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 Sir Pierre Van Ryneveld Banquet

The annual Air Power Symposium, also known as the Sir Pierre Van Ryneveld Air Power Symposium at the CSIR on 14 September, saw special invited guest and keynote speaker, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup from the British Royal Air Force (RAF) delivering a powerful and moving address in recognition of the second oldest air force in the world, the South African Air Force. Sir Jock Stirrup has been visiting South Africa and the CAF, Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano over the period 10 to 15 September 2005.

An excellent and informative short film was viewed by the guests and showed the SAAF in early years and how we developed up to today. Guests were treated to an exquisite meal and lingered in the company of various dignitaries throughout the evening.

Air Chief Marshal Stirrup commended the SAAF for its profound impact in world history and more so in the development of British Air Power from the earliest days and especially during the first and second world wars. He said that the RAF owed its existence, shape and substance to the foresight of a great man, namely Gen Jan Smuts. The other two great figures who supported the vision of Gen Smuts were gentlemen such as Hugh Trenchard and Pierre van Ryneveld. Other individuals who were praised was WW1 veteran during 1918, Anthony Beauchamp Proctor, VC. An ode also went to WW2 fighter and bomber aces like Sailor Malan (Battle of Britain), Pat Pattle (superior fighter ace of the entire war with 41 air victories), “Bomber” Harris (1942) and Master Bomber, Capt Edwin Swales (1945).

Air Chief Marshal Stirrup also said that we should always remember and celebrate the huge sacrifices made by others in the past. During WW2 the SAAF flew over 80 000 sorties, 2227 men died, 932 were wounded or injured and 273 were captured. He also stated that we should learn from the past but not dwell in it and like Smuts, Trenchard and van Ryneveld we must turn our eyes to the future and prepare for the next war, not the last war.

It has been a special privilege to entertain Air Chief Marshal Stirrup and all dignitaries at this excellent venue!




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