It’s child’s play as SA Air Force cel­e­brates its 90th birth­day

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

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

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