If cultural, heritage or nostalgia tourism are niche sectors that your business focusses on, then the South African Airways Museum Society (SAAMS) is definitely worth including in itineraries. Here’s why. By Des Langkilde.
Conveniently positioned on a tract of land adjacent to Rand Airport’s runway 29 in Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa, the SAAMS displays an impressive collection of Static Display Aircraft.
Included in the display are two Boeing 747s, “Lebombo” which flew over Ellis Park at the 1995 Rugby World Cup and a rare Boeing 747SP named “Maluti”. There is also a B747 “Classic” Simulator and an Airbus A300 Simulator, both, sadly, no longer operational. “Lebombo” is open for viewing, just not the cockpit.
For interior access to any of the other static display aircraft, an application must be made via e-mail, stating the number of visitors. Ideally at least a week’s notice is required to give the SAAMS sufficient time to allocate a Tour Guide.
Three of the aircraft that the museum currently owns are serviceable; two Douglas DC-4 Skymasters and a Douglas DC-3 Dakota. These aircraft are all classic propeller-driven airliners that started their careers in the mid-1940s and still ply their trade carrying tourists to exotic destinations in Southern Africa.
The aircraft are leased to Skyclass Aviation who operate them on charter work, including film shoots and scenic flights around Johannesburg and environs. SkyClass holds a Part 121 certificate with both Domestic and International licences and has gained an enviable reputation and is well known and respected among local and overseas tour operators for their African air tour safari excursions.
Clients fly into the Johannesburg hub and from there make their way to various destinations using the SkyClass aircraft. The airliners can depart out of Rand Airport, Lanseria Airport or from OR Tambo International Airport. Popular destinations include National and Private game parks within and outside of South Africa, sporting weekends and holidays, corporate trips, flying safaris to such exotic places as the Victoria Falls, Chobe Game Lodge, the Islands off Mozambique and beyond up into Northern and Eastern Africa and Zanzibar.
The SAAMS display hall is located in the Transvaal Aviation Club (TAC) building situated on the eastern side of Rand Airport. Historic items such as photographs, aircraft models, crew uniforms, aircraft instruments, timetables and small artefacts of SAA and general civil aviation memorabilia are on display. Visitors are welcome to take photographs inside the display hall. There is also a series of SAA Museum aircraft posters (450x310mm) with history and technical specifications produced by The Aviation Shop with original artwork by Pierre Lowe Victor.
Ian Carrol Library
Over the years, the SAAMS has amassed a wonderful collection of aviation related books, technical manuals, historical documents, photographs, magazines and historic footage. The material in the library is available for research purposes.
The SAAMS Shop carries a wide range of aviation related items, that will appeal to both young and old. Items include: T-Shirts, Magazines, Books, Toys, Aircraft Models, Caps, Badges and DVDs.
There is a delightful restaurant inside the old Transvaal Aviation Club, TAC, building. A variety of scrumptious meals are available and there is a playground area for children. One of the Rand Airport taxiways passes directly in front of the complex and affords aircraft spotters and photographers a choice spot.
For collectors of scale model aircraft, both plastic snap-fit and die-cast, SAAMS have created a web page dedicated to models of SAA aircraft. Click here to view.
An impressive collection of historical photographs can be found on the SAAMS website. The images are free to share provided that the pictures are credited to individual photographers. Click here to view.
Address: Transvaal Aviation Club building, Dakota Crescent, Rand Airport, Germiston, Johannesburg.
GPS: -26.241799, 28.159343 or -26° 14’ 30.48”, +28° 9’ 33.63”
Open Hours: Tue to Sun 09h00 to 15h00 / Public Holidays: 09h00 to 15h00.Closed Mondays, 25 December and 1 January.
Entrance Fee: R35 (adults), R25 (children).
Tel: +27 (0) 76 879-5044