New AAD exhibition director

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There’s a new person in command and control of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition set down for 18 to 22 September at Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof in Centurion.

Nakedi Phasha is no stranger to AAD, having been part of four – three as the staffer responsible for marketing and communications and one as an exhibitor.

She officially took over from previous exhibition director Michelle Nxumalo in November and becomes the third woman in the director’s chair of the 14-year-old exhibition. Leona Redlinghuys was the first to break what is generally termed “the glass ceiling” of men in the top positions at what is regarded as Africa’s premier defence and related sectors exhibition.

Phasha has committed to a five-year contract as AAD exhibition director and is nose to the grindstone to ensure AAD 2024 surpasses previous ones. Air Force Base Ysterplaat in Cape Town hosted AAD in 2006, 2008 and 2010 while major upgrades were underway on run- and taxiways at Waterkloof.

AAD has its origins in the Africa Aerospace civilian component of the 1975 Lanseria Air Show. It was the first of what came to be known as Aviation Africa at Lanseria hosted jointly by the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA) and World Airnews.

1995 saw another step nearer for AAD when AMD (the SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association) organised and hosted SAAF 75, an exhibition dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the SA Air Force. AFB Waterkloof, the SAAF transport hub or centre of excellence as it was once called, hosted SAAF 75.

The success of SAAF 75 saw demand for an expanded military exhibition and air show which culminated in AMD and CAASA partnering for Aerospace Africa at the Centurion base. The 1998 exhibition, according to AAD, attracted 254 trade exhibitors from 21 countries.

Come 2000, Aerospace Africa combined with the Armscor-organised DEXSA (Defence Exhibition of SA) and AAD became a reality. The defence and security state-owned enterprise organised and presented a number of DEXSAs in the nineties at AFB Waterkloof and the nearby Gerotek and Paardefontein test facilities for vehicles. Excursions to Simon’s Town and Alkantpan allowed exhibition delegates to see the SA Navy (SAN) up close and personal as well as the artillery prowess of the locally designed and manufactured G5 and G6 artillery pieces.

The first AAD was hosted by AMD, CAASA and Armscor with support from government in the form of the Department of Defence (DoD) and the then Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), now the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC).

Since 2012 AAD has been back at its place of birth with that year’s exhibition attracting 40 000 plus trade visitors from 28 countries, 120 visiting delegations and 84 aircraft.