This week, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) held a Wings Parade ceremony, a very special event which marked the end of No 26 Basic Pilot Course, commenced on April 16 last year.
Speaking at the ceremony, held at Thebepatshwa Air Base, Lieutenant Colonel Dikeledi explained that this flying training course, lasting 12 months, is modeled to produce pilots with a high level of proficiency in Airmanship skills and Situational Awareness so that upon reaching the Operational squadrons, they find the transition smooth,” he explained.
“Our task was to fly 3200 hours for 19 students in 12 months. Course No 26 was completed this month on the 16th, thus 12 months later, having achieved 2509 hours,” he stated.
Dikeledi said their mandate is to conduct the flying and ground training on ab-initio pilots on PC 7 aircraft with the aim of producing professional military pilots.
“These graduates have achieved the knowledge and skills required for the fighter stream for the highest military standard set by air forces through out the world. But this does not mean they will end up as fighter pilots as some will join other streams in the transport and helicopter steam,” he said.
“Every pilot owes it to his instructor that he produces another pilot, like he owes to his previous generations. Always remember the fruit is sweet if you sweat and struggle because the rewards are tremendous. A satisfaction within yourself,” he concluded.
In his remarks, the Minister for Defence, Justice and Security, Ndelu Seretse, noted that the occasion was all the more special and momentous as BDF had, for the first time, four student pilots from South Africa graduating as part of the No 26 basic flying training course.
“They have made our country proud and have been true ambassadors,” said the Minister.
Seretse told the graduates that the day had ushered them into the beginning of a new chapter in their professional lives, and warned them that they will be exposed to even greater challenges in their careers as military pilots. He said they had passed the second hurdle on graduating as military pilots, which is proof enough of their dedication to be true defenders of this great nation.
Seretse said the career path that these pilots had chosen is full of personal sacrifices and demands absolute dedication to duty. “Remember that soldering is a calling and a commitment to serve the nation,” he emphasized, reminding them that from time to time they might be expected to demonstrate the professional skills and leadership qualities they have attained so far in the performance of their everyday tasks.
He said he had no doubt that the training these pilots had been put through had prepared them for this role thus allowing them to apply themselves adequately to the demands of their calling.
“The principle of discipline, unquestionable loyalty and professional excellence must be upheld in the daily discharge of your duties,” he said.