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Impala farewell ceremony

Date: 18 October 2005

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In the early sixties the SAAF embarked on a long-overdue modernisation programme to replace Harvards and Vampires utilised as pilot trainers. Several aircraft types were evaluated for suitability to manufacture locally. The Italian Macchi MB-326, brainchild of Dr I.E. Bazzochi, then general manager of Aeronautica Macchi, was eventually chosen. A design that was originally proposed in 1954, flew a mere three years afterwards.

After the South African government obtained a manufacturing licence in 1964, the first aircraft was shipped in and assembled in the workshops of AFB Ysterplaat. Tail number 460, a dual-seat MKI, was test-flown in May and officially handed over to the SAAF on 3 June 1966.

Since that day, 151 MKI dual seat and 100 MKII single seat aircraft were manufactured. This aircraft saw service as a trainer for many pilots and ground-crew members, an operational light attack fighter, had a long and illustrious career and was an all-time favourite at air shows in "The Silver Falcons" aerobatic team and much more. Unfortunately, this all has to end on 30 November 2005 when the last few of these fine aircraft have to be phased out finally to make way for newer aircraft.

If you had played an active role as either a ground - or aircrew member somewhere in all of this for the past forty years, 5 months and 27 days, would you not be interested in attending a parade and closing-down function in order to pay your last tribute to this fine little Italian?

If so, then contact Mrs Lida Venter at AFB Hoedspruit at (015) 799 2129 or fax (015) 799 2483 for details on the event, due to take place on 30 November 2005 at AFB Hoedspruit.


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