The South African Air Force Association (SAAFA) was founded in 1945 with the purpose of continuing the spirit and camaraderie of the South African Air Force generated during World War II. It also wanted to perpetuate the memory of all brave Air Force men and women who paid the supreme sacrifice for their country and, in particular, to assist with the welfare of their widows and children.
Today the association still supports the men and women who have dedicated their lives to the Air Force. According to Ansie Lavis, editor of the SA Air Force Association’s Bloemfontein branch’s newsletter, the association recreates a lighthearted atmosphere through the togetherness of its aviation-minded members and also enjoins them to share responsibility for the needs of less fortunate former SAAF members and their spouses.
“The SAAFA actively promotes the image of the SA Air Force and its members. The two-fold activity of having fun while raising funds has continuously produced excellent results over the years. Funds raised are distributed via the association’s Care of the Aged programme. All persons who served, or had once served in the SA Air Force or any other Allied Air Force, are eligible to join this unique fraternity,” Lavis says.
A few years ago Lavis became involved when she and her husband, Warrant Officer 1, Gavin Lavis, moved to Bloemfontein from Hoedspruit. When the national leg of the association asked Lavis for feedback on previous years’ annual conferences, she realised that some major information on Bloem’s SAAFA was missing.
She then decided to compile a book about all the interesting people and events that happened in Bloem. She says they hope young air force members will join the association and that it will be a support system for many. Members of the Bloemfontein branch are invited to attend the medal parades held at the Bloemspruit Air Force as well as the annual Air Force Memorial Service taking place at Bloemspruit in May.
Members can also attend the annual Remembrance Day Service in November at the School of Armour, Springbok Park and various high schools in Bloemfontein. The branch committee has monthly meetings and the meeting is held at Air Force Base Bloemspruit every second month whereafter members are invited to join the committee and members of the base for lunch at the mess.
The SA Air Force Association’s Bloemfontein branch will be holding its Annual General Meeting on 17 March 2017 at Air Force Base Bloemspruit. For more information all interested parties can contact one of the following ladies before 10 March 2017: Ronell Opperman at 083-300-7248 or Ansie Lavis at 082-873-2284. – Maricelle Botha