South Africa has not always had good press since the heady days of the new democracy, when the Rainbow Nation - under saintly Nelson Mandela - embraced reconciliation and joined the community of nations. The lifting of sanctions saw an inflow of investment and the economy soared. No longer a pariah on a war footing with its neighbours, Africa's mightiest country, its military and its aerospace industry had the chance to be a force for good in a continent often in turmoil, providing peacekeeping forces and the means for friendly states to keep the peace themselves.
Since then much has changed. A successful 2010 World Cup aside, most headlines have been bad: AIDS, crime, corruption and cronyism and a widening gap between rich and poor. The country - rich in resources and Africa's most developed economy - has been through a rough patch since the downturn in 2008. Despite new kit the armed forces have complained of underfunding, and the aerospace sector has struggled.
Now, Africa's status as a global growth region could be South Africa's salvation. Long the forgotten continent, raw material exports and a flurry of investment are raising living standards and boosting government spending. South African companies are meeting some of that demand on their doorstep with - among other things - aerospace equipment. It could get the country's economy - and aviation industry - flying again.
(This first appeared as a leading article in the 11 September issue of Flight International)