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Squadron 28


The Squadron was officially formed as a transport squadron on 1 June 1943 during the Second World War and was initially supplied with Dakota, Anson and Wellington aircraft. At the end of hostilities during the latter half of 1945 and early 1946 the Squadron formed an integral part of the "Shuttle Service" from Cairo to Pretoria. In April 1946 the unit was reorganised as a Permanent Force unit and was confined to internal services, occasional overseas and VIP flights.

In 1963 the SAAF acquired Hercules C130B aircraft which were flown from the USA to the RSA by members of 28 Squadron, to herald a new era of transport flying in the Air Force. The Squadron received its colours from the Chief of the Defence Force, General R.C. Hiemstra, SSA, SM on 25 August 1967.

By 1968 the air transport commitments of the SAAF had increased considerably and it was decided to increase the logistic capability. At this time the VIP element of the Squadron was transferred and a new VIP Squadron formed. The Squadrons aircraft was, however, augmented with the arrival of C160Z Transall aircraft in August 1969. These aircraft were withdrawn from service on 8 January 1993.


Apart from the outstanding service to the Allied Forces during the Second World War, the Squadron also participated in the Berlin Airlift from the 22nd September 1948 to the 25th September 1949 with great distinction.

After acquiring C130B's the Squadron started training flights to Europe, flying round the bulge of Africa and pre-positioning most of SA Airways' heavy ground equipment at Luanda, Iiha do Sal, Las Palmas and Lisbon, facilitating smooth operation of what became known as SAA's bulge route.

Various scientific and industrial research flights were carried out on numerous occasions. In 1963 a C130B acted as an airborne weather station for two US Air Force C130B's flying non-stop from Cape Town to Mac Murdo sound in the geophysical probes, collecting data about the atmospheric layers for various organisations. These maximum endurance flights were carried out regurlarly at biennial intervals.

Part of the Squadron's functions are to carry out search and rescue operations as well as mercy flights. In the latter role, an emergency supply drop was carried out at Gough Island on 16 November 1971. A similar mission took place at Marion Island on 11the July 1984. Many successful search and rescue flights were carried out for missing aircraft. There were, among others, the search for and capping of a Buccaneer crew downed in the Atlantic on 30the October 1965. A radar steer to the dinghy was eventually given by the 28 Squadron crew to the rescue ship, the SA Randfontein. In July 1975 a C130B took part in the search for the missing yacht, Girasol, in the Indian Ocean. On the 28th February 1977 the crew of a C160Z found a light aircraft after it had hit a giraffe, and crashed on its delivery flight from the United States. Another memorable incident was the dramatic rescue of the crew of the stranded Danish ship, Pep Ice, which ran around on a coral reef in the Mozambique Channel in January 1980. In this case the RSA indicated its willingness to cross socialistic and other political barriers in the achievement of humanistic objectives, as not only the Republic, but also the Mozambican, French and Danish governments were involved. Apart form a Schakleton and Puma helicopters participating, three C160Z aircraft were tasked to enable this rescue operation to take place.

28 Squadron is a fully operational squadron and took an active part in the events in Angola during 1975/6. On the 11th March 1978 two C130B aircraft transported 92,5 tons of maize meal from Victoria Falls to Mpacha because all the roads in the area had been washed away. The Squadron also took part in the Cassinga raid in May 1978. A paradrop, carried out by a combination of C130B and C160Z aircraft, is believed to have been the largest operational paradrop in Africa since the Suez crises in 1956.

In 1965 the Squadron was presented with the first SA Air Force Exceptional Flying Safety Award for achieving a truly remarkable safety record over a long period of time. The award was again presented in 1976 and 1978. It is not only on the operational front that the Squadron has had remarkable achievements. On the 27th May 1985 history was made once again when the Squadron's aircraft passed the 100 000th flying hour since 1963. Of this, a total of 55 200 hours had been logged by the C130B's and 44 800 hours by the C160Z's.

The South African Air Force Operational Efficiency Award for 1985 was presented to 28 Squadron on 2 May 1986.

During the Helderberg disaster in 1987 and the sinking of the Oceanos in August 1991 the squadron played a meaningful roll.

Technical Maintenance

28 Squadron is almost entirely self-sufficient wrt the servicing and repair of aircraft. This includes servicing from a minor up to a major servicing level including the ability to repair accident damage. The overhaul and intricate maintenance/servicing of instruments, electronic equipment and engines are, however, the responsibility of the various appropriate servicing depots. This specialised work is carried out locally, although the Squadron is, to a large extent, dependant on overseas suppliers and manufacturers for spares.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:10:19 ZULU