Category Archives: Posts

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“A Day in the Life of … Freddie Coates”

This online exhibition features images and experiences of various members of the SAAF and RAF.

February 1944. Course 26 AB 41 Air School


Frederick George Coates was born in Enfield, Middlesex, England on 14th March 1920.
His brother Albert joined the Royal and Merchant Navies and was on HMS Southampton when it was bombed.
He had a little sister Olive who died when she was about 2 or 3 years old.
He became an electrical engineer after the War and spent many years in Kenya and Southern Africa where he won many trophies for boxing and golf. He married in 1966 and a daughter Lynda was born in 1969.

In 1972 the family moved to Botswana for 2 years then Swaziland for 3 years before moving to Northamptonshire, England.

George Frederick Coates died 23rd November 1998.

George Bonfield BM, Jock Livingstone AG, Taffy Watkin BA, Mack McCormick BA Italy 1944


Celone, Foggia Italy 1944


Foggia, December 1944


" Our Liberator cockpit, Celone, Foggia, Italy 1944"


"Our Liberator, Celone, Italy, 1944"


Grotto del Piccione, Rome. January 25th, 1945


All images from the F Coates Collection

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“A Day in the Life of … Joe Joubert”


This online exhibition features images and experiences of various members of the SAAF and RAF and RAAF.

Joe Joubert flew as a navigator in the Berlin Airlift.

On the 9th July 1949 he and the radio operator were ordered to jettison 63 sacks of coal as the aircraft could not gain height in a severe thunderstorm.

This was achieved in a remarkable six and a half minutes and he received a commendation for this remarkable act. In his spare time he practiced weight lifting. He flew 175 sorties in Korea and he is seen receiving an award for his gallantry and courage in that conflict.

Wings and Wheels DVD – “In the Jumpseat”

Category : Contributors , Features , Film , Posts

Have you ever wanted to fly, wondered how aerobatic teams prepare their displays, thought about how many crew it takes to pilot a helicopter or dreamed of breaking the sound barrier in a fighter jet?
Well, now you can!
In this documentary, filmed over four days at the Wings and Wheels Airshow at Air Force Base Ysterplaat in Cape Town, we follow three pilots from their pre-flight briefings to post-flight analysis.
With all-access passes and exclusive interviews, we bring you some never before seen footage of these pilots and their aircraft in action.
Some of the highlights include close-up footage of the Gripen fighter jet, onboard footage from the Oryx helicopter and the Silver Falcons as well as radio chatter between the control tower and the pilots.
Not convinced?
Watch this DVD trailer and if you like what you see pre-order your copy now for just R100 at


R15 of each DVD sold will be donated back to the SAAF Museum Ysterplaat.


Wings and Wheels 2011 Air Show Participants

Image by Irene McCullagh


Air Show Helpline Number: 021 508 6414

  1. JET PROVOST                                                         FLYING DISPLAY
  2. L39                                                                             FLYING DISPLAY
  3. L39                                                                             FLYING DISPLAY
  4. 2 X MX2                                                                    FLYING DISPLAY
  5. 4 X HARVARD                                                        FLYING DISPLAY
  6. P51 MUSTANG                                                        FLYING DISPLAY
  7. SEA FURY                                                                 FLYING DISPLAY
  8. YAK 55                                                                       FLYING DISPLAY
  9. PITTS SPECIAL                                                       FLYING DISPLAY
  10. CRISTEN EAGLE                                                    FLYING DISPLAY
  11. BELL 47                                                                     FLYING DISPLAY
  12. GAZELLE                                                                  FLYING DISPLAY
  13. BOSBOK                                                                   FLYING DISPLAY
  14.  2 X RV73 (FORMATION)                                    FLYING DISPLAY
  15. 2 X RV8                                                                    FLYING DISPLAY
  16. PREMIER JET                                                        FLYPAST & STATIC
  17. C172                                                                           FLYPAST & STATIC
  18. AC500                                                                       FLYPAST & STATIC
  19. PREMIER JET                                                        FLYPAST & STATIC
  20. PC12                                                                          FLYPAST & STATIC
  21. BARON                                                                     FLYPAST & STATIC
  22. NAVY HARVARD                                                   POSSIBLE FLYING
  23. BOSBOK                                                                   STATIC
  24. CHIPMUNK                                                             STATIC
  25. TIGER MOTH                                                          STATIC
  26. PIPER CUB                                                               STATIC
  27. SAVANAH                                                                 STATIC
  28. HUGHES 269                                                           STATIC
  29. HUEY                                                                         STATIC
  30. GRASS HOPPER                                                     STATIC
  31. MAGNI GYRO                                                         STATIC
  32. SANKA HELICOPTER                                          STATIC
  33. WILGA                                                                      STATIC
  34. STEARMAN                                                             STATIC
  35. TITAN TORNADO                                                 STATIC
  36. VANSIN                                                                    STATIC
  37. RAVEN                                                                     STATIC
  38. JODEL                                                                      STATIC
  39. CX4                                                                           STATIC


