Tag: SAAF Museum

The Air Force Museum

Due to an unplanned party, our usual Wednesday Pretoria trip took a detour, and one of the places I revisited was the South African Air Force Museum at Swartkops AFB. I had originally visited there in December 2008, and had been somewhat disappointed, but also enthralled by their collection of aircraft. Nothing I saw though would really compare to the collection I had seen at The National Museum of the  US Air Force in Dayton Ohio in 2000. That place was truly amazing.
As usual I did have an ulterior motive in my visit, I really wanted to see the P51 Mustang that had evaded me in 2008, and was hoping to spot a complete Vampire too, the last Vampire I had seen had been incomplete. The images in this blog post are really a mix from my 2008 visit and the 2012 visit, because there have been changes since I had first been here.  There are aircraft that I have not added images of, that is because I did not have a specific interest in them on this visit.
Inside the museum (2008)

Inside the museum (2008)

The main display area on the apron housed the larger aircraft, and my special favourite has to be the Shackleton. She had been moved from her original spot, and as usual was really worth seeing up close and personal. 
Also dominating the area was the SAAF Boeing 707,  I had never been lucky enough to see one of these up close and personal, and she is really the only one I have seen. 
Actually that is a fib because I have been on board the 707 at Wright Patterson AFB. That particular aircraft, Boeing VC-137C – SAM 26000 (Boeing 707) had served President John F Kennedy as the presidential aircraft (aka “Air Force One”) before it too was replaced by a 747. Personally I prefer Boeing aircraft, these new fangled Airbus aircraft don’t work for me.

Also on the apron is the DC4 Skymaster, She too had been moved from my last visit, and she is deteriorating rapidly, the fabric of her elevators and ailerons is falling apart and she really needs to be under cover and restored.

A new addition that had not been there on my previous visit was a Puma helicopter. There was another Puma (or Oryx?) doing circuits and bumps while we were visiting but I never got any decent footage of her. 

Most of the Mirage and Impala had been moved under cover which should protect them from the elements, but the larger aircraft are really in a precarious situation.  Even the sleek Canberra is looking somewhat faded.

I have not shown images of the C160 Transall or the Ventura or Super Frelon that are parked on the apron. Neither have I shown images of the aircraft parked under cover.

Moving indoors to the display hangers I was delighted to find my missing Mustang!

As well as the restored Vampire.

I was also hoping to get better images of the Sabre while I was there, and was delighted to find her in a much better position than previously.

Another addition that I had not seen previously was an SAAF trainer, I am not sure whether this is a Pilatus or the local derivative.

I was also hoping to get a better image of the Fieseler Storch but it lived in relative darkness so this is the best I could do…
There are a lot of other aircraft to view at the museum, like the wonderful Sikorsky S-51 which is a real blast from the past,

And the Communist Bloc era Mikoyan MiG21 BIS which ran out of fuel while on a flight over Northern South West Africa in 1988. (Returned to Angola in 2017)


Our own South African Air Force aircraft also feature strongly, and one of my personal favourites is the Mirage IIIBZ in her original delivery colours.

And, the Westland Wasp in her Naval colour scheme, hankering back to the days of our 3 frigates.

Unfortunately though the museum does not have a complete Harvard on display,  that stalwart trainer did our country very proud, and the snarl of their engines overhead is only a memory. Like most museums though, this one lacks funds and dedicated people to keep it going.  We are very fortunate to have this small collection available, and it would be tragic if we were to loose it. It is well worth the time and effort to go through to Pretoria for a visit, because if you are an air force and aviation buff, these are the machines that you may soon only read about.
A postscript. At the time of writing this, the Air Force had just lost a Turbo-Dak with all her crew and passengers in bad weather over the Drakensberg. This is the second Dakota that has been lost recently, maybe its time the museum acquired one for the collection before they too become extinct.  
© DRW 2012-2018. Images recreated 26/03/2016
Updated: 26/12/2017 — 15:42

Visiting Vic’s Viking Garage

SAAF, South African Air ForceMany years ago there was a garage in Johannesburg that had a Vickers Viking on it’s roof. I kid you not, it was one heck of a landmark and everybody knew about it, but nobody could really tell you where it was! Somewhere near “Uncle Charlie’s” was the closest you could get to a reply. The fact remains though; the garage, situated in what is now Devland had this vintage Vickers Viking on it’s roof, and in 1987 that aircraft was removed and taken for “restoration” and replaced with a vintage Avro Shackleton.

I recall as a boy seeing the Viking but naturally no adults would stop the car and let you out so that you could go explore it, so it is just a vague memory.  In 2010 however I decided to go find this Shackleton and see whether it still existed, and what it looked like now, so many years after the fact.

Google Earth was duly consulted and the co-ordinates are:  26° 16.644’S  27° 56.683’E and you can actually see the aircraft on the satellite view.

However, finding the garage was a different ballgame so I asked the kind lady in the GPS to take me there. “Turn left” was all she said (as she always does). Eventually I spotted my target in the distance and “turned left”.

The aircraft has been in a number of liveries as far as I can see, from her original SAAF colours, right through to a red livery and of course the current one, and probably a few other permutations along the way.  

But what about the Viking? According to http://aircraftnut.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/of-shackletons-and-vikings.html:  She was “built at the Vickers-Armstrongs factory in Weybridge, England, c/n 121 first took to the air on 30 August 1946, registered as G-AHOT with British European Airways and was used in the 1948 Berlin Airlift. On 26 September 1954 she was sold to Trek Airways, registered ZS-DKH and operated in Protea Airways colours, a second airline of Trek, and for many years, transported hundreds of passengers on leisurely and scenic flights between South Africa and Europe. She even starred in the film, “Kimberly Jim” with the late Jim Reeves. After 13.881 flying hours she was disassembled and transported by road to Armadale south of Johannesburg, where, in January 1963 she was lifted on to the roof of the Vic de Villiers “Vic’s Viking Service Station” where she became a famous, if forlorn, landmark.” 

Now the name Weybridge rings a bell, because Weybridge is also home to Brooklands Museum which I visited in January 2015 and they too have a Vickers Viking under restoration.

This particular aircraft is G-AGRU and there is an interesting footnote to the information sheet situated at the aircraft.

I can neither confirm or deny what the state of ZS-DKH is, the website that used to have information about her is giving me a 403 error. I have heard rumours that she was due to be taken to Rand Airport, but I will believe that when it actually happens. (or has it happened?)

As for our lonely Shackleton, she is SAAF 1723 and has been grounded since 22 November 1977.

Sadly, this lonely bird will never fly again, and in at some point she will be either stolen, dismantled or stripped for scrap metal. 

However, if you do want to see a Shackleton in her original glory then take a trip up to Swartkops AFB where sister aircraft 1721 is kept.

Although often described as “a hundred thousand rivets flying in close formation” these aircraft kept watch over our seas, and today these two examples are just some of the few remnants of a unique aircraft that performed it’s job and has become an icon.

Vic De Villiers may have swapped out one old aircraft for another, but his foresight has kept this aircraft from becoming yet another image in a book or on a website. Hopefully one day that Viking will emerge too, and take her place in a museum.

Now if only I could find Uncle Charlies? Lady in the GPS where are you??

DRW. ©  2016-2020. Retrospectively created 06/06/2016

Updated: 15/02/2020 — 09:22
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