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Article by Maj Marina Swart, ICTM Officer, AFB Overberg
Photographs taken by FSgt Karin Coetzee, Photographer AFB Overberg

The Aeroanautical Society of South Africaís main objective is the promotion of Aerospace Engineering. The Western Cape Chapter of this Society finds itself in the unique position of having the Test Flight and Development Centre (TFDC), as well as the top Aeronautical Faculty, located at Stellenbosch University, in its region.

Mr Johnson explains the Astra to the group.

The regional chairperson of the Aeronautical Society of SA, Dr Alan J. Nelson, brought a group of graduate and post-graduate students, accompanied by their professors, for a visit to TFDC on 23 April 2009. The group arrived in perfect weather on a Dakota from 35 Squadron in Cape Town. This soon turned into heavy rain in the Overberg. After a welcome cup of coffee, Lt Col Jacques Swanepoel introduced the group to the roles and responsibilities of TFDC. A tour was conducted through the hangar, starting with the Telemetry section, which certainly stimulated the groupís interest as Mr Trevor Slater had quite a number of challenging questions to answer. Following this, FSgt Peregrino enlightened the group on the performance of the Gripen, and after that Mr Johnson and FSgt Le Seuer shared their experience on the Cheetah, Astra, Agusta, Oryx and Rooivalk.

FSgt le Seuer with the groupat the Oryx.

Dr Nelson, who is a retired Colonel, said that the visit to TFDC was an excellent opportunity for the students to see and experience real-time operations of aeronautical dynamics and that this visit would be very beneficial to their studies. He said they also visited several civilian aeronautical institutions, but nowhere did they receive better exposure than the one to TFDC. The students were fascinated by the performance and operations conducted by TFDC despite the severe shortage of skilled flying- and ground personnel.

Aeronautical Society Group at TFDC.

The visit was concluded with a light finger lunch prepared by the AFB Overberg mess personnel. Thereafter the flight back to 35 Squadron at AFB Ysterplaat took place.

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