  2. HAWK
  3. C47TP
  6. ORYX
  7. LYNX
  8. AUGUSTA A 109
  10. C130




C47 (DC3)








CAPE TOWN CAR CLUB:                                    BEST 300 CLASSIC & VINTAGE CARS

FRANSCHOEK MUSEUM:                       30 VEHICLES (









AFB Ysterplaat Timeline


1941 – 1945















































Brooklyn Air Station established on 24 October.


Hangers, buildings, railway siding, fuel installations and

three runways constructed.


The first aircraft that landed on the newly constructed

airfield was an Avro Anson.


First batch of aircraft assembled took off for flight tests

on 19 January.


9 Air Depot, with WAAF members and RAF personnel, moved from Wingfield to Brooklyn on 20 January.


Wireless station with transmitting and receiving buildings constructed.


Camp facilities for Womens Auxiliary Air Force constructed.


The first Baltimore and Kittyhawks arrived from the docks.


6 Squadron relocated to Brooklyn in November.


Cape Fortress wireless transmitter station also relocated.


In March the 15 ferry and test pilots flew 1097 hours, ferrying and testing their quota of the 85 aircraft constructed.


Aircraft assembled: Anson, Oxford, Miles Master, Bristol Beaufort, Fairey Battle, Martin Baltimore, Dominie,

Kittyhawk, Maryland, Harvard, Hurricanes.


Brooklyn Air Station handled up to 94 visiting aircraft, excluding training aircraft, in one month.


3 AD took over from 9 AD on 31 March. 11 AD continued as

an independent sub unit.


The newly acquired Avro York for the use of Prime Minister Field Marshall Jan Smuts arrived at AFS Brooklyn.


The end of WWII with VE Day parade on 8 May.



1946 – 1959














































300 Harvards crated at Brooklyn and shipped to the UK.


The first test flight of a Meteor III with pilot, Capt Meaker.


Venturas escorted the HMS Vanguard with the Royal family

on board.


17 Squadron was officially opened with Major Stanford as OC.


RAF Commodore Atcherly and jet specialists arrive to

prepare pilots for the Vampires.


Members selected to relief SAAF Squadron operating on the Berlin airlift.


Eleven pilots from Ysterplaat selected to join UN in Korea.


7 and 27 Active Citizen Force Squadrons was established.


Navigators School established with Major H.J.P. Burger, OC.


22 Squadron reformed at Ysterplaat under Major H.E. Kirby.


The last of 77 Vampires assembled.


First auto-rotation on the Sikorsky helicopter was done by Major Tatham and witnessed by the Media.


Three Sikorsky helicopters assembled.


AFS Ysterplaat was equipped with 15 Ventura, 3 Harvard and 1 Dakota aircraft. The Dakota was used in the air bridge between Cape Town and Cairo.


22 Squadrons’ disbandment coincided with the arrival of 35 Squadron, newly equipped with Avro Shackletons.


Shackletons and Venturas took part in combined exercises with the SA Navy and British Navy.


Ysterplaat hosted an Air Show in November featuring a Comet, Sabre, Shackleton, Devons, Dakotas and helicopters.



1960 – 1967











































Air Show highlights – rocket installations of the Alouette II on display; a Sabre broke the sound barrier over Cape Town.


