The SA Air Force’s (SAAF) Silver Falcons aerobatic team will take to the skies for nine displays this year with crowds at next month’s Navy Festival the first to see the team strut its stuff in 2014.
Also confirmed is a display at the SAAF Museum airshow at AFB Zwartkop on May 10 with September’s Aerospace Africa and Defence (AAD) exhibition at nearby AFB Waterkloof “just about confirmed” Falcon leader, Major Beau Skarda, told defenceWeb from the team’s home base at AFB Langebaanweg.
The re-appearance of the Falcons on the South African airshow circuit at major airshows follows a public commitment made last October by Major General Wiseman Mlambo, General Officer Commanding SAAF Air Command.
The Falcons were effectively grounded for the whole of last year with the exception of an appearance at the SAAF Museum airshow on May 11. This was in line with the austerity measures instituted by the SAAF senior command.
Speaking at AFB Waterkloof ahead of last year’s Air Capability Demonstration (ACD) at the Roodewal bombing range in Limpopo, Mlambo said the decision for the Falcons to return to the airshow circuit was taken at SAAF Command Council level.
“It is an air force decision. The Falcons will continue to do their business. We will make sure they continue,” the two star general said.
In addition to appearances at the Navy Festival in Simon’s town from March 14 to 16, the SAAF Museum and AAD the Falcons will be displaying at another six airshows.
“We are not 100% sure of the exact shows the Falcons will be displaying at this year with final details still having to be ironed out,” Skarda said adding “in line” with past appearances the five distinctly painted Pilatus PC-7 Mk11 Astras would “spread the SAAF message as widely as possible across the country”.
The current Falcons team is number 74 and dates back to 1966 when the Aermacchi MB-326 Impala Mk1 was used by the team, under the leadership of Commandant Chris Prins. The Impala was replaced by the Astra in October 1999, with Lieutenant Colonel Dave Knoesen as leader.
In September 2008, the now well-known aircraft livery, portraying a falcon’s head and wings, was unveiled for the first time at AFB Langebaanweg.