The Silver Falcons proud heritage dates back to 1946, at the time the team was named the “Bumbling Bees” and were flying a four ship formation in North American T6 Harvard’s.
With the delivery of the first SAAF de Havilland Vampires in 1951 the team lobbied strongly to upgrade the team to the Vampire, two years later in 1953 the team did their first display effectively taking SAAF aerobatic teams into the “Jet Age”.
The Bumbling Bees continued to wow South Africans until they were disbanded in 1958, this however was not the end for the team. In 1966, under the leadership of Commandant Chris Prins, the team was revived and at the time they flew the newly acquired Aermacchi MB-326 Impala Mk I. The Impala was locally built, under licence from Aermacchi, by Atlas Aircraft Corporation which later became Denel Aviation.
In the mid 1960’s the Nationalist Government were insistent on Afrikaans being the prominent language in South Africa and the name “Bumbling Bees” just didn’t fit the bill, as a result the team had to be renamed and the name “Silwer Valke” was born, translated directly to English “Silver Falcons”. The first display of the newly named ‘Silver Falcons” was at the official opening of Atlas Aircraft Corporation on 24 November 1967, very aptly as the team were flying in the company’s flagship aircraft.
In 1985 the team aircraft were painted in the Orange, White and Blue, of the South African flag at the time, the team’s popularity grew and they were in high demand for airshows and official events all over South Africa. In 1988 the display was improved with the addition of a fifth member, a soloist, who kept up the show pace while the four ship were forming up for their next pass. Airforce Base Hoedspruit became the team’s new home in 1992, when they were moved with 85 Combat Flying School.
On 2 October 1993 the team suffered their first and only fatality to date, when the late Capt. Charles Rudnick crashed due to catastrophic wing failure at the Lanseria Airshow. The incident was due to a structural failure and no fault of Capt. Rudnick, it did however result in a short grounding but the team was soon up and flying again.
Once again the policies of the day forced change on the team, with the advent of the democratic South Africa the Orange, White and Blue were no longer acceptable and at the Presidential Inauguration of Nelson Mandela on the 10 May 1994 The Silver Falcons made their first appearance in the new, White, Navy and Artic Blue, livery trailing smoke in the colours of the New South African Flag.
The team continued to operate out of AFB Hoedspruit until September 1997 where they performed the last Impala display. In 1998, the Silver Falcons relocated once again to AFB Langebaanweg, this time to the Central Flying School and a new era began with the adoption of the Pilatus PC 7 Mk II Astra.
The PC7 Astra replaced the Harvard in 1995 as the initial SAAF trainer and a decision was made that they would replace the Impala as the Silver Falcons display machines. Lieutenant Colonel Dave Knoesen led the new look Silver Falcons in their first display on 30 October 1999. The team once again consisted of only four aircraft and were displayed in the standard red and white colours of the training Astra, with team position numbers added to the tails at a later stage to distinguish Falcon aircraft. The Falcons quickly regained their popularity, despite many people commenting on their move from jets to props, they were once again invited to appear at airshows all over South Africa.
The Silver Falcons regained their unique identity with the exciting new livery, which was released to the public for the first time at Africa Aerospace and Defence Expo (AAD) at Air Force Base Ysterplaat on 17 September 2008. The paint for the new scheme was kindly donated by Mr Kuba Miszewski of First African Paints, an aviation enthusiast from Durban.
The Falcons had once again added a fifth member and the high paced display won over the favour of the airshow crowds once again, even if they didn’t have the loud presence that the jets did.
At AAD 2012, held at AFB Waterkloof, the Silver Falcons added a new dimension to their show with the first appearance of the Douglas C47TP carrying the Silver Falcons distinct livery. Unfortunately, this addition was very short lived as the C47TP was involved in a terrible accident in the Drakensberg in a non-Flacon related flight on 5 December of the same year.
The Silver Falcons have been involved in many events of international significance including the opening of the 2010 FIFA World CUP, They have been part of the inauguration of every president of the democratic South Africa, and had the honour of being part of the final salute to the first Commander in Chief of the South African National Defence Force, Nelson Mandela.
The current team, Team #82, have been together since the 17 May 2018 and have been very active since then flying displays in all nine provinces of South Africa.
Lead: Major Omphile “Biggy” Mutloane
No 2: Major Tiaan “Excell” Stander
No 3: Major Corné “Stilbo” van Deventer
No 4: Major Bheki “Swazboy” Shabangu
No 5: Major Sivu “Sivuple” Tangana
These magnificent Aviators will be at the SAAF Museum Airshow on 7 September make sure you there to support them.