27 Squadron reformed as Coastal Reconnaissance Squadron equipped with Dakota aircraft.


2 Aircraft Maintenance Unit was founded.


Shackleton 1718 crashed into Stettynskloof mountains near Rawsonville and thirteen crew members died.


Air Show – the first Mirage III seen by the Cape Town public.


22 Squadron reformed as 22 Flight with 6 Wasp helicopters.


402 Air Field Maintenance Unit received unit status.


Sikorsky helicopters replaced with Alouette III.


108 Air Force Reserve Squadron established in PE under command of Ysterplaat.


110 Air Force Reserve Squadron established to supply air support to ground troops, commando’s and civilian forces.


35 Squadron assisted crew of a Buccaneer that had to abandon their aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean.


The first landing of a Wasp helicopter on Bouvet Island. Two Wasp helicopters accompanied a survey ship with a team of scientists to the island.


17 Squadron crews rescued 76 people from the SA Seafarer.


Wasp 82 crashed in the sea off Milnerton during an exercise and the crew was rescued. The Wasp was re-floated after a few hours and rebuilt.


The Acting State President, Mr. J.F.T. Naudé, presented the Officer’s Commanding of 7, 17, 27 and 35 squadrons with their Squadron’s Colours on 30 October.




1968 – 1972











































The status of Ysterplaat is upgraded from a Station to

Air Force Base.


25 Squadron was reformed as a Dakota medium Transport Squadron under command of Cmdt A.J. Cooney.


16 Squadron was established and equipped with Alouette III helicopters under command of Cmdt G. Thom.


Helicopter Conversion Unit with Alouette II and III helicopters established under command of Major J.M. Oosthuizen.


The Maritime Operational Training Unit, tasked to train flight crew, was established in under command of Cmdt P.S. Marais.


16 Super Frelon helicopters were assembled.


27 Squadron Dakotas was replaced with Piaggio 166S Albatross. Albatross 881 to 889 was assembled.


7 Squadron, a training unit operating Harvard aircraft, moved from Youngsfield to Ysterplaat.


22 Flight flew humanitarian missions to Tulbach residents in September when the town was struck by an earthquake.


22 Flight on stand by with Maritime Task Force in April as the world waits for Apollo 13 to return to earth at alternative sites.


25 Squadron started operational flying tours at Rundu.


A new Decca Navigation System was officially opened by the Minister of Defence, Mr P.W. Botha.


A new Control Tower was constructed.


A memorial service was held in February commemorating the deaths of the crews of three Mercurius aircraft that crashed on Devil’s Peak in May 1971, and the four 22 Flight helicopter crew members who died in a Wasp helicopter accident near

Luanda in November 1971.



1973 – 1980














































Alouette II helicopters were withdrawn from service.


Six Wasp helicopters were assembled. The delivery of the seventh Wasp was cancelled in accordance with a United Nations decision to ban the sale of weapons to South Africa.


22 Flight won the light Aircraft Command’s First Helicopter competition held at AFB Bloemspruit.

Ysterplaat received their first three television sets.


Start of Operation Savannah in SWA (Namibia). In December three Dakotas flew to Windhoek, heralding the moving of 25 Squadron’s bush tours to Grootfontein.

LCpls Martell and Maree of 25 Squadron were the first females to qualify as telecommunications operators and Lt A. Horn is our first female Air Traffic Controller.


22 Flight was restored to full squadron status.


First Dakota sprayed a camouflage colour scheme.


A Super Frelon helicopter set an unofficial record with a non-stop flight from Ysterplaat to Swartkop in November.


The last Harvard took off from Ysterplaat.

SAAF recruited coloured personnel for the first time since World War II.


The Officer’s Club burnt down and the Cambridge Hotel in Milnerton was taken over in 1979 as the Officer’s Mess.

At a parade Cmdt J. Cloete accepted the Colours on behalf of 27 Squadron from the State President, Mr. B.J. Vorster.


