South Africa has a proud military aviation history and the efforts of both the country’s aviation community and the SA Air Force (SAAF) work to ensure this history is retained not only to remember, but also to learn from.
One such initiative saw a Mirage F1 CZ (tail number 207) moved to Stellenbosch Flying Club (SFC). It will be on permanent display at the Western Cape aviation venue as a fitting reminder of what these French-made jet fighters – in the able hands of skilled South African pilots – achieved.
One of those involved in the project to bring the Bush War-era fighter from its previous “site”, in a laboratory at the University of Stellenbosch’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, is SFC member Stuart Burgess.
He writes: “After 18 months planning, Mirage F1 CZ 207 arrived at her new home at the Stellenbosch Flying Club. After 20 years in a laboratory at the University of Stellenbosch’s Department of Mechanical Engineering it was decided it was time to move on and she was offered to the club.
“This generous offer got the guys excited and after much planning with fantastic assistance from the Paramount Group, she was finally offloaded after a drive-by in front of a welcoming crowd at the clubhouse.”
The assistance offered by the Paramount Group meant the aircraft did not have to be “cut up” in any way before being moved. The aircraft was disassembled as and where necessary for transport and then re-assembled on arrival at Stellenbosch. Burgess explains: “The job would have been impossible without Paramount’s help. The four main wing bolts cannot be extracted without a special hydraulic bolt puller and the wings had to come off. There are a host of other tools including wing stands for pulling them from the fuselage, lifting frame for the fuselage and slings to lift the fin. In short, impossible to do and damage would have been inevitable if we had tried”.
There are no plans to make the fighter airworthy as it would cost “just too much”. Additionally, the Mirage is currently without a power plant and finding – and paying – for it is not possible.
Published with thanks and appreciation to Stuart Burgess, Stellenbosch Flying Club and Avcom.