“Pongos” dare to be buzzed by the SAAF’s best!

This extremely low flying South African Air Force Harvard was flown as a ‘dare’ to the pilot by the South African ‘pongo’ (army) personnel about to be buzzed.  ‘Pongo’ is a derogatory term used by other arms of the forces, such as the Navy or the Air Force to describe the Army – comes from the British army tradition of saying .. “where the pong (smell) goes – the army goes”.

The pilot of the Harvard is Quentin Mouton, who is currently Chief Pilot of Mango Airlines in South Africa. He said the following about these pictures taken on 2nd October 1964 on a South African aviation forum:

“We were 590 hr pilots at the time and the whole thing was illegal, stupid and needless to say, dangerous. The low flying limit was 200ft (or above, not below).

I would have been court-martialled if the SAAF knew. Too late now.. These pictures were taken 2nd October 64. I was the pilot. The pictures are original and not ‘touched up’.

The ‘Pongos’ were on a route march from Langebaan by the sea to Saldanha.

The previous night in the pub one of them had said: “Julle dink julle kan laag vlieg maar julle sal my nooit laat lê nie” (“You think you can fly low, but you’ll never make me lie down”). Hullo!!!

I went to look for them on the beach in the morning and was alone for the one picture. I was pulling up to avoid them. In the afternoon I had a formation with me and you can see the other aircraft behind me. (piloted by van Zyl, Kempen and Perold)

A friend by the name of Leon Schnetler (one of the pongos) took the pics.

The guy that said “Jy sal my nie laat lê nie” (“You won’t make me lie down”) said afterwards that he was saying to himself as I approached: “Ek sal nie lê nie, ek sal nie lê nie” (“I won’t lie down, I won’t lie down”) and when I had passed he found himself flat on the ground”

This subsequent photograph shows the “Pongos” hitting the deck and just how low that Harvard is.  Certainly not something that would be approved of today, but it does demonstrate the exemplary flying ability and training of SAAF pilots.


Memories from the past.

Quentin Mouton – 23,000 hrs, everything up to B747-400, presently Chief pilot MANGO Airlines and still actively flying the B737-800.

3 thoughts on ““Pongos” dare to be buzzed by the SAAF’s best!

  1. Pingback: What’s a pongo and how low can you go? | laststandonzombieisland

    • A Pomgo is the military nickname given by the Navy to refer to anyone in the Army – it comes from a phrase “where the army goes the pong (i.e bad smell) goes”. The lowest you can fly an aircraft is as low as ‘ground effect’ allows you, ground effect is the positive pressure generated between the wing and the ground creating lift.


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