35 Squadron awarded the Freedom of the City of Cape Town.

30 Squadron reformed under the command of Cmdt R. Dean and equipped with Pumas and Super Frelon helicopters.




1981 – 1991














































22 and 30 Squadron was involved in flood relief rescue when Laingsburg was worst hit following heavy unseasonable rains.

SAAF 62nd birthday flying displays of a Spitfire, Canberras, Buccaneers, Mirage F1 aircraft, Frelon and Puma helicopters.


27, 30 and 35 Squadrons was dispatched in an extensive search-and rescue operation along with naval vessels following the collision of the SAS President Kruger

and SAS Tafelberg.

AFB Ysterplaat received the SAAF Operational Efficiency Award for Support Sections two years in a row.

Dakota 77 flies for the last time in yellow and black livery.

2 ASU become a depot to extend production capacity.


Shackletons perform a farewell formation over Cape Town.

A Russian Naval Task Force rounds the Cape in September and a Dakota and Albatross shadows the vessels.


505 Security Squadron was established in June.

Return of 30 Squadron personnel and Pumas from SANAE Base in Antarctica after a trip of two and a half months.


Visit by Commander-in-Chief of Republic of China Air Force.


First Dakota maritime paint scheme on display for the media.


Commando members of 110 Squadron died when their Cessna crashed in the mountains near Montagu.

Air Crash simulation in Goodwood involving 400 personnel

of SAA, Eskom, SADF, Civil Aviation and City Tramways.


25 and 27 Squadron amalgamated with 35 Squadron.


Ysterplaat Squadrons took part in the rescue operation of

219 passengers from the stricken Oceanos.



1992 – 2002















































11 Air Depot amalgamated with 2 Air Depot.


Ysterplaat won the Sword of Peace Award for the third consecutive year for exceptional humanitarian service.


A concrete wall was erected around the Base.


Puma helicopters airlifted 40 crew members from Riverplate.

South Africa becomes a fully fledged democracy and AFB Ysterplaat welcomes new members from the former

Non – Statuary Forces.

Museum Shackleton Pelican 1716 crashed in the Western Sahara. All 19 members survive and were rescued.

35 Squadron was re-equipped with C47-TP and the last

operations were flown by the piston engine Dakotas.


The last of 60 Pilatus Astra PC-7 aircraft was assembled.

Helicopters transported containers and supplies for the building of the SANAE IV base in Antarctic.

Oryx helicopters arrive and J-type Pumas phased out.

A Delville Bush Memorial Service was held at

Cape Town Gardens.

22 Squadron helicopters were deployed for fire-fighting in the Boland, Somerset West, Tulbach and Uniondale.


Air Show held in October in conjunction with Thunder City.


The new millennium kicks off with the biggest fires yet and

are followed by floods in Mozambique.


Plans to close down AFB Ysterplaat and move lodger units to Cape Town International Airport abandoned.


Exhibition at Museum commemorating the 60th Anniversary of North African campaign opened by General E. Schmidt.



2003 – 2011














































22 Squadron flight crews awarded for the rescue of 89 people off the ice-bound Magdalena Oldendorff in the Antarctic.


Five members of 35 Squadron were selected for the SANDF Rugby team tour to Holland and Germany.


80 Air Navigation School received the Best Training Unit Prestige Award, Gold.


35 Squadron received the Golden award for the best Permanent Flying Unit and the Aviation Safety Award.


The first new generation Gripen fighter made its public debut in September and on the eve of the African Aerospace and Defence Expo hosted at Ysterplaat.


The Museum Shackleton, 1722, performs its last flight on

29th of March.


The first two Lynx helicopters arrive at Ysterplaat in July.


35 Squadron foils a drug drop by a foreign vessel.


Ysterplaat members involved in UN operations outside our borders in conjunction with SANDF and international forces.


AAD Air Show with 200 exhibitors from 30 countries. Some of the aircraft participating was Gripen, Hawk, Lightning and Hawker Hunter, Rooivalk-, Oryx- and Lynx helicopters.


AFB Ysterplaat was awarded the Freedom of Entry to the

City of Cape Town. The official scroll was handed over to Colonel Cowan on a parade in August 2010.


AFB Ysterplaat was a hive of activity with the FIFA 2010

World Soccer Cup, when the SAAF secured the air space above Cape Town.


