Category Archives: Posts

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Heritage Day 2011

A number of events were held at the Cape Town Museum on HeritageDay, 24th September 2011.

These events included Archery, and Tug-of-War competitions, followed by a ‘braai.’

To celebrate Johan Ackerman’s birthday he was presented with a model of a Grippen by the Youth Development Programme Team.

The winning team “The Fabulous Four” received a bow and arrow set as a prize.

[album: Day 2011/]

The Fallen

Image by Anton Crone

In the last Great War, South Africa committed 120,000 soldiers to the battlefields of North Africa & Europe.

11,900 soldiers did not return.

The Fallen is a 60-second war film by South African director Bauke Brouwer. Set during the Second World War, the production has been chosen as a finalist for Filminute’s sixth International One-Minute Film Festival.

The Capetonian is amongst 25 nominees vying for two awards including Best Filminute, where the winner is selected by a jury, and the People’s Choice award, which goes to the film voted by the public as the best.

The winners will be announced on 30 September.

You can view this film here


See another article on this production here.

In the last Great War, South Africa committed 120,000 soldiers to the battlefields of North Africa & Europe.

[album: Fallen/]

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Dave Henderson – Aircraft Enthusiast and Modeller

Christopher David Henderson known as Dave

16.8.1952 – 26.12.2010

Written by his wife, Alison Henderson

Dave was born in Omagh, Northern Ireland and moved to Nairobi, Kenya when he was two years old as his father had joined the Kenyan Police after leaving the army .

From a very young age, Dave was an airplane enthusiast.  At first he collected books such as the Observers Book of Aircraft and from there started building small model kits, collecting pictures and photographs of anything relating to aircraft.

Going through Dave’s collection of aircraft, I came across so many photographs of aircraft taken at Nairobi airport in the late 1950 and 1960’s – one of the first long distance aircraft with the BOAC logo.  This also reminded me of the stories he used to tell me of his travels between Kenya and the UK, initially with his parents and then later on his own during his school holidays from his school, The Duke of York.

One particular story was when the airplane he was on, bound for the UK, was turned back to Nairobi shortly after take-off as  Tom Mboya, a prominent Kenyan politician who was a contender for the presidency, had just been assassinated. Once the plane was on the ground, it was surrounded by armed militia, boarded and searched as it was thought that the perpetrator was on board.  He said this was quite a scary experience for a 15 year old.

Also amongst his collection, I found his membership for the BOAC children’s flight club and his little badge.  He also had a card signed by the pilot from one of his many flights, when he was invited to view the cockpit.

Such was Dave’s enthusiasm and passion for flight and aviation that his life’s ambition was to join the RAF and become a pilot.  As soon as he completed his schooling in Kenya, he returned to the UK and applied to the RAF.  He was invited for an interview and to complete the aptitude tests and assessments.  To say that he was over the moon was an under-statement! His life’s ambition was within his grasp!  Unfortunately, this story did not have a happy ending.  Despite passing all the aptitude tests and assessments, he failed the eye test as he was myopic in one eye.  This had a devastating effect upon him and, despite being offered a position as ground crew he turned it down as only training as a pilot would do!  This was a decision he was to regret all his life.

He trained instead as a Telecommunications Engineer, but still maintained his passion for aviation in any shape or form and started to steadily grow his collection.

In 1976 he moved to Johannesburg to work for AEI Henley and eventually purchased a house in Kempton Park – only 7 miles or so from Jan Smuts Airport (now Johannesburg International).  He spent many, many hours at the airport on the viewing deck photographing aircraft and taking note of any new airlines that flew into South Africa.

He regularly attended air shows at Waterkloof, Lanseria and even Margate, Natal.  He also continued to build his huge collection of aircraft photographs.  Looking through his albums, there are photographs dating back to the 1960’s from East Africa and through to the 1990’s from South Africa, and up to 2010 from various air bases in the UK. He was also a regular visitor to SAAF Museum in Ysterplaat every time he visited Cape Town.

In 1997, due to work reasons, Dave and his family moved back to the UK and settled in Shropshire – ironically very close to Shawbury RAF base and not too far from Cosford air base.

Dave was now totally in his element as he was within driving distance of some of the world famous air shows and he wasted no time at all in making sure that he attended these events.  For example, Cosford Airshow, The Royal International Tattoo at Fairford, Duxford Airshow, Farnborough, Boscombe Down and many more.  In his collection, I have found all the souvenir programmes still in pristine condition.

