The Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team of the South African Airforce
The Silver Falcons are the South African Air force official display team. The team of five Pilatus Pc7mkii plus 3 additional spare aircraft are based at the Central Flying School, Air force Base Langebaanweg in the Western Cape South Africa. The main purpose of the Silver Falcons is to enhance the image of the South African Airforce, encourage recruitment and restore national pride.
The team was originally formed in 1946 as the Bumbling Bees display team. The team flew a 4ship formation flying the de Havilland Vampire. By the 1950s the team disbanded and left a major gap in South African Aviation. In 1967 at the opening of the Atlas Aircraft Corporation known today as Denel Aviation, there was an idea to change the name of the team to something a bit bolder. The Silver Falcons team which was chosen as they gave their first display at the event in November 1967, under the leadership of Colonel Chris Prins.
In 1986 the team was expanded to a five ship to bring more exciting displays and to include a solo display, at this team the aircraft were painted up in old South African flag display colours The team operated out of AFB Langebaanweg until the early 1990s, when all Impala jet training was moved to Air force Base Hoedspruit on the Kruger National Park’s doorstep in the lowveld region of South Africa.
This formed part of 85 Combat Flying school which is now located at AFB Makhado in the Limpopo province flying the BAE Hawk MK120. In 1994 with the new South African national flag, the team’s aircraft were repainted to represent the colours of the South African Air force: blue, light blue and white. With SAAF75 in 1995 the Silver Falcons had the opportunity to tour South Africa with the RAF Red Arrows all over South Africa.
During 1998, the team moved back to AFB Langebaanweg and commenced training on the new Swiss Pilatus Astra turboprop trainers. The decision was taken to display the Astra trainer to the public, as the time was near for the retirement of the impala aircraft in 2005. The air force was getting ready for the introduction of the Bae Hawk MK120 into SAAF service.
At AFB Langebaanweg the team was reduced to a four ship in the standard red and white paint scheme, known to pilots as flying coke cans on the Astra fleet. At this point of time the aircraft had no eye-catching paint scheme on the aircraft.
In September 2008 at the African Aerospace and Defence (AAD) Expo at AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town, the aircraft were specially painted in a unique blue and white and other additional liveries and the team was expanded to five ship once again. The paint for the aircraft was donated by a local paint supplier, First African Paints. The first display was flown at this major show.
From then on, the Silver Falcons have been a favourite at every air show they're attended, if they not flying with an SAA Airbus in formation. They up close and personal with one of Mango Airlines Boeing 737-800s.
Something new was when they started is flying with a fighter jets, including Hawk and now Gripen. The Gripen formation is also known as the "Aviation Central Formation". Many of these formations have the crowds on their feet every time they are flown!
The team also made history when they opened the FIFA Soccer World cup in Soweto in 2010,the world had all eyes on them.
The Pilatus PC-7 Mk II is a high-performance single-engine turboprop aircraft, used by the South African Air Force for ab-initio training. It is powered by a 750 hp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-25C engine and is designed for G-loadings between +7 and -3.5 G, making it ideal for aerobatics. The Astra has a tandem seat configuration and is fitted with two Martin Baker CH-11A ejection seats.
For all practical purposes the Astra can be seen as a hybrid between the PC-7 Mk I and the newer PC-9. Both these aircraft types are extremely popular as military trainers across the globe and are in active service in more than 30 air forces. Like the PC-9, the Astra features a larger cockpit, upgraded airframe and instruments and is fitted with a ventral airbrake, but it retains the smaller engine of the PC-7 Mk I.
The Astra fleet has been revitalized with the upgrade of 32 of the aircraft to Pilatus PC 7 MK II configuration, which involved a major avionics upgrade and fitment of wing/fuselage fairings. The avionics include a full EFIS “glass” cockpit and a powerful Garmin 500 GPS system.
Specifications: Pilatus PC7MKII
Wingspan: 10.19 m
Length: 10.13 m
Maximum Take-off Weight: 4 950 lbs (2 250 kg)
Maximum Operating Speed: 300 knots (555 km/h)
Maximum Mach Number: Mach 0.6
Maximum Operating Altitude: 25 000 ft (7 622 m)
Stalling Speed (Clean): 75 knots (139 km/h)
Stalling Speed (Landing Configuration): 65 knots (120 km/h)
Minimum Speed for Ground Level Ejection: 65 knots (120 km/h)
Team 84-AAD 2022
Falcon 1-Major Lehlohonolo "Maloks" Malokane
Falcon 2-Major Pule Maloka
Falcon 3-Lieutenant Colonel Omphile Matloane (left wing)
Falcon 4-Major Angus Maleka
Major Tlhalefo Ronald Moroole ( understudy for left wing)
Major Diaan Grobelaar (understudy right wing /#4 for the 5 ship )
Major Corne Botha PRO-Public Relations Officer
Major Ria Maleba GLO-Ground Liaison Officer
Falcon 8-Brian Emmenis- Air show Commentator
The leader is a former Caravan Pilot and the rest of the team are all made up of helicopter pilots that have flown the Oryx, Agusta A109LUH and Rooivalk helicopters.