Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday presented Wings to 11 pilot cadets at Thornhill Airbase in Gweru.
The Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces also commissioned 26 Basic Officers Training graduates at the 67th Pilot Training Course Wings presentation and Basic Officers Course number one of 2016 graduation ceremony at the airbase.
Of the 11 cadet pilots, three were women while there were also 10 female graduands on the Basic Officers Course.
In his speech after presenting the Wings and commissioning parade ceremony, President hailed Zimbabwe and Namibia relations.
He said the sister countries should continue strengthening the cordial relationship they have nurtured over the years, adding that number the 67 Pilot Training Course was jointly managed by Zimbabwean and Namibian Pilot Instructors.
President Mugabe said the military synergies between the two Southern African countries should enable them to develop and assist each other in every facet that concerns the two nations.
“Number 67 Pilot training Course jointly managed by Zimbabwean and Namibian pilot instructors, is indeed the first of its kind, run by the Defence Forces of our two countries. It demonstrates and underlines the depth of the relationship and understanding between our two great nations,” said President Mugabe.
“To our friends from the land of the brave, Namibia, I would like to say, let us continue to strengthen the cordial relationship which we have nurtured over the years in order to develop and assist each other in every facet that concerns our countries.”
The President said ZDF has remained steadfast regardless of the biting effects of the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western detractors for over a decade.
“Today we are celebrating the successful completion of these two courses and indeed making recognition of the hard work and steadfastness of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, in particular and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in general. In spite of a number of challenges among them the biting effects of sanctions imposed on our country for over a decade, the Air Force of Zimbabwe ensured that the two courses were successfully conducted,” he said.
“Number 67 Pilot training Course which commenced on October 1, 2012 had 20 Pilot Cadets. It comprised of three phases namely, Military Training Phase, Ground School and Flying Phase. The military training phase was done at the school of flying training and completed on May 31, 2014, at the end of which the cadets were commissioned to the rank of Air-Sub-Lieutenant.
“During the same year students of the flying training course were posted to the Number 6 Squadron to begin Ground School Training and the Flying Phase of Pilot training. As a means of deepening the skills base within the Operations Branch, some of the students who had been posted to Number 6 Squadron were sent abroad to undertake other special flying courses.”
President Mugabe said two students in the same course returned home after completing special courses in the People’s Republic of China.
The students — His Excellency said — covered various ground lessons which are designed to equip them with in-depth knowledge of the SF260 aircraft systems and other aviation related subjects.
“The Flying Phase which is the critical phase for this course was designed to equip the student pilots with appropriate skills and techniques to enable them to excel in any platform within the Air Force of Zimbabwe. The students underwent flying exercises that included general handling, stalling, spinning, instrument flying, formation, aerobatics, night flying and navigation. They successfully completed this phase after doing at least 120 flying hours. By the end of the Course students had been rigorously examined in aviation knowledge and skills and were assessed and judged as truly ready to become part of the highly reputed Air Force of Zimbabwe flying crew,” said President Mugabe.
He said since the personnel who enrolled for the course came from various walks of life, such as doctors, engineers and administrators.
The course content, which was comprehensive, inclusive and varied, featured subjects such as Military Law, Arms and Sword Drill, Map reading, First Aid and Civil Military Relations.
“Students were after training transformed from civilian life into disciplined and quality Air Force of Zimbabwe Officers,” said President Mugabe. — @pchitumba1