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Farewell Message from SF4 - Major Heybrech van Niekerk

Posted by on in Falcons News Updates
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Some say it's the end of an era...

But I like to believe its the beginning of a great adventure :)

It's been a fruitful three years in the team. I started in March 2010 as the GLO of the legendary Team 70, the pioneers of many a flying feet. From formation flying on all types of heavy freighters to displaying in front of 2 billion people at the FIFA WORLD CUP SOCCER and yes, for those wondering, I was inside the stadium next to the Chief choreographer :) 

After performing fly offs amongst eleven possible candidates for the team the announcement was made on the 5th of August...

Being the first female in the team and basically  an "experiment" of note, training started and believe me... it wasn't for the faint of heart either...

Being able to take criticism, stern voices and a constant drive to achieve perfection during the entire sortie, although your concentration levels are lower than a pupil in school :-$, was all worth it in the end :)

I think everybody always wants a nice clear calm cool day for their first display but unfortunately for myself and my co-new-falcon it was a baptism of fire. Our first four displays... over water... and the last two being in the most turbulent conditions found... Simonstown navy festival... and let's not even mention the hottest and highest airfield in South Africa as your 5th and 6th display ... Ermelo...

For those who don't understand the significance about displaying over water let me try and explain. You have no depth perception over water which gives you a false sense or hope that the ground is still far far away of which  it is not so you have to adapted and scan your altimeter all the time looking for safety gates and achieving certain speeds and heights during the display. For flying "hot and high" goes all about loss of engine performance and control effectiveness of the aircraft due to the warm less dense air which in itself gives more challenges during the display.

I flew 44 displays as the number 2 of Team 71 &72 and 31 displays as the number 4 of Team 73. 

For me, the number 4  has been the most challenging regarding responsibilities and movement in the display. From having one aircraft formatting on you (which in itself requires a stable platform otherwise you making life dreadful for your team member trying to formate on you) to having three formatting aircraft and you being the only link between the leader, power available and geometry of the maneuver. Not to even mention flying in the box and constantly moving around to assist your fellow team mates by making the diamond look like a diamond although someone has fallen back in a maneuver sitting what feels like with mere inches away from their wings with your spinning propeller.

The journey hasn't been an all flowery one... it's had it's ups and downs, it's awesome moments, it's scary moments, it's good moments and it's bad ones but to have had the honour to be apart of something unique and having had the opportunity to achieve one of my most memorable dreams have been a absolute blessing and honour...

To all the photographers, fans, friends, family, supporters of the team thank you very much for everything you have all done and still is doing for the team. Its been an honour and privilege to display for you...

To my fellow and future team mates, good luck, keep it real and keep it safe!


Mother Goose/MG/HB/Heybie 

Member number 95 of the South African Air Force Aerobatic Dispaly Team

The Silver Falcons




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  • Guest
    Herma Wednesday, 13 February 2013


    Alle voorspoed met jou toekoms planne en baie dankie dat jy die vroulike geslag so goed verteenwoordig het en steeds jou vroulikheid behou het. Voorspoed aan jou opvolger en die res van die Valke - ons sien uit daarna om julle weer te sien by Virgina lugskou. Ons ou gesinnetjie is heeltemal "areo-heads" met ons seun van 14 wat niks anders wil wees as 'n "pilot" nie, so dit is hard spaar en gemotiveerd hou met die skoolwerk om die droom te bewaarheid.

  • Guest
    Adaan Wednesday, 13 February 2013


    Dankie Heybie dit was goooooooood:)

  • Guest
    Sari Wednesday, 13 February 2013


    Ek geniet dit altyd soveel wanneer julle in Langebaan oor my huis naby die seiljagklub vlieg, en probeer altyd buitekant toe gaan om te kyk.
    Dit was heerlik om te weet daar is 'n vrou ook as lid van die waaghalse. Ek was trots daarop, en op jou. Dankie.

  • Guest
    Irene McCullagh Sunday, 17 February 2013

    Very good luck for a new chapter opening in your future

    Dear Heybrech

    It has been an honour photographing you 'in action' so many times; you are a wonderful inspirational example to so many. May you prosper in your future endeavours.

  • Guest
    Nicole Breedt Tuesday, 02 April 2013

    Dearest Aunty Heybrech

    Good evening Aunty Heybrech I would just like to take this opportunity to say a very big thank you to you for being such an incredible best friend, inspiration and role model to me. It has been a really honor and priviledge to watch you fly at many Air Shows. You have inspired me to follow in your footsteps one day. You are the most incredible, humble, down to earth women and best friend that I have in my life. I want to wish you all the very best for your new adventure at YsterPlaat flying the Dakotas.
    Love always

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Guest Sunday, 28 May 2017