The SA Air Force (SAAF) Museum as the guardian of South Africa’s military aviation history is aware of the sorry state of both gate guards at Port Elizabeth Airport, now renamed Dawid Stuurman International.
The Albatross maritime reconnaissance aircraft is currently not on its plinth following a clean-up and new paint job three years ago. Similarly, the Impala which also kept watch at the entrance to the Eastern Cape airport is also “grounded”.
Major Ntokozo Ntshangase, acting OC of the SAAF Museum, told defenceWeb “the status of the gate guards at Port Elizabeth Airport has been noted”.
“The maintenance and safekeeping of gate guards remains the responsibility of the museum. As such, the museum is working with other stakeholders to have these historic displays restored,” he said replying to a defenceWeb inquiry.
He did not elaborate but it appears both aircraft are going to the SAAF Museum branch at the airport.
The deployment of gate guards in the form of aircraft no longer in service is a time-honoured tradition in air forces around the world with the now 101 years old SAAF no different.
Ex-SAAF aircraft airframes on display around the country published on the Unofficial SAAF website include Impala, in the Mark I and II types, as the most utilised gate guard with 15 on plinths around the country.
Other aircraft on static display, not at the SAAF Museum at AFB Swartkop or its satellite branches in Cape Town (AFB Ysterplaat) and Port Elizabeth, include Bosbok, Buccaneer, Cheetah E, Puma, Mirage (IIICZ and F1CZ), Vampire, Canberra, Ventura, Super Felon, Harvard and a Westland Wasp at the SA Navy Museum in Simon’s Town.