‘Incredible’ Low-Flying Air Force Jet Gets Joburg Residents Tweeting

A low-flying South African Air Force Gripen jet that circled a neighbourhood of Johannesburg on Thursday got people tweeting excitedly and taking videos of the seemingly errant plane.

And then it was back again on Friday. “Wonderful to hear and see the #Gripen #Fighterjet flying over Randburg this evening again!” was one tweet. Another tweeter said his mother had been waiting for hours for the next fly-by.

It was apparently all to celebrate the Air Force’s 96th birthday.

Several amateur videos of the thunderous flyover:

Some residents of Jukskei Park, Johannesburg North, Bloubosrand and North Riding thought the plane might crash, while others were thrilled. Said one news report: “While the sight and sound of the low-flying aircraft scared some residents who took to Twitter to post their concerns and experiences, aircraft enthusiasts found the sound ‘incredible’.”

It turned out the the series of manoeuvres and displays were practice for an Air Force Day celebration at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Centurion on Friday. On 1 February the SAAF will be 96 years old.

The South African government announced in November 1998 that it intended to purchase 28 BAE/SAAB JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft from Sweden at a cost of R10.875 billion, or $65 million a plane. These formed part of the arms procurement deal that was later the focus of an inquiry into possible corruption. The commission’s report was handed to President Jacob Zuma in December 2015.