It’s child’s play as SA Air Force celebrates its 90th birthday
ALL A little boy in a Spiderman T-shirt wanted to do yesterday was to shake the hand of an SA Air Force pilot who had earlier left a thundering sound in his wake as he flew a fighter jet overhead.
Sitting on his dad’s shoulders, the young fan stared at Major Mark Wilson, pointed at the Gripen combat jet and shyly asked: “Did you really fly that?”
Wilson, the navigator of the Gripen, broadly smiled and said he did.
“Do you want to be a pilot and fly?” he asked.
“But I have to be big first,” the little boy replied.
“Yes, a little bit bigger,” said Wilson, whose call sign is Bluebird.
The father and son were among the hundreds who came to see the air force’s fleet of aircraft fly in formation over the Swartkops airfield in Pretoria.
The air force is the second oldest in the world after the British Royal Air Force and celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.
Wilson has been flying the Gripen alongside Lieutenant Colonel Glen Gibson for two years. He said it was an honour to take part in the celebrations .
Even Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was in awe of the air force’s capabilities.
After watching a demonstration of how the air force, the army’s special task force and police would intercept and contain a hijacking and hostage situation, Sisulu said the country was ready to deal with any eventuality and to protect the World Cup. – Sapa