In 1974 after the South African Air Force identified the need
for an Operational Air Force Base in the Eastern Lowveld area, the farms Suikerkop, Boston
and Zark were bought by the State. The conceptual planning of Air Force Base Hoedspruit
started in 1975, and the subsequent years saw more detailed planning.
On 27 June 1977 the first turf was spaded on the terrain that
would later be known as "Air Force Base Hoedspruit". Less than a year later, on
8 March 1978, the first Buccaneer landed on the new runway. The base was officially opened
on 1 July 1978 by the then Minister of Defence, Minister P.W. Botha.
The first houses in the domestic area Drakensig were awarded to
new members in September 1978, and in December 1978, 2 Squadron, the "Flying
Cheetahs", arrived at AFB Hoedspruit. They were followed by 1 Squadron, which arrived
two years later in December. 31 Squadron (helicopters) was established during January
1982. 2 Squadron was deactivated in 1990 and reactivated at AFB Louis Trichardt in 1993. 1
Squadron became inactive when the Mirage F1s were taken out of service in Nov 1997.
As a result of rationalisation, 31 Squadron was disbanded in December 1992. 85 Combat
Flying School arrived during January 1993. 8 Squadron arrived during January of 1999. In
August 2000 the roles and functions of 8 Squadron were transferred to 85 Combat Flying
School. Presently the Base accommodates 85 Combat Flying School, Lowveld Airspace Control
Sector (LASS), 514 Security Squadron, 101 Reserve Squadron and 7 Air Servicing Unit.
Colonel P.F. Gouws was appointed as the first Officer Commanding
of Air Force Base Hoedspruit and was followed by Colonel P.D. Steyn, Colonel C.B. Lombard,
Colonel M.M.S. Venter, Brigadier General J.C.S. van der Merwe, and Brigadier General J.J.
Rankin. The current Officer Commanding of Air Force Base Hoedspruit Brigadier General P.
du Plessis took over command from Brigadier General C.D. Eksteen on 1 February 2000.