One of the most popular events on the national aviation calendar – the SA Air Force (SAAF) Museum airshow – will this year take place on May 10.
With an airshow date confirmed, Museum staff will be going all out to complete restoration of the De Havilland Chipmunk to hopefully have it airworthy by the second Saturday in May.
Their efforts on the Museum’s Chipmunk were given a boost when a pair of privately owned Chipmunks made a guest appearance at the February flying training day. One of them is owned by SAAF Reserve Force squadron commander Kim Pratley and the other belongs to Gavin Brown.
Museum Officer Commanding Lieutenant Colonel Mike O’Connor told the Unofficial SAAF website the airshow, as always, is the Museum’s major fundraising event of the year.
Income from the airshow will play a major part in providing cover for the Boeing 707, C-160 Transall and DC-4 Skymaster.
“It’s going to cost in the region of R2.5 million but has to be done in terms of heritage asset management. We have to maintain the aircraft in the condition they came to the Museum. Having them parked in the sun, some for around 20 years, that’s not maintaining our heritage,” he said.
The Museum’s handful of full-time staff, supported by a complement of SAAF Reserves and the Friends of the Museum, will not only be concentrating on getting to Chipmunk airworthy. Another aircraft that will see many hours of sweat equity before May 10 is the Museum’s Tiger Moth, but Museum Admin Ops Officer Lieutenant Colonel Clive Shepherd would not be drawn on whether the biplane would be airworthy in time for the airshow.
With South Africa this year marking 20 years of democracy O’Connor and his staff will also be working to complete the heritage exhibits of the MK and Apla liberation movements. They and those of the former Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei homelands are housed in Hangar 4.
Around 30 000 people attended the Musuem’s airshow last year, which featured a wide lineup of modern, classic and vintage aircraft, from airliners flying by to Vampire jets.