Shackleton ground runs at AFB Ysterplaat


Saturday, October 28, saw yet another successful ground run of the last SA Air Force (SAAF) Shackleton at the AFB Ysterplaat SAAF museum.

The aircraft (tail number 1722), is the only survivor of what was the air force’s maritime patrol capability along with the Piaggo Albatross, also retired from service. This tasking is today entrusted to the venerable C-47TPs flown out of the Cape Town air base by 35 Squadron.

The Shackleton at Ysterplaat will not fly again, even though some people in the know maintain there are at least 100 flying hours left in her. She won’t get airborne because those hours will go to training aircrews is the general consensus of opinion.

A military aviation enthusiast put it this way: “About a thousand reasons why so won’t fly again including no maintenance protocol or manuals to be adhered to because of lack of spares; no maintenance personnel; no money; corrosion would by now make the airframe irrecoverable; engines that would be impossible to maintain; hydraulics that won’t ever function again – they were troublesome enough 55 years ago and flight crew of course, not the least of the problems”.

Ysterplaat Museum OC, Major Jayden King, said the ground runs have been happening on a monthly basis – except for December – since 2006.

The start-up events, usually on the last Saturday of the month, have attracted crowds of well over 500 people and there have also been night events. When started in the dark the full effect of flames from the Griffon engines is, according to another military aviation enthusiast, “something not easily forgotten”.

Picture: Dean Wingrin