Pretoria: Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano, has retired after serving the Air Force for 44 years and handed over the reigns to Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande Msimang.
Lieutenant General Gagiano, during the Change of Command event on Friday, welcomed Lieutenant General Msimang as the first black Chief of the Air Force.
Lieutenant General Msimang had unveiled his new rank at the opening of this year’s Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition and airshow held at the Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof in Pretoria recently.
Lieutenant General Gagiano joined the South African Air Force in 1968 and qualified as a pilot on the Air Macchi 326M in December 1969. During his career with the South African Air Force he flew the Harvard, Pilatus PC 7, Vampire, F86 Sabre, Mirage III, F1CZ, as well as the Cheetah D and E aircraft.
Speaking on Friday, Lieutenant General Gagiano said he would retain his good relations with the Air Force. “I will continue to give my full support to the South African Air Force,” he said.
He said flying was his passion and that it was something he had enjoyed. “One could have not asked for a better career,” he said, adding that he had flown a total of 4100 flying hours over the years.
Asked about transformation in the Air Force, he said despite some challenges, they were on track in addressing all issues pertaining to transformation. He said the Air Force was still struggling to attract pilots.
Lieutenant General Msimang integrated into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1994 after the first democratic elections, as a qualified pilot on the Mi 25 helicopter. He received his flying training at Frunze 1 Central Officers Training Centre in Kirghizstan, in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from 1986 to 1991.
During his career he has flown the Mi 8, Mi 25, Allouette III, Oryx helicopters and also did a factory conversion on the A109 helicopter at Agusta/Westland in Italy.
Accepting his new role in the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Msimang said he was not going to make many changes as the Air Force was in good hands.
Msimang was announced as Chief of the Air Force in June this year by Chief of the South African National Defence Force (C SANDF), General Solly Shoke. His appointment will be effective from 1 October.