20 years of democracy shines in SA skies

Saturday, May 24, 2014

By Neo Semono

Pretoria - Colours of the South African flag and a formation of 20 years of democracy shone in the sky during the inauguration of newly inaugurated South African President Jacob Zuma on Saturday.

Following the official swearing in ceremony, witnessed by thousands of people gathered at the Union Buildings, shortly after 11:30am, the salute flypast left most people gathered at the Union Buildings breathless.

Ululation, the clapping of hands, and sounds of vuvuzelas in the distance followed the oath.

Kicking off  was the flypast salute consisting of three helicopters namely an Oryx, BK 117  and a light utility helicopter from different Squadrons.

The first formation of the flypast consisted of helicopters from various helicopter squadrons and bases from around the country. The helicopters were the Oryx, the BK117, the Agusta A109 and Rooivalk. These helicopters, with the exception of Rooivalk, have multiple roles, including humanitarian support, while the Rooivalk has numerous combat capabilities.

The formation in the flypast also included the Pointer which consisted of a Dakota C47TP, Pilatus PC-12 and Cessna Caravans.

The largest formation of the day was the Callsign Astra, consisting of 22 Pilatus PC-7 MK2’s, including the Silver Falcons aircraft. The formation passed in the shape of a "20" to symbolise the country’s 20 years of democracy which is being celebrated this year.

Another formation seen by guests at the Union Buildings was the VIP transport formation consisting of the Boeing Jet which is the Presidential Jet, a Falcon 50 and a Falcon 900. The aircraft were escorted by two Gripen Fighter aircraft.

Another formation that guests were treated to was the Hawk formation comprising of the lead aircraft that was painted in the national colours surrounded by camouflaged aircraft, symbolising the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) protecting the country and the nation.

The Gripen formation could also not be missed as it comprised Gripen aircraft which is the front line fighter aircraft of the South African Air Force. The aircraft is capable of travelling faster than the speed of sound.

In the background, the 21 Gun Salute took place. The salute is the highest honour rendered by a nation and is reserved for the President, visiting Heads of State and state funerals.

Saturday’s inauguration signalled the start of the second term of office for President Zuma. - SAnews.gov.za

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