South African Air Force Oryx Reaches 100,000 hours
The South African Air Force celebrated 100000 flying hours with its fleet of 39 Oryx helicopters.
SAAF, October 31, 2005 - The South African Air Force celebrated 100 000 flying hours with its fleet of 39 Oryx helicopters.
The Oryx has been flying since 1990 and on the 25th of October 2005 celebrated this milestone at 17 Squadron, Swartkop.
For the past 13 years this aircraft has been used in humanitarian support and peacekeeping missions in Africa. Members of the media got a chance to fly in Oryx No.1203 and 1206 to Hartbeespoort Dam.
Lt Col Craffies Crawford has been flying aircraft for the last 26 years. He started flying the Oryx during 1992. His career was highlighted in flying the Puma and Alouette but he eventually returned back to the Oryx. “There is no greater privilege than flying a helicopter,” he said.
In the past the Air Force utilised the Puma helicopter but due to unique and extreme weather conditions in Africa the Oryx had to take over and fulfill the new challenges. The fleet of Puma helicopters accumulated 53 000 hours before they were phased out and replaced. The Oryx helicopter was developed for hot and dry conditions, and being a twin engine aircraft as well was exactly what the Air Force needed. It also proved its worth and endurance during support and a rescue mission in Antarctica. The Oryx is currently one of the strongest helicopters in its class and it can withstand any harsh conditions.
The Oryx helicopter has been used in support tasks, elections, flood relieve and regional cooperation missions. Six squadrons in South Africa are home to these aircraft. 17 Squadron has 10 Oryx helicopters of which two are used for the United Nations in peacekeeping missions in Burundi.
This helicopter has also been used extensively in South Africa to assist the SA Police Services. It has been used to counter hostage situations, for rapid deployment and moving of roadblocks and mountain and sea rescue. According to Brig Gen Paine the Oryx has been flying successfully for the last 15 years and although some upgrades will have to be done in the near future, this great aircraft can go on for at least another 15!