After a long and exciting career with the South African Air Force and the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team, I have decided that its time to hang-up my gloves and step down that someone else may experience the honour of leading such a World Class Team and furthermore also allow a new member the opportunity to experience the thrills of Precision Aerobatic Flying.
Over the course of my two tours with this professional Team, I have been privileged to fly in the No3 and No2 positions before my appointment as Leader in 2010. Highlights of my Falcons career include, but are certainly not limited to having performed numerous live broadcast aerial displays ranging from the Opening of the FIFA World Cup, the Nedbank Cup Soccer Challenge and a Presidential Inauguration to name but a few. Other highlights are the regular formations flown with other aircraft ranging from the Airbus A340 to a Cessna 172!
However all of this aside, what made every challenge and show worthwhile must certainly be the publics enthusiasm and the support shown by the rest of the aviation fraternity. Without the public, no Team could survive and the pride and passion shown by the members of the public was phenomenal, during down times and periods of uncertainty, the public and the Teams supporters were always there with words of encouragement and every shows attendance was beyond expectations, even in areas far removed from major cities and hubs.
I must also commend and thank the civilian and military pilots and support crews on the Air Show Circuit for their continual support, friendship and ‘can do’ attitude. The aviation world is very small and the Air Show world even smaller, yet every individual and Team feels like family and arriving at a venue was always exciting to see the familiar faces and if you ever needed advice or help with something, you were never far from a helping hand. I hope that this comradeship between the various Teams and individuals continues to go from strength to strength.
The regular photographers on trips also formed a very special bond with the Team and I must thank them for all the positive PR and willingness to share their work with the Team. Their continual passion for their work over the years has really helped build up the image of the Team and without a doubt inspired many a young person to pursue a career in aviation.
It’s with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to Team 74, this Team has had a special bond, are all truly inspirational pilots and brought some unique qualities to the table! I know that each member of the Team will go on to assist and support their new Leader just as they did for me and continue to fly the flag high. It is however a great comfort knowing that Maj Beau Skarda will now be taking the reigns of the Team and be leading the “Cockpit Ambassadors” of the SAAF into the future. Beaus’ friendship and experience were paramount to making my tour as Leader so smooth and I wish him well for his future as No1.
Without the SAAF’s training and support throughout my career, I would never have been able to experience and be part of the Teams rich and colourful history and for this I will always be grateful. To meet the majority of the ex-Falcons members during last years 45th Silver Falcons Reunion was an honour and reaffirmed why this Team is considered one of the best in the world.
Finally, a special and heartfelt thank you goes to my wife, Helma and my kids, Robert and Nicole. Without their support, my tour with the Team would not have been possible! I am eternally grateful that they allowed me to pursue this dream and stood steadfast behind me even though it meant weeks away from home.
Thank you to all the Silver Falcons supporters and my best wishes to Team 75!
Major Roy Sproul
Outgoing Team Leader