South African Airlines flew two of its A340-600 widebodies in a formation with South African Air Force on May 25, 2019. The flypast was part of the inauguration celebration of the country’s new president.

One of the formation crew members was SAA’s Chief Pilot, Captain Vusi Khumalo. Khumalo was one of the first four Black African pilots to join the airline in 1994 ‒ the first time Africans allowed to operate as pilots, SAA highlights. Other crew members were Captain Andre Steenkamp, Captain Mark Dethian, Senior First Officer (SFO) Monde Gxoyiya, Captain Pierre Gouws, SFO Hennie Badenhorst and SFO Julian Whitelaw.

“The SAA teams took off from OR Tambo International and through coordination with the South African Air Force, established formation over the skies west of Pretoria en route to the Loftus stadium,” according to a statement. “The flypast took place at an altitude of 300 feet and aircraft were moving at the speed of approximately 325 km/h ground speed, the lowest speed possible given the size of the commercial aircraft, which were operated”.

The formation was part of “celebrating 25 years of our democracy,” according to SAA. It took place during the inauguration ceremony of the country’s fifth post-apartheid president.