The SA Air Force (SAAF) has 17 newly minted pilots in its ranks, along with 10 new navigators and flight engineers.
They were presented with their brevets and half brevets on Friday at the annual SAAF wings parade at AFB Langebaanweg. The force’s complement of loadmasters was boosted by two with half brevets presented to corporals MG Cindi and MJ Matsoku at the same parade.
The new pilots, first lieutenants after being candidate officers for the flying training at the west coast base, are A Bunsi, MD Cant, AJ du Toit, K Fisher, S Gabela, SEF Gumede, KKT Kekana, MP Kekana, MW Kheleli, P Mahlakwana, TA Mathonsi, GI Mavuso, LSS Menze, D Mulomoni, L Ntsilimbela, R Radzuma and d TA Shingira.
They are joined at the lower officer rank by navigators LT Khumalo, H Makhado, DR Mogano, IM Nkadimeng and AR Theron. Sergeants MC Mazibuko, SC Mudzunga, AM Nevhorwa, RTN Sokhwivhilu and X Tshefu are now entitled to wear the navigator half brevet.
An address delivered on behalf on Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang, SAAF Chief, exhorted the new pilots, navigators and loadmasters to become “an even more integral component of the SAAF commitment in support of government initiatives to being peace and stability to our region and continent”.
The speech continues: “The SAAF is required to be a balanced, modern and flexible force employing component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) with a continuous focus on maintaining and advancing its technologies, strategies, personnel and operations. To remain relevant and in line with its constitutionally mandated obligations the SAAF has to maintain a robust, well trained and flexible air capability”.
This sees the airborne service of the SANDF maintain and continually enhance air capability through education, training and development.
The 100% pass rate achieved by pilot wings course 126 was, according to the prepared speech, against the “drawback on an underfunded air force”.
“The reality of having to maintain a combat ready force and invest in training an acceptable amount of aircrew is hampered by severe budget cuts and having to possibly downsize its human resource component – not an option,” according to the speech.