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Newly minted SAAF pilots get their wings

Date: 11 December 2019

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The South African Air Force (SAAF) has 12 new pilots in its ranks, after a Wings Parade at Air Force Base Langebaanweg in the Western Cape last week.

The Wings Parade took place on 5 December and saw the Chief of the SAAF, Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang, present 12 Pilot’s Wings, two Flight Engineer’s Wings, one Load Master Wings and five Flight Attendant’s Wings.

“The consequences of the budget constraints have been well documented and we are hopeful for this to be better in the future. We aim never to succumb to these challenges and constraints that could prevent us from remaining innovative,” Msimang said.

Central Flying School Commanding Officer Donovan Chetty is reported by the Cape Argus as saying, “The Air Force crew train and prepare to be combat ready at any time. For this reason we emphasise in the training if there should be an emergency for us to assist with peacekeeping in our neighbouring countries.”

“The pilot staff of the SAAF are expected to be medically sound, have good motor skills, psychomotor skills and academic success. The course that the pilots have passed could be considered one of the most difficult ones in the defence force,” he said.

Deputy Chief of the SAAF, Brigadier General Mzayifani Innocent Buthelezi said, according to the Cape Argus, “The more resources there are, the more qualified pilots we can produce. If there are not enough aircraft to fly, pilots may also end up leaving the air force.”

Addressing the new members of the SAAF, Msimang said, “as the Chief of the SA Air Force I call on all you men to be exemplary at home, at work and in society. Show up with respect and dignity and discipline as a boyfriend, partner or husband. Be chivalrous. If you have committed to be in a monogamous relationship do so with dignity and respect for yourself and your partner, it is not difficult, it just requires discipline and commitment.

“There are some cases of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) allegations and I pledge my full support to the initiatives within the Department of Defence to decisively address the alleged scourge of SEA. May there be no room for sexual exploitation and abuse and fraternization in this SAAF!

“As we mark the 16 days of activism against Women and Children Abuse: may we, as soldiers be exemplary in our respect to the women and children in our respective communities; our homes and our working environment all year round, and at all times. To the men in uniform, let us be the candle of hope of a gender sensitive South Africa that nurtures, supports and protect the women and children and loved ones.”

The wings insignia and rank commission parade ended with a four-ship aerobatic display by PC-7 MK II trainer aircraft.

“Congratulations on the newly qualified members and we, as the SA Air Force community, wish you a long and prosperous career in the SA Air Force,” the SAAF said.

During the December 2018 Wings Parade at Langebaanweg, the SAAF added 17 new pilots to its ranks, along with ten new navigators and flight engineers. They were presented with their brevets and half brevets on Friday 7 December 2018. The SAAF’s complement of loadmasters was boosted by two during the parade. The new additions went on to serve on Oryx, BK 117, C-130BZ, C-47TP, Hawk and Gripen aircraft. At the time, the SAAF said the newly qualified members would be deployed, amongst others, to fight against cross-border criminality such as hijacking of vessels and counterfeit goods, as well as rhino-poaching.

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