SAA Honours Democracy at Presidential Inauguration with Special Flypast


In honour of South Africa’s 25 years of democracy South African Airways (SAA) this weekend participated in what has become the signature flypast during the inauguration ceremony of President Cyril Ramaphosa as the 5th President of the Republic of South Africa.

The flypast was executed in a uniform formation and collaboration with the South African Air Force over the skylines of Loftus Versfeld Stadium today at approximately 12h35.

“As the airline we take pride in participating in events of this nature in recognition of democracy and social cohesion. This is an opportunity to showcase and register our appreciation to our government and the people of this country, the best way we know how – through flying in spectacular manoeuvres like we did today,” said SAA Spokesperson, Tlali Tlali.

A Big Statement  

SAA operated two of its biggest aircraft in its fleet, the Airbus A340-600. One of the formation crew members was SAA’s Chief Pilot, Captain Vusi Khumalo who himself joined the airline as one of the first four Black African pilots in 1994 when Africans were for the first time allowed to operate as pilots.

Other members of the crew were Captain Andre Steenkamp, Captain Mark Dethian, Senior First Officer (SFO) Monde Gxoyiya, Captain Pierre Gouws, SFO Hennie Badenhorst and SFO Julian Whitelaw.

The crew that operated the flypast are especially trained and accredited to perform manoeuvres of this nature.

A Phenomenal Air Display

The SAA teams took off from OR Tambo International and through coordination with the South African Air Force, established formation over the skies west of Pretoria en route to the Loftus stadium.

The flypast took place at an altitude of 300 feet and aircraft were moving at the speed of approximately 325 km/h ground speed, the lowest speed possible given the size of the commercial aircraft, which were operated.

“We are indebted to our partners and stakeholders who readily expressed willingness to make this phenomenal air display possible. Sasol, the chemicals and energy company who generously offered us jet fuel powered the aircraft that flew over the skylines of Loftus Versfeld.

“In addition, our aviation partners, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and the Air Traffic Navigation Systems (ATNS) also agreed to waive the parking, landing and navigation fees associated with this event,” Tlali explained.

Fostering Ubuntu

SAA pilots who operated the flights also donated their time and offered their services as a contribution towards marking this special event.

The flypast on Saturday was reminiscent of that special and historic “Madiba moment” when SAA did a flypast more than two decades ago at the 1995 Rugby World Cup finals.

“We believe the symbolism of the flypast was as much a sign of pride by the airline and the peoples of South Africa as it was an effort aimed at continuously fostering the spirit of Ubuntu and unity nationwide,” concluded Tlali.




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