The Silver Falcons certainly have been flying the flag for the South African Air Force (SAAF) this year with no less than five public appearances in the first five months and more to come.
This is in direct contrast to 2013 when the crack aerobatic team was just about grounded as part of the air force’s cost saving measures.
Led by Major Werner “Cruncher” Vermaak, the current Silver Falcons team is number 78. The other team members are Major Shaun Constable and Captains Jacque Poolman, Mark Gentles and Marc Bennett.
To date this year they have thrilled crowds with their skill at the Mossel Bay Diaz Festival, Fashkosh at Stellenbosch and the Lowveld Air Show as well as the SAAF Museum Air Show earlier this month and the Navy Festival in April.
Still to come for the Falcons are displays at the Newcastle (Saturday, May 30), Zandspruit (June 13), Bethlehem (August 15) and Grand Rand air shows (August 23). Team 78 is also scheduled to fly at the national Heritage Day celebrations on September 24 and the International Civil Aviation Day on December 5. The venues for these two events have not yet been made public.
That means by year-end the Falcons will have made 11 public appearances “proudly representing the SAAF and its personnel”, a far cry from 2013 when they were effectively a non-starter as budget cuts bit deep.
Silver Falcons team one was led by Commandant Chris Prins from June 1967 to May 1968.