tiger Moths, Pitts Specials and Harvards will be the backbone of the day’s aerobatic displays along with the Silver Falcons. Privately-owned DC-3 and 4s will be complemented by Mango‘s Boeing 737-800, which will display to music accompanied by a troupe of ballerinas on the ground. “This is a completely new routine for the airshow and we are excited about the airline’s participation, especially as Scully Levine will be at the controls,” O’Connor said.
This year’s edition of the Museum airshow is the first to be held under the auspices of the recently created joint command that includes AFB Zwartkop, the SAAF Mobile Air Deployment Wing at Snake Valley and the old SAAF Gymnasium, now home to the Siyandiza youth aviation awareness initiative and the air force’s cookery school.
It also marks a return to the use of the “Z” in the base name.