Air Force Day will, as usual, be marked by the SA Air Force (SAAF) on the closest Friday to February 1, widely accepted as the founding date of one of the world’s oldest independent air forces.
This means January 29 will this year be the day the SAAF marks its 96th anniversary.
There will be an added extra in the title of the day which, defenceWeb has learnt, will this year be known as the Air Force Prestige Day. This ties in with the SAAF Prestige Awards which are presented the evening before Air Force Day when units and squadrons are honoured for achievements in the past 12 months.
Awards are made for the Permanent Flying Unit of the Year, the Reserve Squadron of the Year, the Support Unit of the Year, the Base of the Year, Fire and Rescue Services of the Year, Unit Aviation Safety Award, Protection Squadron of the Year, Air Servicing Unit of the Year, Operational Support Unit of the Year, Air Command Directorate of the Year, Training Unit of the Year and the Royal Air Force Training Award.
The Sword of Peace award is also made at the Prestige Award evening function, usually held at SAAF College in Thaba Tshwane. It goes to the SAAF base or unit which in the year has contributed exceptional humanitarian achievements which have created and maintained good relations between the base/unit and the local and international community.
As with recent commemorations the Air Force Day parade will again take place at AFB Waterkloof in Centurion and will also feature a passing out parade of successful SAAF military skills development (MSD) volunteers following their two years in uniform.
No confirmation has yet been received from the SAAF but it has been reliably learnt the parade will take place in the late afternoon allowing for a flypast featuring flares. There is also no official information on the flypast regarding the number of aircraft taking part. defenceWeb has learnt, at this stage, the flypast it will in all probability only be a single Cheetah, currently in the Denel Aviation inventory.
The parade and flypast also marks the end of the SAAF 95th anniversary year, marked in the main by a flypast of SAAF Museum aircraft at last year’s Air Force Day parade. Guests at the 2015 Prestige Awards evening were presented with commemorative SAAF 95 coffee mugs.