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)
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 2012-2021. Images recreated 26/03/2016