Ramaphosa inauguration looks to be a day to remember for aircraft spotters

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When Cyril Ramaphosa is inaugurated as President of South Africa for his second term of office tomorrow (Wednesday, 19 June) it will happen at the country’s administrative headquarters – the Union Buildings – and not as in 2019 at Loftus Versfeld 2.3 km to the south-east.

And while by far the majority of those attending will look skyward when the roar of jet engines, throb of helicopter turbines and the distinctive whine of the PC-7 Mk II are heard, military aviation enthusiasts – it appears – are in for a treat.

Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof was a hive of activity over the weekend, headlined by six Hawk Mk 120s from 85 Combat Flying School at AFB Makhado; four PC-7 Mk IIs from Central Flying School at AFB Langebaanweg, and a lone 15 Squadron Rooivalk ex-AFB Bloemspruit.

Other more local SAAF aircraft using airspace above the administrative capital to practice included Inkwazi, the Presidential BBJ operated by 21 Squadron, a 44 Squadron CASA 212 and a few kilometres to the west a mixed flight of five Oryx medium transport and Agusta light utility helicopters, presumably on the inventory of 17 Squadron. The squadron is a long-time occupant of what was AFB Swartkop now known as the Air Force Mobile Deployment Wing (AF MDW).

At the Union Buildings where Ramaphosa will be inaugurated as President and leader of democratic South Africa’s seventh administration by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will be a major contributor to the pageantry of the occasion.

Leading the way will be the National Ceremonial Guard (NCG) with its own military band. Other military elements include a mixed battalion, with the four SANDF services represented, marchpast, and a 21-gun salute.

The SANDF said its participation in the inauguration event symbolises its support for the President-elect, who becomes the Commander-in-chief of the SA National Defence Force, the head of state, and the head of government.