Air Force Reserves



 What is the Air Force Reserve?

The Air Force Reserve (AFR) is a uniformed part-time component of the South African Air Force (SAAF) largely made up of qualified specialists in aviation and aviation related fields that support the Air Force core mission. It is not a full-time employment opportunity. Members are paid for the number of hours served on the scale equivalent to their rank. Pilots, Technicians, ATC receive the same benefits as theit Reg F counterparts. They also get standby and overtime allowance. Members can also be called up on a continuous basis depending on the requirements.


 Abridged  History of the Citizen Aviator in South Africa

(A more detailed history is available from Directorate Air Force Reserve 012 312 2295)

The first involvement of “citizen-aviators” in the military environment in South Africa can be traced back to 1912. Cecil Compton-Paterson was appointed as the first instructor at the “Military Aviation School” established to train aviators for the “South African Aviation Corps”. A while later the Transvaal Air Training Squadron (TATS) was established to train aviators for the Regular Air Force, this was a slow process and by1923 only 17 officers and 218 other ranks were serving in the fledgling force. To speed up the process a Special Reserve of Flying Officers (SRFO) was established in 1923 to do refresher courses for aviators and in 1926 to do cadet training. (The SRFO existed for several years after World War II.)

In 1925 the SAAF began training cadets to supplement the SRFO pilots. Ground subjects were presented at the Military College and flying training at Zwartkop Air Station. Ten student pilots were awarded SAAF Flying Badges (wings) after qualifying in 1927 and were absorbed into the TATS. Two courses followed in 1930 producing a further 38 cadets. At the same time a scheme to train 50 artisans was initiated.

In July 1927 a scheme of part-time courses for undergraduate pilots and later for artisans was started at the Transvaal University College (presently University of Pretoria) who formed the TUC Air Squadron as part of the SRFO. In 1928 this squadron was absorbed into the TATS and flying and ground training was done before and after normal working hours.

In Europe the rumblings of an impending war were being heard and South Africa, along with other European nations, began to look at military resources. In 1935 the ”One Thousand Pilots” Scheme to train 1000 pilots and 700 aircraft mechanics was launched with a view to training 1000 pilots and 700 mechanics by 1942. To achieve this the TATS was expanded beyond the University of Pretoria to include ab-initio training at civilian flying clubs with advanced training at SAAF Flying Training Schools. In July 1938 the TATS was reorganized into 13 flights located at strategic points in the country and renamed the Union Air Training Group.

In December of the same year the Women’s Aviation Association was with established eight branches with no less than 67 pilots of which 18 were grade “A” and two were instructors. The day war was declared on 4 September 1939 the Association volunteered their services and in November the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was taken into the Women’s Auxiliary Defence Force. The WAAF was established as a separate entity, by government gazette on 10 May 1940 and by 1943 numbered nearly 7000 members in some 75 different fields of aviation. During WWII more than 10 000 women served in the WAAF. At the cessation of hostilities in 1945many South African volunteers had served in the Allied forces.

An Active Citizen Force (ACF) was established soon after the end of WWII with the establishment of No 1 City of Pretoria Squadron in August 1947 with other squadrons following suit in major centers around South Africa. These Squadrons flew ex-WWII aircraft and later more modern aircraft in SAAF inventory. SAAF ACF members volunteered for service with 2 Squadron under the auspices of the United Nations in Korea. Various ACF Squadrons eventually amalgamated with Regular Force Squadrons with ACF pilots doing weekend duties such as communication “Shuttle Service” flights between Pretoria and other centres, as well as air ambulance mercy flights and stand by’s.

By 1964 twelve Air Commando squadrons had also been formed to undertake communication and reconnaissance flights.. These squadrons (101 to 112) were manned by civilian volunteers using their own, or hired, aircraft. In 1976 a special women’s squadron (114) was added. These squadrons provided invaluable service by providing communication flights, air reconnaissance for the SA Police and the army, light transport flights to name a few. The title of these squadrons was changed in 1994 to Volunteer Air Squadrons and in 1998 to Air Force Reserve Squadrons, as they are known today.


 A New Approach

A new philosophy for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) regarding the Reserve Force emerged around the turn of the Millennium. A strategic requirement is for a relatively small Regular Force and a larger Reserve Force. A vibrant, young, AFR was envisaged which could serve the SAAF during the phasing in of new equipment and beyond. This requirement was to be in line with a SANDF strategy managed under “Project Phoenix” which is aimed a rejuvenating the Reserve. The new AFR is an integral part of the SAAF, within the concept of one integrated force, and in line with the SAAF Vision 2012. All members of the SAAF are regarded as having equal status and identical performance standards are required from both regular and reserve force members. The AFR should reflect the composition and cultural diversity of the SA population. Due to the highly specialized nature of SAAF operations and technical equipment the spectrum of volunteers to be utilised would, of necessity, have to be specialists. Members of the AFR would have to be handpicked experts who would form a pool with diverse aviation expertise, from which the SAAF could draw competence according to need. Equal dispensation regarding race, gender, religion and culture is fundamental. The AFR provides the capability to expand the SAAF timeously for as long or short a period as is deemed necessary. Between active assignments members of the AFR reside in the AFR Inactive Structure (the Pool).


