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104 Years Celebration of a Collective Heritage and History of the SA Air Force

Date: 5 February 2024

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Every birthday is a symbol of a new beginning and a new phase. The South African Air Force held a Prestige Parade at Swartkop Mobile Deployment Wing on 01 February 2024 to celebrate the 104th birthday in style. 
The SA Air Force band graced the audience with the sweet melodies for the wing march and the arrival of the Review Officer: Lieutenant General W.S Mbambo (Chief of the Air Force) and his entourage. “Put God first and everything will fall in a proper place,” Chaplain Thibedi Ndala opened the ceremony with a scripture reading and prayer.
Lieutenant General W.S Mbambo said, “As we gather to celebrate the long collective heritage and history of the SA Air Force that spurn over 104 years to date. We thank God for his faithfulness over our organisation, the country and our people. We have passed through tribulations and storms but through his enduring grace we are still standing”.
The birthday celebration had the 2023 achievements of the SA Air Force Directorates, Bases, Units and Squadron in mind, to officially announce the most improved Base for the SA Air Force. The office of the Inspector General on the completion of their evaluation, calculated the scores for each directorate, unit, bases and squadron and came to the conclusion that Air Force Base Overberg is the top achiever of the year 2023.
“Let us again congratulate the Base of the year, Air Force Base Overberg and all the runner-ups who also put a sterling effort in their performance,” said Lieutenant General Mbambo.
In the keynote address, the Review Officer mentioned “We must be awakened to the fact that time is not on our side- we cannot afford to postpone our tasks that are set on the implementation programme. There is nothing like the right time under the conditions we are in. I subscribe to George Herbert’s assertion, DO NOT WAIT, THE TIME WILL NEVER BE JUST RIGHT.  Start where you stand and work with whatever tools you may have at your command. Better tools will be found as you go. The sense of urgency of what we must do to push forward must permeate throughout the SA Air Force”.
The SA Air Force is continuously ploughing the right seeds in the hearts and minds of the SA Air Force as well as all relevant role players. The advantage they have is that there are many travellers on this road as evidenced by their several official visits globally. They have engaged other Air Forces on matters of space power and gained valuable insight into the best practices and paths to be avoided. The space command team is instructed to accelerate in these endeavours and use the information to guide the way forward.
The Prestige Parade was sealed with a very well-received Fly Past and Hawk MK120 Lead in Fighter Trainer Air Display. Commentated by the SA Air Force’s very own Lieutenant Colonel Tlou Joyce Shoroma in the following sequence:
1.    5-ship Helicopter formation commanded by Major Corrie Oberholzer, callsign Serrano, BK117 Commander and they consisted of the Puma (S330), Alloutte ll, Alloutte lll, BK117 and Rooivalk.
2.    5-ship Astra formation led by Major Kabelo Maleka, callsign Rocky, an A category flying instructor and consisted of PC7 MkII Aircraft.
3.    2-ship Josan formation led by Lieutenant Colonel Guy DuSautoy, callsign Darkwing, and consisted of the SA Air Force’s VVIP Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) and Falcon 50 aircraft.
4.    4-ship Hawk Mk120 Lead in fighter trainer, and the formation leader was Major Kgosimang Seeco, callsign Cipher, Operations Officer at 85 Combat Flying School.
5.   A display performed by Hawk Mk120 Lead in Fighter Trainer flown by Lieutenant Colonel Scott Alexander Logi callsign Prowler, Officer Commanding 85 Combat Flying School, Air Force Base Makhado.
6.    3-ship Gripen Formation led by Lt Col Phumelele Ndzuta, callsign Rogue, Operations Officer at 2 Squadron.
Article by Miss Boitumelo Bapela || Ad Astra Magazine Intern and Photographs by Captain Jacques de Vries || SA Army and Sergeant Kea Khori

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