December Shackleton engine run canned, but not by Air Force headquarters


An important component of South African and specifically Cape Town’s military aviation history will be denied to enthusiasts this month but it has nothing to do with instructions from Air Force headquarters.

The monthly start-up of engines on the Shackleton at the AFB Ysterplaat branch of the SA Air Force (SAAF) Museum has had to be put on hold due to personnel and technical problems.

Chris Teale, museum curator at the base, said the engine run was dependent on a few criteria.
“One is crew availability and with two essential members unfortunately out of the loop this affects the run. The second is fuel and with us critically short at present if any air gets into the system it will be more than a ‘bit’ of work to get fuel pumps and other components in the fuel feed system back on line.
“The number four engine has begun to run a bit warm and I am busy sourcing glycol with the correct milspec as we do not have enough to get the radiator up to the proper mix,” he said.

The engine run is usually on the first Saturday of the month and draws many military aviation buffs keen on seeing flame belching from exhausts and hearing the distinctive sound of the Shackleton’s contra-rotating props.

The cancellation of the December start-up comes hard on the heels on Ysterplaat being told by SAAF Command there was no way the Wings and Wheels show, scheduled for the coming weekend, could take place. Security and operational considerations were cited as being the reasons for the late cancellation of the event which was expected to attract more than 60 000 visitors.

The Ysterplaat Shackleton is one of only two of type, neither airworthy, still in South Africa. The other is on display at the SAAF Museum headquarters at AFB Zwartkop.

Both were part of South Africa’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance capability until they were replaced by Dakotas converted to the maritime role in November 1984. These aircraft were replaced by the Turbo Dakotas in 1991, which still continue maritime patrol duties.