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SAAF rescues aviation enthusiasts with virtual airshows

Date: 1 April 2020

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By Dean Wingrin

The South African Air Force (SAAF) has come to the rescue of aviation enthusiasts throughout South Africa who, whilst in Covid-19 lockdown, are suffering withdrawal symptoms.

All public gatherings of more than 100 persons, which includes airshows, were banned with the establishment of the national State of Disaster on 15 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic. This led to the cancellation of the Stellenbosch airshow which was due to be held on 21 March.

Then, to make matters worse, the SAAF Museum Centenary airshow meant to commemorate 100 years of the founding of the SAAF, set down for 9 May at AFB Swartkop, was cancelled. This was in terms of the SAAF instruction regarding COVID 19 which stated that “all corporate events over the period 16 March to 31 May are cancelled with immediate effect” and “all SAAF support to government and public events is suspended over period 16 March 2020 to 31 May 2020.”

Then the subsequent 21-day lockdown which commenced in South Africa on the morning of 27 March put paid to any plane spotting and photographic opportunities that enthusiasts had in mind.

In an effort to boost the mental well-being of aviation enthusiasts throughout South Africa, the SAAF has decided to stream virtual airshows over the internet.

SAAF spokesperson Hofnar Isidenge told www.saairforce.co.za that due to tight budgets over the past decade, the SAAF has invested heavily in simulators for the training of pilots and aircrew.

“Our pilots are already flying the flight simulators, all we’ll do is hook them up to the internet so that anyone can view their displays,” he explained, “We’ll just coordinate it so that the pilots train one after the other.”

This is sure to be welcome news for all aviation enthusiasts, but Isidenge had more good news: “We recognise that taking photographs is a major attraction at an airshow, so we’ll also replay certain displays in slow motion so that viewers can take photos of the screen.”

The SAAF is to be congratulated for taking this innovative step during these trying times.

Note: This article was originally written as an April Fools prank and should not be taken seriously.


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