Cessna 150 for the SAAF MuseumDate: 12 March 2007
In a constant endeavour to display a balanced history, which would represent the full facet of its rich aviation heritage, the SAAF Museum recently obtained a CESSNA 150 for static display purposes.
Many would frown upon this latest arrival, it not being of truly military class, but this type of aircraft represents a unique part of African aviation history.
In 1976 a decision was taken by the Azanian People Liberation Army (APLA) High Command, Central Committee and the Military Commission to train Aviators. A group of 22 cadres were identified and sent to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre at Zaria in Nigeria, where 14 Pilots, 4 Aircraft Electronic- and 4 Aircraft Engineers were trained.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre or the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology as it is dubbed these days, was a well-establised training center which saw the light at an International Forum, the 12th International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly, held in San Diego, California, USA, in 1959. The Federal Government of Nigeria then formally requested the United Nations Development Program to appoint an expert to assess the actual requirements for the setting up of a Civil Aviation Training Center in Nigeria.
The Center was established in 1964 as a joint program between the Federal Government of Nigeria, the United Nations Development Programme, and the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The joint programme of assistance from the UNDP and ICAO came to an end in 1974 and the Federal Government of Nigeria assumed full responsibility for the continued management and operation of the College.
Class of 77
Members of the "class of 77" continued to serve with Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) and the Azanian People Liberation Army (APLA), both in the military- and civilian aviation sector. After 1994 many went on to serve in the South African National Defence Force. No less than five of the "class of 77" that graduated from Zaria, served on the South African Air Force Board, attaining the rank of Major General.
The CESSNA 150 aircraft were utilized by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre at Zaria.
It was on this type of aircraft that the fourteen pilots of this group received their initial flying training.
MK / APLA Display
The need for more sizeable artifacts, especially representative aircraft types to enhance the SAAF Museum's display was recognized during the last few years.
A disposed of Cessna 152, very similar in appearance to the Cessna 150; was identified and obtained for the museum during March 2006.
This particular aircraft was operated by the Aero-Club De Libreville in Gabon, before it found its way to South Africa. The aircraft was initially identified for a possible rebuilt, but found in too bad a condition and eventually relegated to a dusty corner of a hangar at Wonderboom Airport.
The technical team of the SAAF Museum assessed the condition of the Cessna as suitable for static display purposes and no time was wasted to collect the aircraft at Wonderboom. She was delivered to the museum at Swartkop by road on Monday 12 March 2007. The Cessna will now be refurbished and re-painted to represent one of the Nigerian aircraft in which the "Class of 1977" was trained.
Identity of Nigerian C150's
The aircraft in the 1977 group photo is one of two French manufactured Reims / Cessna FRA.150M's utilized at NCATC. Their Nigerian registration numbers were 5N-AZU (0313) and 5N-AZV (0314) and they were delivered to NCATC in November 1976. The FRA.150M was a unique mark and the designation refers to the French Reims (F) manufacturer, Rolls Royce Continental powered (R), Aerobat (A) version of the 150! Only a limited amount of these were manufactured.
Identity of the Gabon 152
The aircraft that was acquired by the Museum to represent the Nigerian C150, was operated by the Aero-Club De Libreville in Gabon. It previously carried the Gabonese registration number TR-LZM. This aircraft was also from the French manufacturer Reims / Cessna, serial number FA1520371 and designated F.152. LZM was transferred to the SAAF Museum on 12 March 2007 from Wonderboom Airport.
Article submitted by Captain Leon Steyn, SAAF Museum, Research Officer.