Zwartkop Museum Open Day August 2017
By Russell Dixon-Paver
SAAF Museum Zwartkop held its monthly Flying Training Day on Saturday 5 August. Flying Training Days are normally held on the first Saturday of most months and the purpose is to keep pilots of the Museum flying aircraft current and to "exercise" the operational Museum aircraft.
The days started with no wind and good visibility, but by mid-morning a strong Westerly crosswind had developed and some of the fixed wing aircraft started using the grass runway in the late morning.
The Windsock coffee shop, which operates continuously in support of the Base and Museum, was also entertaining a good group of visitors and providing a great venue for vintage aviation enthusiasts to gather and share their passion for aviation.
The Museum hangars were open for visitors but the Display Hall is still closed, while the layout is upgraded and the exhibits are being refurbished.
The Museum Technical staff has an admirable serviceability record, especially considering their small staff complement, wide range of aircraft types and budgetary constraints. On the day the following aircraft conducted various training sorties:
Alouette III #624 returns from a sortie to honour retired Gen Thackwray, his wife and granddaughter under command of Gen Piet Burger.
General Thackwray makes some finer points about helicopter flying to his family with General Burger looking on - who says it is only fighter pilots who talk with their hands?
Alouette III #624 returns to its parking spot on the apron with Col Billy Port in command.
Museum Aloette II "draadkar" #22air-taxis to parking after its sortie in a strong cross-wind with the Air Force Memorial on Bayes Hill as backdrop.
Museum Puma #175 winds up with General John Church in command while the dedicated Museum technical staff watch carefully. The Patchen Explorer taxis out in the background, with a Harvard adding wings to the Puma from behind!
Harvard's #7306 and #7024 from the Harvard Club of SA get airborne in a formation take-off on another "smile generation mission". The Club's Harvards were fitted into the Museum flying program by the expert SAAF Air Traffic Controllers.
Col Jeff Earle gets airborne in Harvard #7231 for training.
Col Martin Louw "cleans up" after take-off in Museum Harvard #7675 "Siyandiza" before some aerobatics practice training overhead the airfield - smooth flying with excellent energy management.
Museum Harvard #7111 "Nelson" flies past with undercarriage extended in preparation for landing under the expert command of Col Darryl Wright.
Col Kim Pratley does a flypast with the Museum Patchen Explorer.
Col Abrie Stoman flies past during his "check ride" training sortie with Col Steve Odendaal.
This Kudu under command of Gen Des Barker opened the day by uplifting the parachutists, who insist on leaving a perfectly serviceable aircraft because the door is open!
Colonel Steve Odendaal taxis off from dispersal to put the Bosbok through its paces, with a Harvard doing power checks in the pre-threshold area.
Museum C185 #718 flies past in the able hands of Maj Adrian Tomaz.
There was a great turnout of interested enthusiasts this month, with representation from the SAAF Museum Photographic Club (SAAFMPC), the SA Guild of Military and Maritime Artists (SAGAMMA), Zwartkop Scale Modellers and the Friends of the Museum providing boerewors rolls and doing guiding duties, with the Spitfire Restoration Project generating awareness and selling memorabilia to generate interest and help fund the project. The Pretoria Photographers group was also present to exercise their aviation photography. The Buccaneer Restoration team held a work day and the Harvard Club of SA conducted three sorties.
Moves are afoot to bring younger SAAF pilots into the Museum fleet to supplement the "old guard" and learn from them. At this stage the newer pilots are only taken on familiarisation flights, while the necessary formal approvals are put into place for formalised training.
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