Author: Winston Brent
Reviewed By: Dean Wingrin
The main purpose of the Silver Falcons team, the official aerobatic team of the SAAF, is to enhance the image of the Air Force by displaying their capability to do precision formation aerobatics and as such, to instill the passion for aviation in the youth and future Air Force members.
Unlike many other air forces, the Silver Falcons are not a full-time team, but are made up of instructors and ground crew from the Central Flying School responsible for the ab initio flying training of the SAAF. They practice after regular working hours and perform most of their displays over weekends.
Since Col Chris Prins started the Silver Falcons in 1967, 350 displays have been performed with the Impala Mk I, while a further 174 displays have been performed with the PC-7 Mk II Astra up to the date of publication, namely 7 October 2007.
What better way to celebrate 40 years of flying excellence than with a book. This book pays tribute to the 89 pilots of the Silver Falcons who have performed aerobatics as the official aerobatic team and the ground crews.
The book is not intended to be the definitive history of the Silver Falcons, but a pictorial history, with written submissions by most of the 16 leaders of the team over its 40-year history.
A brief history is provided on the team, including the 'Bumbling Bees', which was originally formed in 1953 by Commandant Chris Prins of the Air Operation School (AOS) at Langebaanweg, flying Harvards and later Vampire FB Mk9s. However, the Bumbling Bees disbanded when the AOS moved to AFB Pietersburg at the end of 1967.
Impala Mk Is were used for an aerobatic performance at the opening of the Atlas factory in November 1967, with the team being Cmdt Chris Prins. Realising the potential of this aircraft, Cmdt Chris Prins re-formed his aerobatic team in late November 1968, but the new name "Silver Falcons" was only adopted at a later stage. From then on the team regularly stole the show with their world-class performances in silver aircraft. The aircraft are standard Impala Mk Is, although with smoke generator equipment in place of the second seat. Even the silver colour schme was standard for the Impala training fleet.
A new scheme was adopted in 1985, of a generally silver aircraft painted with striping in the colours of the Republic: orange, white and royal blue.
With the rationalisation process in South Africa, the team adopted a new colour scheme of dark blue, white and arctic blue. The first performance of the team in their new colour scheme was a 6 ship display (trailing smoke of the new national colours) at the Presidential Inauguration of Nelson Mandela on 10 May 1994.
The last display by the Silver falcons flying the Impala was Team 51 in September 1997. Due to budgetary and other restrictions, the team became dormant for two years. The first display by the new Silver Falcon Team 52 in October 1999 introduced the Astra as the new team mount.
A chapter is devoted to each team, with an introduction by the team leader and many photographs. Chapters are devoted to flying formation aerobatics and the various popular formations. Also included are details of the various cloth badges and colour schemes for the modelers.
The book concludes with a list of all the team leaders, the composition of all the teams, a complete listing of all team members and finally, a complete Silver Falcon display log from display 1 on 24 November 1967 at the official opening of Atlas to display 524 on 7 October 2007 at Mafikeng.
This book is a must for all SAAF enthusiasts as well as for airshow display team aficionados.21 x 30 cm, 173 pages.