Saturday morning, 09th November, heralded an exciting day for the recently passed out Young Falcons. They paid a visit for Morningstar airfield and we afforded the opportunity to meet club members and were all given a chance to undertake a flight around the area.
Morningstar Flying Club, under the chairmanship of Ross Leighton, semi-retired CA, has become well known for its interaction with local communities and organisations and this was a chance to expose young potential aviators to general aviation and a flying club.
Safety briefing before taking the students for a flight
The Young Falcons programme is a voluntary programme run from AFB Ysterplaat. It is under the leadership of Major Apollis, herself a Lynx Pilot with 22 Squadron. All the leaders and mentors are based on the Base and voluntarily give up their time to run and administer the programme. The leaders are from various Units and are all experts in their fields. It is part of the Ysterplaat Voluntary Outreach programme. Rotary Clubs are also assisting, where necessary and as required.
The programme is open to anyone over the age of 15 years, however emphasis is placed on Grade 10 and 11 pupils. The programme has recently undergone a big change and is now a much shorter condensed and more practical programme, that is was a few years ago.
Students and their parents, waiting their turn to fly
The students all enjoyed the day, although there were a few nervous ones around! The weather was prefect and made for a pleasant morning’s activities.
Club stalwart, Mike Taylor, showing a student, how to do a pre-flight
The focus is primarily on the SAAF, however the students are exposed to many aspects of aviation. They meet every third Saturday and over school holidays, short camps are held. The students are also exposed to military discipline and procedures and are also taught to march and partake in various parades over the year.
Whilst many of the activities are based around the SAAF and Ysterplaat and the various units there, visits were also undertaken, in the past year, to:
• Stellenbosch University Engineering faculty – to expose the students to the engineering and technical side of aviation,
• Stellenbosch Airfield,
• the ATNS complex at Cape Town International – to see how ATC fits into the field of aviation
• the Maritime Survival centre, next to the Waterfront. There the students were afforded the opportunity to experience a dunking and escape from a submerged helicopter
The students are also given various tasks and projects to complete over the year.
There is no obligation to join the SANDF after completion of the programme, however as Major Apollis said to me, they hoped many students would consider a career in the SAAF, failing that, in some other field of aviation.
It is a truly great programme and has personal growth and discipline at is heart and as core values. It teaches the students a lot about themselves, life skills, discipline, work ethics and how to work as a team, whilst giving them exposure to the broad world of flying and aviation
The programme lasts for approx. 11 months and recently culminated in a passing out programme at Ysterplaat, where top students were recognised for their efforts. The programme this year, had 40 students. Proud parents were invited to watch the passing out parade. They are also encouraged to attend open days, like the Morningstar visit, to engage with fellow parents and see the progress their children are making, as well as affording them a chance to also experience the thrill that is aviation.
This programme has the many benefits and further information can be obtained via their Facebook Page – Young Falcons.