SAAF Museum gains to new jetsDate: 29 September 2011
The fleet of military jets at the SA Air Force Museum at AFB Swartkop in Centurion has grown to 20 with the addition of a Mirage F1CZ and a Cheetah D.
The new arrivals were moved by road from nearby AFB Waterkloof and join an impressive array of jet fighters and bombers at the home of the country's military aviation heritage.
They join three Vampires, the first jets ever in service with the world's second oldest air force, a pair of Sabres, four Impalas, assorted Mirage models ranging from the CZ through to the F1 and F1CZ, a pair of Buccaneers and two Canberras.
Financial constraints mean Museum Officer Commanding Lieutenant Colonel Willie Nel and his team have continuously to seek outside funding in their efforts to make aircraft display worthy and hopefully, airworthy. This is done primarily through flying days, an annual airshow and sponsorships in addition to the income generated by the museum's various facilities, including its run- and taxiways for particularly radio-controlled aircraft gatherings.
The new additions to the museum inventory will for the next few months be on the receiving end of many hours of work from museum personnel and members of the Friends of the SAAF Museum Association to make them presentable for public viewing.
The chances of making either of the new arrivals airworthy are slim but an ever-optimistic Nel points out "no-one ever thought we would get our Spitfire to display or even airworthy status again".
This WW11 legend was badly damaged when it crashed into the southern perimeter wall of Swartkop during a Museum airshow some years ago. Since then it has been kept under wraps as museum management worked on ways and means to bring it back. A consortium to provide funding as well as a number of sponsorship options will give access to the estimated R13m needed to bring the Spitfire back to display status.
"As a national treasure our Spitfire deserves nothing less," he said.
And it could even take to the air again sometime in the future as there is an engine for it in one of the hangars and no shortage of hands and backs prepared to put in the sweat equity needed.
Source: The New Age