SAAF Museum gears up for 2016 air show


A race between the Gautrain and an Alouette II helicopter on Tuesday morning was used to highlight the South African Air Force Museum’s annual air show at Air Force Base Zwartkop on Saturday, which promises to be supported by active SA Air Force (SAAF) aircraft along with dozens of private warbirds and museum aircraft.

Tasked with maintaining South Africa’s military aviation heritage, the South African Air Force Museum uses the air show as its main fundraising activity. A total of 13 Museum aircraft will take part in the flying display on 7 May, including Harvards, Alouette II, Alouette III and Puma helicopters, the Patchen Explorer, Vampire, Bosbok, Kudu and others.

Private aircraft on the lineup include the Albatross, Alouettes, Auster, Bell helicopters, DC-3, Gazelle and Cheetah fighter jet. The South African Air Force has pledged to make all its platforms available for the air show, but it is too soon to confirm what exactly will be taking part in the flying displays. Just Love Mission’s Antonov An-2 biplane will also be in attendance at Zwartkop.

Gates open to the public at 7:00 on Saturday. Although the show programme officially starts at 9:00 and ends at 17:00, it will be preceded by mass paramotor and gyrocopter flypasts.

The South African Army Engineer Formation is responsible for a pyrotechnic display. Netcare 911 will be taking part in the air show with vehicles on the ground and helicopters in the air. The SA Military Health Services will also be displaying some of their capabilities, along with all other branches of the South African National Defence Force, which will be on the lookout for new recruits. The South African Police Service will bring their Air Wing along to display some of their capabilities. A number of flying schools will exhibit in order to provide information on becoming a pilot.

Friday will be an aviation career day for scholars, supported by Mango Airlines, Siyandiza and various flight schools. Around 2 000 scholars are expected to visit AFB Zwartkop as part of an effort to promote aviation awareness and transformation in the cockpit and honour South Africa’s aviation history and Air Force in a democracy.

This is the first Museum air show for its new Officer Commanding, Lieutenant Colonel Thor Fredericks, who took up his post at the beginning of March. He replaced Lieutenant Colonel Mike O’Connor who headed the Museum for four years. Fredericks said that the Museum is undergoing maintenance to bring balance to the South African Air Force’s history, with exhibits on pre-integration forces such as MK, Apla and the TBVC states.

The SAAF Museum air show has been voted the best air show in South Africa twice in the last four years. This year’s theme is Aviation Through the Ages. Paramount is a major sponsor of the show, and has provided financial support including fuel.

More information can be found at Tickets are R80 an adult while children under 16 are admitted free of charge.