SAAF Museum boss full of new marketing plans for 2012Date: 1 February 2012
The new man in charge of South Africa's military aviation history knows full well how difficult his task is, especially with "austerity" the current buzzword, rather than force preparedness.
The SA Air Force Museum, headquartered at AFB Swartkop in Centurion, with branches at AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town and at AFB Port Elizabeth, has long been fighting the budgetary battle and "we will no doubt continue to do so", said Lt-Col Mike O'Connor. He has just taken over as officer commanding from Lt-Col Willie Nel, who was moved to SAAF headquarters and now looks after air servicing units.
"Partnerships have long been an integral part of museum operations, whether they are with the business or commercial sector, and the three Friends of the Air Force Museum associations. I will be building on the strength of existing partnerships and looking for new ones to improve the proud record of our military aviation history," he said.
The 25-year SAAF veteran will build on the start made to marketing the Swartkop museum as a venue for events, ranging from product launches and team building exercises to weddings and children's birthday parties.
"While each on its own might not be a major money spinner, added together the total is not to be sneezed at."
He says the base, where there is only one SAAF squadron still operational, has at times hosted up to four children's birthday functions on a single day.
"Give them an aircraft to use as shade and a home base for a few hours and you have no idea how much the youngsters enjoy it. Bicycles whizzing up and down the flight line, kids marvelling at aircraft like vintage Mirage fighters, Buccaneer fighter bombers, Canberra bombers, Super Frelon and Puma helicopters as well as C-160 transport aircraft, among others, all make for a day with a difference," O'Connor said.
He is confident the museum will shortly add at least another three airworthy vintage aircraft to its inventory. These are a Tiger Moth, a Chipmunk and a Patchen Explorer. Also on his short-term to-do list is the acquisition of a C-47 twin-engined transport from nearby Snake Valley and a clean-up and paint job of the venerable Shackleton.
As always, the museum's major event of the year is its annual airshow. Scheduled for May 12, O'Connor is confident it will draw even more visitors than last year's estimated 75000.
"I'm sure the 2012 Museum airshow will be a hit and ensure sufficient income for us to keep on caring for the vintage aircraft that are part and parcel of our history."
Source: The New Age