 Air Force Reserve Council

The Air Force Board approved the establishment of an Air Force Reserve Council (AFRC) in 1998 as an integral part of SAAF management. The AFRC, chaired by an AFR member appointed by the Chief of the Air Force, is seated at the Air Office. It comprises a number of senior Reserve Force Officers appointed by the Chief of the Air Force to advise and assist him on policy and strategic issues regarding the AFR and SAAF Veterans.


 Directorate Air Force Reserve

The Directorate is situated at the Air Command under the command of an AFR Brigadier General. The Directorate advises and assists the General Officer Commanding of Air Command regarding the administration of the AFR. The Director has a complement of AFR Staff Officers and personnel who deal with the day-to-day administration of the Directorate and AFR members in the Pool.


 Air Force Territorial Reserve

This element is made up of nine AFR Squadrons stationed at strategic centres throughout the country. The Reserve Squadrons operate civilian-registered aircraft. The pilots must either have their own suitable aircraft or must have guaranteed access to the use of an aircraft appropriate to provide a service to the SAAF. AFR Squadrons are based as indicated below and the Officers Commanding are as follows:

Squadron Officer Commanding Location Telephone
101 Lt Col Fanie Erasmus AFB Hoedspruit
102 Lt Col Kowie Roux AFB Makhado
104 Lt Col Kimleigh Pratley AFB Waterkloof
105 Lt Col Alastair Clark AFB Durban
106 Lt Col Lucas Wiese AFB Bloemspruit
107 Lt Col Jan Human Kimberley
108 Lt Col Frikkie Greef AFS Port Elizabeth
110 Lt Col Riaan van Zyl AFB Ysterplaat
111 Lt Col Lyle Dodds AFB Waterkloof  


 Air Force Conventional Reserve

The conventional element of the AFR is made up of aircrew serving in Regular Force Squadrons, the protection and tactical airfield services, aeronautical technicians and other civilian aviation expertise as well as experts in disciplines relevant to the needs of the SAAF.


 Requirements for membership of the Air Force Reserve

The AFR is in need of members who are South African citizens who possess an aviation related expertise, within the context of the SAAF core requirements. People who wish to make their services available, on a part-time basis, to serve in the defence of the Republic of South Africa. Vacancies for utilisation in the conventional units of the Regular Air Force currently exist for qualified pilots, navigators, flight engineers, air space controllers and aircraft artisans as well as management, logistic and administrative experts.


 What the Reserves are currently doing

Transformation and the need to downsize the SAAF from wartime Human Resource levels to peacetime requirements resulted in an exodus of Regular Force expertise on a large scale. Much of this expertise is required to:

a. maintain and sustain the assets of the SAAF,

b. mentor new entrants into the SAAF regarding training, flying and aircrew techniques and management as well as logistics and administrative procedures,

c. manage and assist in the core business of the SAAF.

The AFR is currently supporting the Regular Force structures in achieving abovementioned goals. AFR members are currently serving in human resource administration, supply administration, and with aircrew as pilots, test pilots and navigators, managing the training planning and administration of the Aviation Awareness Project “Siyandiza”, as chefs, aircraft mechanics, spray painters and air traffic controllers, in corporate communication, chaplain and legal services, in protection and intelligence as well as in various technical and other services.


 Why should I join?

Men and women with a sense of adventure and a passion for aviation have sought a “2nd way of life” to complement their existing careers in the private sector. The AFR meets this requirement whilst instilling a sense of pride in serving the country and its people in this special way.

The AFR is a part-time element of the SAAF Regular Force that is able to expand the capabilities of the SAAF at short notice for the defence of our country or to render humanitarian assistance in time of natural or other disasters. South African citizens with the wellbeing of the Nation at heart should make themselves available for part-time service in the Reserve Force of the SANDF and, those with a particular aviation oriented expertise, for service in the AFR.


 How to apply

Application to join the AFR can be made through the office of the Director Air Force Reserve at Air Command in Pretoria. . A numbered application document that must be completed and returned will be provided to applicants. Information regarding previous military and other relevant experience, academic qualifications and current employment detail is required. This will enable the Director to do a paper pre-selection of the applicant’s capabilities weighed against the requirements of the SAAF and available posts. Suitable applicants will thereafter be required to undergo clearance and a physical medical examination to determine suitability for regimental training and possible appointment. On successful completion of regimental training members will be allocated to a post and placed on the AFR database for utilisation when required. Once the member’s services are needed “man-days” will be made available for the member to report for duty. “Man-days” imply the number of days in the financial year which the member works and for which remuneration has been budgeted. Service rendered over and above the total number of allocated “man-days” is also permissible, but is without remuneration.

Members of the AFR are required to undergo SAAF Developmental courses before they may progress in the rank structure of the AFR.

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