The USAF participated in another international AAD Air Show.


Ysterplaat Air Force Base celebrates its 70th birthday.


AFB Ysterplaat – 70 Years of Aviation Excellence – Part Two



The History of Ysterplaat 1810 – 1941 (The Early Years)

(View Part One Here)

To a certain extent it is not known precisely when aviators started using Ysterplaat as a landing field, but it is interesting to know some of the background to what we know as Air Force Base Ysterplaat today.

In the census of 1810, it is listed that on the 31st December 1810, one Willem Caesar and the widow Priem and her two children are resident at d`Yzere Plaat, (Ysterplaat) a hay farm belonging to a Mr. J. P. Eksteen and that they owned two draft oxen.

Sir De Villiers Graaff in 1941 as a Major in the “Dukes”

Some time later as Cape Town expanded, the area then became known as Maitland Common and according to the Title Deeds for AFB Ysterplaat, that some of the property eventually belonged to Sir de Villiers Graaf.

An initiative by the Cape Town City Council to provide a municipal airport for the town led to what we know today as Air Force Base Ysterplaat.  The name of the farm, and subsequently the name of the Base are named after the natural geographical feature of the ground and are translated into English as “Iron Plate”.

The Airport Manager's House

Erected in 1917 and occupied by Mr. F. A. N. Duk who worked for Aero Services as a pilot and manager of the Airport. The building is now occupied by AFB Ysterplaat Transport Section. Some of the exterior and interior areas have been slightly modernised, however, the fireplace and all original woodworks are perfectly preserved. Next to it was erected the 1920 Hangar that was subsequently moved to the museum.

Captain Fred Duk in the SAAF Special Reserve Force in 1923

In those early days, Brooklyn consisted of one house, (manager’s office) a lean-to Hangar (Museum Restoration Center) the 1920 Hangar and a large square grass airfield without runways.

Members of SAAF Diamond Mail Service at Brooklyn 1925

The Air Force’s association with the airfield did not begin in 1940 when the Base as we know it was being built. The SA Air Force’s relationship goes way back beyond that as the Air Force started what was then known as the SAAF Diamond Mail Service in 1925.

At the request of the Department of Mines, the SAAF instituted regular mail flights between Maitland and Alexander Bay.  Cape Town would, it then appeared, have to become used to seeing SAAF aircraft in its skies.

It is suspected that from as early as 1915 civilian pilots were using the grass airfield that was to become known as AFS Brooklyn.

Union Airways, started by Major A.M. Miller of RFC fame, began operating a scheduled airmail service which used Brooklyn as its Cape Town terminus from 1927 for about two years before the operations were moved to Wingfield.

Union Airways did not survive the turbulence of the financial melt down in the 1920’s and several flying accidents did not contribute to its well being either and it  was eventually liquidated leading to the formation of the nation’s national carrier.

South African Airways began flying on 1 February 1934 after the South African Government took over the assets and liabilities of Union Airways.

August 1929: Union Airways Gypsy Moths at Brooklyn

Union Airways was based upon a weekly service which left Cape Town after the arrival of the Union Castle Mail Ship on Monday mornings.

In the opposite direction, the fights were timed to reach Cape Town before the departure of the Mail Ships on their north-bound voyages. The service would unite Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban with Cape Town.

The Miller Archives with the history of Union Airways is lodged with the permanent collection at the SAAF Museum.

The RMS Saxon Castle was the first ship to carry airmail collected in South Africa

The Pupil Pilot Training Scheme at Brooklyn

Although Brooklyn Aerodrome was first used in 1925 for military purposes, in 1938, the Chief Instructor of our then very young Air Force, Sergeant E.R. Mauritzi, chose Brooklyn as the most appropriate aerodrome in the Peninsula for training purposes. All flying training activities were then moved from Mariendal Aerodrome near Stellenbosch to the airfield at Brooklyn. And so the scheme to train 100 pilots for the SAAF began. It was known as Union Air Training Group (UTAG). Towards the end of 1938, African Air Transport (AAT), a subsidiary of De Havilland Aircraft Company at Baragwaneth opened up at Brooklyn, with a contract to train batches of civilian pilots to SA Air Force specified standards. The manager of AAT at that time was David Earl, the Pilot Instructors were Eddie Maritz, Jan Jacques, and later Victor smith who joined them in February 1939.

