For the first time in the last 10 years, the SA Air Force (SAAF) will this year mark its establishment on the day it became an operational part of the then Union Defence Force.
February 1, 1920, is when Colonel (later Sir) Pierre van Ryneveld, was appointed Director: Air Services with instructions to establish an air force for the then Union of South Africa.
On Saturday the SAAF will stage its annual Air Force Day parade at AFB Waterkloof in Centurion with SAAF Chief, Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang, on the podium as the review officer.
The parade is scheduled to start at 5pm and will not, as in past years, feature a major flypast by SAAF various aircraft ranging from jet fighters, through transports and trainers to helicopters.
Invited guests will see a flypast of Oryx helicopters carrying the national, SANDF and SAAF flags.
SAAF Director: Corporate Staff Services, Brigadier General Marthie Visser, said the parade will not be open to the public.
Saturday’s parade marks the 94th anniversary of the SAAF, the second oldest independent air force in the world after the Royal Air Force (RAF).
With a paucity of aircraft on display at Waterkloof this weekend, military aviation enthusiasts would be well advised to diarise the following Saturday and head for the SAAF Museum at nearby AFB Zwartkop.
February 8 will be the Museum’s first flying training day of this year with its customary first Saturday of the month date having to be pushed out a week due to the Air Force Day parade. The December flying training day was cancelled due to the death of Nelson Mandela meaning military aviation buffs have not had their monthly flying fix at AFB Zwartkop for three months.
Museum Officer Commanding Lieutenant Colonel Mike O’Connor told defenceWeb the flying training day would be “a full one”.
The Museum’s Vampire will take to the air with Colonel Rama Iyer at the controls as will its Alouette II and III, Albatross, Patchen, Kudu and Bosbok aircraft. O’Connor is also hopeful of having a four ship Harvard formation in the air on February 8.