The SA Air Force (SAAF) is not telling, despite being asked, where one of its C-130BZs was going when it landed on the island of St Helena.
The aging transporter landed on the Atlantic Ocean island’s new airport early last week and a photograph of it was posted by a local. It obviously attracted attention, not only for being the first South African military aircraft to land there but also because of reported wind shear problems associated with landings and take-offs for civilian airliners.
According to Facebook the Hercules made a technical stop at St Helena on Tuesday, July 18 at about 9.25am. Depending on weather conditions she was due to take-off an hour later.
Military analyst Darren Olivier noted “there is nothing for the SAAF to do in St Helena, but it is useful as a halfway refuelling and rest stop on the way to Brazil”.
“A technical stop is another term for a fuel or service stop at a location that is not the destination and where passengers and cargo are usually disembarked. In this case, it appears to mean St Helena was not the C-130’s destination, it just refuelled to get the range to fly somewhere else.”
defenceWeb along with Olivier and Dean Wingrin’s Unofficial SAAF Website all submitted formal requests through official SAAF and SANDF media liaison channels asking what the aircraft’s tasking was and the reason for landing at St Helena.
No response was received, not even “acknowledgment of receipt” Wingrin noted a week later.
According to a source at Lanseria International Airport the same C-130 was flight planned yesterday (Wednesday, July 26) from St Helena to AFB Waterkloof where 28 Squadron is based.
At the time of publication defenceWeb had still not received any response from either SAAF Corporate Services or the SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communications so it appears an ageing but still well-maintained and eminently airworthy C-130BZ went off “into the wild blue yonder” and returned safely.
Picutre: Via the Unofficial SAAF Website