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Article and photos by Amn Lebogang Ramaboea, AD ASTRA magazine

Col Izak Christoffel van der Vyver was inducted as an honorary colonel of 87 Helicopter Flying School (HELI FS). The parade was held at AFB Bloemspruit on 23 January 2009.

“The primary responsibility of the Honorary Colonel is to assist in maintaining the units traditions, to foster esprit-de-corps and to represent the interests of the unit. I consider the appointment as Honorary Colonel of this unit a singular honour. I solemnly undertake to honour my duties at 87 Helicopter Flying School. All this I will do to the best of my abilities,” said Honorary Colonel van der Vyver in his acceptance address.

Col Izak Christoffel van der Vyver addressing the parade

Col van der Vyver was born in the Eastern Cape Province in the town of Queenstown, on 25 January 1948. He attended high school at Hoërskool Hangkilp until he matriculated in 1966. The following year saw him join the South African Air Force (SAAF) and he qualified as a pilot.

During 1968 to 1970 he was a student at the Military Academy in Saldanha Bay. After qualifying he was awarded the Ad-Astra trophy for best Air Force Student. In 1970 he completed the Vampire course at Air Force Base Pietersburg.

Col R Opperman flanked by Hon Col van der Vyver and Lt Col Jaco Steynberg

The hard working Col van der Vyver sought for more knowledge. That made him qualify as a flying instructor at Central Flying School (CFS) in 1971, where he did his piloting course. The same year in 1971 he also qualified as an Impala instructor at AFB Langebaanweg. His resume includes serving as Harvard’s weapon instructor at 8 Squadron in 1972.

He attained a category B instructors rating at AFB Bloemspruit. Then, he was an Impala flying instructor at no 4 Citizen Force Sqn at AFB Waterkloof. By the end of 1973, he left the organisation to further his studies. Hon Col van der Vyver enrolled with the University of Pretoria and graduated as a Civil Engineer at the end of 1978. He was employed at the Vereeniging Municipality. He became a founder member of the Van Heerden and Van der Vyver Incorporated. The consulting civil engineering firm specialises in pavement management systems.

The new Honorary Colonel of 87 Heli FS has succeeded the late Col Russel Tungay. Hon Col van der Vyver had elier said; it had been a privilege to serve in the SA Air Force at the same time as his predecessor. “I knew the late Hon Col Russel Tungay personally as a colleague, it is a great honour to succeed him as Honorary Colonel of 87 Heli FS. That also places a heavy onus on me to live up to the high standards which he has set”.

This honorary colonel of 87 Heli FS is not new to the post. He has previously served terms at both 42 and 60 Sqn. He then succeeded Judge Cecil Margo at 60 Sqn, which was closed down in 2008.

Maj Gen M Mangethe, Brig Gen Z Msimang, Cpln Mandla Mtila and Col Hersov

The new inductee had earlier intimated that he sincerely hopes to complete his term as honorary colonel of 87 Heli FS. He also thanked the Chief of the SA Air Force for the honour he has bestowed on him. He added that the school is currently involved in training exercises to safe guard venues at the 2010 Soccer World Cup. He was excited and elated about challenges ahead of him, and looking forward to upholding the vision of the unit becoming an internationally recognised helicopter training school on the African continent.

He stressed the importance and essential mission of 87 Heli FS, which is to provide the SA Air Force with competent helicopter pilots. That will in turn be a significant propeller to the lay basis for all helicopter pilot training in the SAAF including the training of flight engineers and flight engineer instructors.

The Tungay family with Col van der Vyver

The evening was graced by the honour of senior officers in the SAAF; Maj Gen Mandla Mangethe (GOC, Air Command) and Brig Gen Zimpande Msimang (D Heli). The delegates included Mrs Tungay and her family.

In an Interview with Ad Astra magazine on 23 January 2009, Hon Col Izak van der Vyver said: “I am looking forward to closely working with Lt Col Jaco Steynberg, Officer Commanding (OC) of 87 Helicopter Flying School. That will also mean fostering good relations with the OC of AFB Bloemspruit Col Rudolph Opperman. On the 25 January I will be celebrating my birthday with a big braai flanked by my three daughters Hedre, Ilana and Izone”. Honorary Col van der Vyver, even at the age of 61 years still goes to the gym every morning at 05h00, to start his day fresh and in high spirits.

The goal of the day was to establish a sound relationship between the private sector and the SAAF. The Honoury Colonel, the base OC and the OC of 87 Heli FS arrived in an Agusta A109. Hon Col Izak Christoffel van der Vyver in his new post will have to be the guardian of the image of 87 Helicopter Flying School. The four values of the organisation will be guiding him, Human dignity, Excellence in all we do, Integrity and Service before self.


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