South African Airways, the national flag carrier, yesterday joined the world in honour of Nelson Mandela, the first President of a democratic SA and Nobel Laureate, with a special fly-over at the Global Citizen Concert.
The fly-over was reminiscent of another special and historic “Madiba moment” when SAA did a fly-over more than two decades ago at the 1995 Rugby World Cup finals. The moment when Madiba walked onto the pitch wearing a Springbok cap and replica of the captain's number six jersey was immortalised in the movie Invictus.
SAA yesterday again captured the crowds when the biggest aircraft type in its fleet, the Airbus A340-600, with a message “Global Citizen – Be The Legacy – Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018” on its belly, seamlessly executed the fly-over at approximately 13h35. In the cockpit was Captain Andre Steenkamp, and First Officer Bradley Bennetts, with Captain Pierre Gouws overseeing safety. The crowds cheered when the SAA aircraft glided across the skies over FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, shortly before the official program for the day got underway.
“At the time when the world faces major challenges of inequality, poverty and intolerance, 'the global citizen initiative', is a fitting tribute to Nelson Mandela’s contribution to Global Humanity. SAA is proud to have played a part, however small," says Vuyani Jarana, SAA CEO.
The generous contribution of sponsors made the fly-over possible. SAA would like to express gratitude to Engen and Shell SA for sponsoring jet fuel, Airports Company SouthAfrica (ACSA) and Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) who have wavered take-off and landing fees, as well as SAA flight deck crew and technicians who volunteered their time.
The flyover is the highlight of SAA’s activities to mark the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations. The airline introduced a campaign in his honour in celebration and recognition of his influence towards the course of humanity in general and for his selfless contribution towards the transformation of South Africa, its freedom, and democracy South Africans enjoy today.