Open for business, the SAA Museum at Rand Airport

By Willie Bodenstein


The team of enthusiasts who have made miracles happen with the Museum aircraft exhibits. Front row from left to right: Helpers Daniele Kazka and Ofeni Mbeta. Behind him Society volunteers Mike van Breda, Mike Paterson, Ray Hudson, Ashley Boekhoven, Barry Neuwerth, behind him is JŲrg-Dieter Zmich with glasses, Matt Harvey with glasses, Digby Sherwood with white coat and Barry Els.

Closed since the Covid 19 lockdown, the SAA Museum / Aviation Museum based at the ex-Transvaal Aviation Club complex in Dakota Crescent at Rand Airport in Germiston, has re-opened to visitors. However, all Covid regulations will still apply. Visitors must wear masks and no groups of more than 50 people are currently allowed and social distancing must be observed by everyone.

The Flying Springbok emblem saved by the Museum when it was removed from O.R. Tambo International, with the display hall in the background.

A handy site map to the exhibits in the aircraft park.

The museum is run and operated by volunteers of the South African Airways Museum Society that was founded in 1986 by individuals within South African Airways and interested outside parties. The aim of the society, then, was and still is, to preserve the history of South African Airways as well as that of general civil aviation in South Africa. Another aim is to create an awareness of the greatness of South African aviation and the role it has played in society.

A small auditorium with the museum shop on the left.

As a Non-Profit Company (NPC) Registration number 2007/005176/08, the Society is also registered as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO), PBO Registration number 930025667 as well as registered with the South African Museums Association (SAMA) Gauteng North Branch.

Heavy metal in the aircraft park.

The management of Rand Airport have generously donated a tract of land adjacent to 'short finals' of runway 29 for the SAA Museum Society to use and to display its collection of Static Display Aircraft.

The Aztec being dwarfed by Lebombo, one of the museum's two 747s.

Static display aircraft are used to their fullest extent for aviation awareness programmes as well as for fund raising for the
Society. Much needed funds for the Society's preservation efforts are generated from the utilisation of Lebombo and the other static display aircraft. The aircraft are available for small corporate related functions such as board meetings and conferences, product launches, award ceremonies and even weddings.

Boeing 747 ZS-SAN Lebombo that is open for viewing.

Boeing 747SP-44 Maluti

Boeing 737-219 ADV

The forward section of the 707 and the Airbus and Boeing simulators in the background.

The two main attractions are without a doubt the two Boeing 747s, ZS-SAN, 'Lebombo', that is open for viewing. The cockpit is closed, however, as the aircraft is considered "live". The other big jet is a Boeing 747SP-44 ZS-SPC 'Maluti'. A third Boeing, the much smaller 737-219 ADV completes the museum's current stable of passenger jets. Of all the 707's operated by SAA, the museum unfortunately could only lay its hands on the forward fuselage section of the 707, ZS-SAI "East London" that is also on display.

The Lockheed L18-08 Lodestar

The de Havilland DH 104 Dove

The Douglas DC4, ZS-AUB

The Douglas C-54D-15-DC

The Lockheed L1649A Starliner

The Vickers VC1A, Viking is under restoration

The Piper PA -23-250 Aztec

and the Pietenpol Aircamper

Other aircraft on display are a Lockheed L18-08 Lodestar, a De Havilland DH 104 Dove, a Douglas C-54D-15-DC, a Douglas DC4, a Lockheed L1649A Starliner and a Vickers VC1A that is currently under restoration. Two civilian aircraft, a Piper PA -23-250 Aztec and a partially restored Pietenpol Aircamper have been added to the museum's collection of general civil aviation aircraft.

Also displayed in the aircraft sections are a number of radial and jet engines, as well as a number of simulators, including an Airbus A300 B2K and a Boeing 747 "Classic" sim. The simulator and radio hut, also the park, is also well worth a visit.

Historic items such as photographs, aircraft instruments, timetables and other important documentation are on display in the Society's display hall. The display hall is open to the public and the Society regularly participates in open days to encourage particularly the younger generation of South Africans to take an interest in aviation as a potential career.

The exhibits in the museum display hall

A section of the display is reserved in memory of the those who lost their lives in the Helderberg disaster.

Over the years, the SAAMS has amassed a wonderful collection of aviation related books, technical manuals, historical documents, photographs, magazines and historic footage, etc., which are now housed in the Ian Carrol Library. The material in the library is available for research purposes. It may not however be removed from the library. Besides the library, the museum also operates a shop that carries a wide range of aviation related items that will appeal to both young and old. Items include: T-Shirts, magazines, books, toys, aircraft models, caps, badges and DVDs.

The museum's facilities are all immaculately maintained with resting areas amongst the aircraft.

The members of the SAA Museum Society, all of whom are volunteers, have every reason to be immensely proud of their fine achievements in preserving the colourful history of South African civil aviation.

Entrance Fees
Adults R40 each, walking children R25 each

The Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 09h00 to 15h30.
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