SAAF Museum hosts cancer awareness fundraiser


The South African Air Force Museum has successfully hosted its 100 Hours for Charity social responsibility event, which raised funds for Pink Drive, a cancer awareness organisation. Volunteers spent 100 hours sitting in the cockpits of fighter jets and living inside the Museum’s Shackleton maritime patrol aircraft.

The 100 Hours drive began at Air Force Base Swartkop on February 26 at 8:00 when four ‘pilots’ climbed into the cockpits of Mirage fighters and three ladies began living in the Shackleton. The 100 hours ended on Saturday at 12:00 with a display by the Gabriel Pitts Special aerobatic team and a pyrotechnic display.

Saturday was also the Museum’s monthly flying training day, but featured extra aircraft and events for the charity drive, such as a paintball battle, in addition to the usual lineup of flying aircraft, such as the Bosbok, Kudu, Puma, Alouette II and III, Harvards and more.

All funds raised during the four days of the drive go to Pink Drive to help acquire a new clinical examination vehicle. The project has two vehicles that travel around the Tshwane area, an education unit that works in more than 100 health centres in the region and a mammography unit that operates at three community hospitals.

In addition to the 100 Hours static pilots, an aircraft was available for celebrities and well known personalities to ‘fly’ in for an hour, including such big names as Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Johan Stemmet. Chief of the Air Force Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang and former Chief Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano also spent an hour in one of the jets. Lieutenant Colonel Mike O’Connor, Officer Commanding the SAAF Museum, said it showed the defence forces cared. He added that everything went very smoothly and he was amazed by the support the Museum received for the event, especially from the sponsors.

During the four days of the drive, various competitions were run, with several major prizes given on Saturday morning. Prizes included things like Samsung tablets, tandem skydives and flights in historic aircraft.

As part of the drive, people could buy movie tickets and watch films in the DC-4. This aircraft had been hidden away behind a hangar due to its poor condition but volunteers from the University of Pretoria spent a week and a half cleaning and polishing it, bringing back its natural colour. The aircraft will now be on permanent display. The aircraft’s fabric covered tail surfaces were torn and ragged, but the Museum has discovered new fabric that will be used to re-cover the control surfaces. O’Connor said the students want to clean an aircraft per week.

The SAAF Museum is currently gearing up for the air show on May 11. One of the things that has been tested is a video screen that will display live footage – on Saturday it was used to display a live feed from the flying aircraft and Golden Eagles skydivers.