Swatkop to undergo name and title changesDate: 1 April 2012
By Clinton Barnard
Ministerial approval is presently being sought for the official change of both title and name from the present 'Swartkop' to 'Air Force Base Zwartkop'.
The change has been motivated by base closures in the UK which have now rendered Swartkop as the oldest continuously active extant flying facility in the history of world military aviation! To emphasize the historicity of this fact, the original spelling of 'Zwartkop', will be resurrected.
Following the original selection of land for a planned aerodrome, for what eventually became Swartkop, in about 1920 a private farm called Zwartkop was expropriated by the Government of the day. This farm had itself been named after a nearby prominent hill. The Dutch spelling of Zwartkop was retained for the Air Station that was subsequently developed. On April 1, 1949, the Dutch spelling was dropped in favour of the English and resulted in Air Force Station (AFS) Swartkop. On February 1, 1968, the AFS was upgraded to a fully fledged Air Force Base (AFB). A number of detailed minimum requirements have to be met before a South African Air Force Station can fully qualify for Base status.
Although the titling on the walls outside Swartkop's main entrance proudly welcomes observers to 'Air Force Base Swartkop', this appellation is technically incorrect, since Swartkop last officially relinquished its AFB status as long ago as March 31, 1999, as a result of the austerity measures being implemented at that time.
Since that date, Swartkop has been under the administrative control of nearby AFB Waterkloof and has to therefore correctly be known simply as 'Swartkop'. However, this is also set to change. Since about September 2011, evidence of increasing independence from AFB Waterkloof has already come to the fore, with administrative segregation being apparent in that official meetings concerning Swartkop, that had previously been held at Waterkloof as a matter of course, are now being held at Swartkop itself.
A few more conditions need yet to be satisfied before the title of an AFB can once again proudly be worn for the second time in this facility's long and illustrious history .
Today, Swartkop continues to be called home to the SAAF Museum Headquarters and the only operational composite military helicopter flying unit in Gauteng Province, 17 Squadron, with its Atlas Oryx and AgustaWestland A109LUH equipment, among other units.
Source: Global Aviator