FLYING Cheetahs

Bush-strip lookouts equipped with gongs and gifts of wild cats as mascots – Steve Maclean details the colourful exploits of the South African 2 Squadron

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Elementary facilities at Wajir included a lookout posted in a tree. This was a common occurrence at bush strips where early-warning relied solely on the good eyesight of Kenyan regulars and vigorous banging of a gong!

The few personnel that constituted the near-dormant 2 Squadron, South African Air Force (SAAF), took their first steps to war as they boarded a trio of Vickers Valentia transport aircraft.

What awaited them was a challenging adventure in East Africa where, for the most part, they would be required to operate ageing biplane fighters.

They were departing Zwartkop Air Station outside Pretoria on May 13, 1940, bound for their first experiences in the bush of Kenya.

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