The SAA Museum Collectable Fair 31.05.2021

By Willie Bodenstein

The South African Airways Museum Society, based at the Transvaal Aviation Club at Rand Airport in Germiston, was founded in 1986 by individuals within the then South African Airways and interested outside parties with the aim of preserving the history of South African Airways as well as that of general civil aviation in South Africa. Members of the South African Airways Museum Society were instrumental in restoring the aircraft currently on display and have ever since been proactive in preserving the colourful history of South African Airways.

Some of the Museum's impressive line-up of aircraft and the immaculate legendary Triumph sport cars on display

The Museum, a registered non- profit organisation, operates solely on gate takings from visitors, donations and sponsorship. To help raise funds for the upkeep of its exhibits and premises it, on Saturday 29 May, hosted a Collectables Fair, as well as the Triumph Car Club that exhibited fifteen of its members pride and joy.

The first collectable fair was held in 2019 and was visited by 301 people. This year, 78 children and 492 adults walked through the gates. Twenty-nine exhibitors' tables were available and occupied by seventeen traders/exhibitors.

Visitors waiting patiently to be allowed in

When we arrived, the carpark was almost filled to capacity. To comply with Covid 19 regulations, all visitors were issued with a number to ensure that the allowed number of visitors were not exceeded. At one stage, people were standing in line awaiting their turn.

Karel Zaayman of the Aviation Shop proudly displaying one their extensive line up of aviation related products

More collectable fair traders in the hangar……….

……………and outside under the wings of one of the museum's exhibits

The Museum's large number of historic aircraft that includes two Boeing 747's alone is worth the visit. The museum is the only one in the world with two of Boeing's giants. Combined with the Triumph sport cars exhibits, the collectable fair housed in one the Museum's immaculate hangers boasted a number of food and refreshment stalls that made for a festive morning of browsing and meeting of friends.

Ralph Raman and his nine-year-old aviation obsessed son, Rhys

Lebombo with Meah and Rhys in the foreground during an open volunteer day. Photo supplied.

One youngster, seven-year-old Rhys Raman, proudly dressed in a Pilot's Uniform complete with four stripes caught everyone's attention. Rhys's father, Ralph was a SAA cabin crew member for 24 years. After he left in 2018, he began to volunteer at the museum and was soon joined by Rhys, who had by then seriously caught the aviation bug, as well as Meah, their eight-year-old daughter. Ralph's company, that distributes cleaning solutions and sanitiser, sponsored the clean-up of the Lebombo, the 747 on exhibit and had sanitisers onboard for passenger safety.

Michael Blackburn, who retired as a senior purser on 31 August 2020. Photo by kind permission of John Austen-Williams

Quite a few ex-SAA cabin crew members, organised by Margaret Boshoff who herself had spent many years aloft, had volunteered to assist on the day. So did all the support staff who, from the ticket sellers to the tyre polishers, all gave freely of their time. One of them was Michael Blackburn, who treated visitors inside Lebombo to tales of his years as a cabin crew member. Michael started his career with SAA in 1980 and retired as a senior purser on 31 August 2020.

Captain Karl Jensen inside the Platinum Gold Radio studio. Photos by kind permission of John Austin-Williams

Well known retired SAA Captain Karl Jensen regaled the visitors from the Platinum Gold Radio mobile studio with tales from his years as an SAA pilot and later as a pilot on the museum's Junkers 52 Tante Ju. The Junkers changed pre-World War Two South African aviation by providing safe, fast and comfortable air travel around the Union of South Africa and later into Africa. On Tante Ju's first commercial flight, VIP passengers would have paid the princely sum of just R1:00 per seat.

The Rolls Royce Griffon Mk57A V12 engine. Photo by kind permission of John Austin-Williams

Another great attraction was the start of the trailer mounted V12 Rolls Royce Griffon Mk57A 37-litre (2,240 cu in) capacity, 60-degree V-12, liquid-cooled aero engine, restored by Ian Reed. The first Griffon left the Rolls Royce factory in 1938 and 8,108 were built before production was ceased in 1955. It was the last in the line of V-12 aero engines to be produced by Rolls-Royce. Ian's Griffon is one of four that powered an Avro Shackleton that was delivered to the SAAF as 1717 in October 1957.

The members of the SAA Museum Society, all of whom are volunteers, have every reason to be immensely proud of their fine achievements in preserving the colourful history of South African civil aviation.

Please feel free to contact 076 879 5044 or Email for membership details and the activities of the Society.

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