AS THE SOUTH AFRICAN Air Force Museum celebrated its opening to the public at Swartkop on May 15, special markings were the order of the day with two SAAF types attending. A full-blown airshow included demonstrations by a Cheetah E from Louis Trichardt and the only flying Mirage IIICZ on SAAF inventory, 809 — presumably from the Flight Test and Development Centre at Bredasdorp. A rarely seen Boeing 707 tanker from 60 Sqn at Waterkloof made a fly-by ‘towing’ three Mirage F.1AZs from Hoeaspruit. The event also marked the ‘official’ return to flying status of the SAAF Museum’s Historic Flight — previously grounded under recent defence reviews.
Celebrating a double anniversary was C- 130B Hercules 403 from 28 Sqn at Waterkloof. The unit was formed in Cairo on June 1, 1943, operating Dakotas. As well as 28’s 50th birthday, the unit has been operating the C-130B for 30 years. The original seven Herks have served without incident and the fleet has now clocked up 72,000 flying hours.
The show marked the retirement from service of 28’s other faithful workhorse, the Transall C-160Z. Deliveries started in 1969 and all nine were withdrawn from use earlier this year, with eight being stored at Waterkloof and available for disposal. C-160Z 337 gave a spirited display before shutting down for the last time and being handed over to the SAAF Museum.
Previously to be found at Langebaanweg in the extreme south, 83 Jet Flying Sqn relocated late last year to Hoedspruit in a move to concentrate the SAAF Impalas. Lang is now home to the Harvards of the SAAF’s CFS, previously based at the now closed Dunnotar. No 83 JFS have clocked up 25 years of Atlas Impala operations and Imp Mk II 1063 had been painted in a striking gannet colour scheme.