The South African Air Force Museum celebrated vertical flight when more than twenty helicopters and gyrocopters flew into Swartkop during the museum’s monthly flying day.
The event that was held on Saturday the 5th of June 2010 was well attended and proved that the museum flying days are becoming increasingly popular with the public. Celebrating fifty years, the Alouette II took centre stage as Maj Gen Hugh Paine displayed the nimble little chopper to the appreciative crowd. The duo even made the Saturday evening news on SABC TV! Another welcome return to the public eye was the museum’s beautifully restored North American P-51D Mustang. The aircraft was repaired back to static condition for the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. 2 ‘Cheetah’ Squadron participated in this war between 1950 and 1954 and flew the Mustang and later the North American F-86 Sabre jet.
The South African Air Force operated eight Alouette II helicopters, the first of which was delivered in December 1960. Superseding the earlier Sikorsky S51 and S55 helicopters, which were piston powered, the Alo II was the first turbine-powered helicopter to enter SAAF service and saw initial service with 17 Squadron at Langebaanweg. All Alouette II’s were later transferred to the Helicopter Conversion unit at Ysterplaat for use as trainer aircraft and eventually withdrawn from service in the early 1970’s. The museum continues to maintain two of these French babes in flying condition.Capt Leon Steyn Historian,SAAF Museum