Home Forum Shop Alumni
For more information, please contact the
SAAF Recruitment Office:

SA Air Force Headquarters
Air Command
(Directorate Human Resource Services)
Recruitment Office
Private Bag X199


Fax: (012) 312 2138

Phone: (012) 312 2148 / 2609

Department of Defence Career website: www.careers.mil.za


Apply Now
Pupil pilots will be stationed at the Central Flying School at Air Force Base Langebaanweg for the Basic Flying Phase (ab initio phase).

The following subjects will be presented:

Ground phase:
  • Aerodynamics
  • Navigation
  • Electronic warefare
Flying Phase:
Pupil pilots will be required to master the Astra, including:
  • Simulation exercises
  • General flying
  • Formations
  • Instrument flying
  • Navigational flying
  • Night flying

Ground School and Flying Phase

It is during this stage that the pupil pilot is introduced to the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II Astra, 60 of which were delivered between October 1994 and the end of 1996. Ground training includes every aspect of flight instruction and makes extensive use of computer based training. A Cockpit Procedural Trainer (CPT) is also used in conjunction with the Astra. Although some 'pupes' may already have a private pilot's license, all are treated as if they have had no previous experience.

The course has been based upon that conducted by the RAF with the Shorts Tucano, adjusted to suite South African conditions. Pupil pilots will be required to master the , Pilatus PC7 MkII Astra trainer. The student pilot will undertake their first solo flight after about 16 hours and during the course of the year will have flown 185 hours in the Astra and spent 40 hours in the CPT.

The course is designed to lead the student through all aspects of flight operations, with ten sections to be mastered. These include formation, high, low level and night flying. The student/instructor ratio is 2:1 during the flying phase. In spite of the demanding syllabus, approximately 75% of the students selected graduate.

Pupil pilots qualify after a period of approximately 2 years and 7 months training and more or less 210 flying hours. Both pilot and navigator courses are completed at the same time when the pupils receive their wings with due pomp and ceremony.

On completion of the flying phase, a selection board will be convened to determine in which line function a pilot will be utilised, namely: Fighter line, Helicopter line (including maritime) or Transport line (including maritime).

Criteria used for the allocation of pilots to various line functions:
  • Need of the Air Force
  • Results and achievements on course
  • Own preference
  • Recommendation by flying instructor
Pilots will be transferred to one of the following Air Force institutions for further training in their line function, before being utilised at the various squadrons of the SA Air Force:
  • Fighter line - 85 Combat Flying School
  • Transport line - 41 Sqn
  • Helicopter line - Private contractor and 87 Helicopter Flying School.

Advanced Flying Training

After graduation, pilots selected for fighter training are assigned to 85 Combat Flying School, AFB Hoedspruit, for the basic jet conversion course.

Pilots destined to fly helicopters or transports receive instruction with 87 Helicopter Flying School at AFB Bloemspruit (with basic helicopter training performed at Starlight Aviation in Durban) and 41 Squadron at AFB Waterkloof respectively.

The Fighter Orientation Course (FOC) lasts seven months during which the two-seat Hawk is used. Phase One and Two involves conversion to the Hawk, general, instrument, close formation, night flying and medium and low level navigation (three months and 38 hours).

Phase Three is the introduction to basic fighter flying and includes a tactical phase (battle formation, low and medium level tactical flying, pre-planned strike and photo reconnaissance), a weapons phase (bombs, 30mm cannon) and an air warfare phase (fighter manoeuvres and air-to-air firing) (three months and 35 hours).

On completion of this FOC, students will be re-assessed and then either be recommended for instructors course or to gain further experience and return for flight leaders course after 3 years as an instructor or to continue on the consolidation phase prior to the flight leaders course. After a period of 9 months, the selected candidates should be ready to start the next level of training.


Operational Training Course

The phase consists of a further 117 hours over a period of six months.


Consolidation Phase

The phase consists of a further 200 hours over a period of twelve months.


Flight Leaders Course

During the three month (40 hour) flight leader's course, very little theory training is done and it is expected of the student to give lectures and briefings, on which leadership, squadron operation and management is assessed.

During the Tactical Phase, all aspects of tactical flying and weapons delivery are covered, concentrating on leadership aspects. All aspects of single and multiple air combat and leadership aspects are specifically emphasised and assessed during the Air Warfare Phase.

After this course, pilots are once again assessed for maturity and suitability and after another consolidation phase will be routed to a high speed fighter unit for further training or instructors course at the flying school.


Strike Leaders Course

This course consists of 20 hours over one month.


Instructor Qualified Pilots

These candidates follow the same route as above to the Flight Leaders consolidation phase. On completion of this phase, these candidates will do a basic fighter instructor course. This course runs in conjunction with an FOC on which these candidates will give instruction and lectures. The Instructos conversion course lasts 3 months and covers 38 hours.

After completion of this phase, the pilot will serve an instructional tour at 85 CFS of between 2 and 5 years.


Pilot Attack Instructors Course

This course consists of 25 hours over one month.