Minister of Defence: “Exiting Pilots Stole Air Force Planes”

Do government representatives and Ministers take us for fools? Either the reasons that they provide for non-performance are not factual or they are farcical. Perhaps they operate on the principle that South Africans are gullible. There have been a number of such preposterous claims lately that require rebutting including the one that pilots who are resigning from the South African Air Force are taking their planes with them!

Main picture: Pilatus PC-7 turboprop trainers

Firstly this week we had the comical explanation from former President Thabo Mbeki why he had to support Robert Mugabe when he won the 2002 elections due to gerrymandering: Ballot box stuffing in layman’s terminology. The revelation according to Mbeki’s epistle is that Tony Blair was intent on invading Zimbabwe! This is an elegant example of the time honoured tactic of the clueless. Employ the Goebbels’s propaganda technique.

Later we had the inane accusation by the ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, that President Obama was instrument in drafting plans to invade South Africa.

Minister of Defence: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Minister of Defence: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

 Blaine’s opinion on Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula accusation:

 I suspect that this woman is speaking utter tosh (see article below). 

 That must be just about the most pathetic and erroneous excuse for not training our pilots.  It’s another classic case of misdirection and blaming some yet to be determined conspiracy.  (She might be vaguely referring to a period in 2005 when 3 officials were arrested for the SA National Military Museum being in possession of a Ratel, 2 Elands and 1 Ferret armoured car.)

She must be referring to our Pilatus PC-7 turboprop trainers which is the only aircraft used by the SAAF for ab initio training.  We acquired 60 as part of the arms deal.

Claims by Minister of Defence 

Apparently 7 have been written off and about 35 had their avionics changed back to the Pilatus standard as the SA developed avionics ‘degraded’ and it seems as if the company is no longer in business. This left approximately 20 airframes that were to be sold in 2012 according to Defenceweb. 

 It’s simple to keep control of 60 major assets.  If they were stolen then it is immediately obvious and charges must be laid.  Were they?  Anyway, it would seem as if all the airframes are accounted for.  Perhaps she is referring to our old Harvards that we stopped using decades ago and have probably been sold off to museums and to aerobatic teams.  I’m sure that some of those ended up in private hands through devious means but they do not form part of our pilot training nor do they have military significance. 


The North American T6 Texan or Harvard in SA Airforce livery

The North American T6 Texan or Harvard in SA Airforce livery

When I listen to the C.T. municipal officials being interviewed on Cape Talk, and even if I don’t agree with their decisions, I am just about always impressed by their lucidity and the fact that they seem to be on top of things.  If they are lagging then they have a rational and well amplified explanation as well as a pretty solid plan to address the problem.  I then rest easy in the knowledge that my city and my province, in general, is in good hands.

 When I read articles like the one below I reach for a couple of stiff drinks and pray that we somehow just muddle through the laziness, incompetence and general room temperature IQ’s that seem to abound in the ruling party.  It was like Lindiwe Zulu’s only response to the ‘xenophobic’ attacks on Somali shopkeepers last year.  As Minister of Small Business, all she could say was that they should teach us their business secrets.  Perhaps it should be the Ministry of Small Minds.


Lindiwe Zulu

Lindiwe Zulu

An aside:  Well-heeled Air Forces started this concept of teaching their pilots from the very start on very advanced trainers that had jet like flight characteristics and pretty advanced avionics such as the Pilatus.  I don’t understand the concept as training a pilot on a Pilatus is like training a driver in a Porsche rather than a Corolla.

However it costs $3.9 million as opposed to $310,000 for a simple 4 seat Cessna 172 piston aircraft.  The hourly flight costs are similarly different.  Given SA’s desperate need for black pilots, I would have pushed them through on basic aircraft to weed out the incompetents.  There are a lot of horror stories about the training of our pilots.  This could have been cheaply accomplished by packing them off to Oudtshoorn for a month at less than R100, 000 to get a PPL.  Those that pass can go on to training on military aircraft and those that fail must be posted somewhere else in the SAAF.  More than 500 pilots can be trained to PPL standard for the cost of a single Pilatus.

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