Victor Smith - an AAT flying instructor at Brooklyn Airport


Aircraft used were DH 82A Tiger Moths, ZS-ANE, AJC, ANU and AMZ. There were also the privately owned aeroplanes, a D.H. Hornet, ZS-AOT belonging to Victor Smith, and an Avro Avian owned by Traffic Cop Naude (later of Skeleton Coast fame). At this stage, Brooklyn still consisted of only one hangar, one office block come manager’s house and one lean-to hangar, no runways and no radio.

The course for the first batch of pupil pilots being trained for the SAAF started on 1 April 1939 and was to end on 30 June 1939. The course included: Wildsmith, Bob Kershaw, Fritz Johl, Victor Heimstra (who became a judge), Gordon Pat Patterson, Theo Purchase, Pat Polson, and Traffic Cops Naude and Strydom. Many pilots were trained without incident, a large number to become famous during World War 2, which started soon afterwards.

Bob Kershaw DSO, DFC

When war broke out in 1939, AAT was moved form Brooklyn to Tempe, near Bloemfontein, and was absorbed into the SAAF. Brooklyn was to be developed into a full blown Base.

(View Part One Here)

SAAF Air Capability Demonstration, 01 September 2011

On the first of September the SAAF held its second bi-annual air capability demonstration at Roodewal bombing range.  After an early morning welcome briefing at AFB Waterkloof, invited VIP’s and guests were flown to Polokwane International Airport, and then driven by bus the further half hour to the site in the Limpopo province.

Further comprehensive briefings were held, covering recent SANDF operations, including simulated joint exercises involving members of the Executive National Security Programme (ENSP), the Army, Navy and Medical services.  The slide shows and accompanying talks were extremely interesting and well presented, even covering the unexpected event of a Rooivalk having to be “rescued” from being snowed-in during a huminitarian exercise.

The Chief of the SAAF, Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano, gave the opening address and stated that the event was an ideal opportunity for the Air Force to promote itself, even in times of limited financial resources.

The display included SAAF’s fighter jets, the Gripen and Hawk, a selection of helicopters including the Rooivalk attack helicopters firing live rounds, BK 117 and Oryx and the spectacular dropping of 120 kg and 250kg bombs onto a target site called Charlie Coke.

Colonel Rama Iyer (Director Basic Flying Training SAAF) gave commentary on the bombing sequence, informing how increased technology has greatly increased accuracy in hitting a target.

To end the hour-long event, spectators were treated to tight 8-ship formation fly-pasts from both the Gripens and Hawks, as well as a sky-full of helicopters stretched across the horizon coming in in a most spectacular display.

After a well-organised lunch, guests were again returned by bus to the Polokwane airport for connecting flights to AFB Waterkloof.  Indeed, everything ran very smoothly and professionally with excellent hospitality provided and it was an enormous privilege to attend this impressive “show of strength” event.


For more images click here.

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Royal Air Force Officers’ Club (RAFOC) Lunch – 7th October

Category : Contributors , News , News Updates , Posts

Royal Air Force Officers’ Club (RAFOC)

Lunch Friday 7 October

By Gordon Dyne

Members of RAFOC are reminded that this coming Friday 7 October sees the monthly ‘get together’ of many of the ‘crème de la crème’ members past and present from the SAAF, RAF, RRAF,SAA, SAS, French Foreign Legion and countless other military organisations.

The lunch will be held as usual at the graceful Wanderers Club in Johannesburg 12h00 for 13h00. After the usual splendid lunch accompanied by some fine wines from the Wanderers’ extensive cellars the Annual General Meeting will be held. It will be chaired by the present incumbent Bruce Harrison who will as usual bring some humour to the serious matter of electing a committee for 2011/2012.

Let us please have a record turnout for this yearly necessity.

Thank you.

For more information on RAFOC please refer to RAFOC’s web site .