Director Aviation Safety



Colonel S.M. Gardiner


Col Steve Gardiner grew up in Pretoria and completed his schooling at Clapham High School in Queenswood in 1978.  The desire to fly in the SA Air Force was cultivated in his matric year and was pursued by joining the Permanent Force in January 1979.  On completion of Basic Training at the then School for Technical Training (68 Air School) in Lyttelton, Col Gardiner was transferred to 250 Air Defence Unit (now Ditholo) at Hammanskraal as a missile operator.  While there he applied for Navigator selection, and was transferred to SAAF College as a candidate officer in September 1979, and then to 80 Air Navigation School in January 1980 as a student navigator.

Col Gardiner was transferred to 28 Squadron in January 1981 and received his Navigator Wing in April 1981.  While at 28 Sqn he flew a total of 1454 hours on Transall C160 and 2759 hours on Hercules C130 aircraft. In 1996 Col Gardiner was transferred to Directorate Telecommunications and Electronic Warfare at CJ Ops (and later CCMIS) where he spent four years as the Staff Officer Navigation and Sensors.  During this period he was also the Project Officer for Project COCKSPUR (the development of a Computer Assisted Spectrum Management Information System) and Project GERALD (the development of a secure mode Identification Friend or Foe system).

In January 2000 Col Gardiner was transferred to Directorate Military Aviation Regulation and Policy as the SO Operations Policy, tasked with looking after all flying-related policy.  This was followed in January 2008 by a one-year stint as a Directing Staff at the Air Power Development Centre, SAAF College, presenting air power subjects to all the levels of developmental courses.

Col Gardiner was transferred to Directorate Aviation Safety in January 2009 and staffed as the SSO Performance Management, delegated with the task of managing all aviation safety training. As this post had been vacant for a few years, the Air Force Command Council made the decision to outsource aviation training.  Subsequently, this training is being brought back into the SAAF as an own capability.  Col Gardiner was appointed Director Aviation Safety in January 2012, a post he still holds and which is both very challenging and highly satisfying.


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