Not only did Dave come home with the souvenir programme – he returned with many signed prints, reference books and model kits.  The model kits donated to the museum are but a fraction of how many he actually bought and built.   It is a tragedy that he, unfortunately, died prematurely before he had the time to painstakingly and lovingly fulfil his passion for aircraft model building. He was a perfectionist when it came to his models and each and every part had to be perfectly prepared and assembled, airbrushed and the decals applied to complete the model.  He made a special nameplate for each model and it was carefully placed in a glass cabinet to display the model to its full potential.   So particular was he with his models that I was not allowed to dust them! I could admire them, but touch them – definitely not!!

The highlight of Dave’s collection was the Sea Harriers. Our eldest daughter joined the Royal Navy in 2000 and one of her deployments was at RNAS Yeovilton where she worked directly with the pilots of the Sea Harriers.  In her capacity she was not only able to obtain prints of the various Squadron’s, but able to get each print signed by the pilots of those squadrons. These framed prints take pride of place in his model room.  Yes –  he had an entire room dedicated solely to his hobby!  The walls are entirely covered in photographs, signed prints, and framed pictures.  There are two huge cabinets filled with all his books, magazines in binders, die-cast models of all the airplanes he has flown in on various holidays (Easyjet, Mytravelite, Ryanair, British Airways, etc.) and the models that he lovingly built.

Quite some time after Dave had passed away, I decided to open cupboard he built in the alcove of his hobby room and could not believe my eyes! The cupboard was filled from top to bottom with all the model kits he had bought but was yet to build!  A great majority of them are now very collectable as they are no longer in production.  Such was his passion for aviation, that he was unable to resist buying model kits, books and prints every time he visited an air show!

Dave did get the opportunity to fulfil his wish and fly an aeroplane.  His family bought him a flying experience package for his birthday a number of years ago.  For two hours he was the happiest person alive being allowed to pilot the plane with the instructor at his side. We were so happy for him that he had at last ‘got his wings’!

Dave would be very proud and extremely pleased to know that the models he put so much love, attention and passion into building are to be displayed at the SAAF Museum in the city that he loved so much.  If he had had the choice, he would no doubt have settled in Cape Town and made it his home.  He loved Cape Town so much, that his last wish was for his ashes to be scattered into Table Bay outside of his favourite restaurant, Quay 4.  His last wish was carried out in April, 2011 and it comforts us, his family, to know that he is where he has always wanted to be! He always said that he would love to live out his life near the sea.

Well Dave, we have made sure that you got your wish and also that your beautiful models will be admired by many fellow aviation enthusiasts.

A large portion of Dave Henderson’s model collection was donated to the SAAF Museum by his wife, Alison Henderson.


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12th Reunion of Pelican 16

The 12th reunion of the survivors of Pelican 16 took place at the Blue Peter Hotel in Blaauwberg Strand on the evening of 13 July 2006.
The Blue Peter Hotel has become a significant contributor to the SAAF Museum, and in this instance, the spread of Moroccan food, the decor in the dining room as well as the waiters who were all dressed in traditional dress made for an extremely enjoyable get together.
Sadly, not all of the members were able to attend, Chris Viviers is in hospital recovering from cancer and General Page was also unable to attend as was Blake Vorster. The Officer Commanding 35 Squadron, Lt Colonel Marcel Engelbrecht and his spouse represented the Base and the Squadron.
A moment was set aside to commemorate the lives of those crew who have since passed on to Higher Service.
The SAAF Museum and the crew of Pelican 16 thank the organisers and sponsors for their very generous contribution to the success of the evening.


Group photograph: Left to Right: Front: Gus Gusse, Buks Bronkhorst, Henry James Potgieter, John Balladon. Back:Bobby Whitfield - Jones, J.P. van Zyl, Peter Dagg, Horace Blok, Lionel Ashbury, Pine Pienaar.
Group photograph: Left to Right: Front: Gus Gusse, Buks Bronkhorst, Henry James Potgieter, John Balladon. Back:Bobby Whitfield – Jones, J.P. van Zyl, Peter Dagg, Horace Blok, Lionel Ashbury, Pine Pienaar.

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The Search for Puma 164 – A Book Launch


Invite you to a book launchwith authors Neill Jackson and Rick van Malsen in attendance to sign books
Venue: Dickie Fritz Shellhole, Dickie Fritz Avenue, Dowerglen, Edenvale
Date: Saturday, 27th August 2011
Time: 13:30
The Search for Puma 164
Operation Uric and the assault on Mapai
The battle for Mapai – and the final closure
September 6, 1979 a lone Puma helicopter flies northward, leaving behind the desolation of the battle for Mapai, in Mozambique’s Gaza Province. …and so it was, almost 30 years later, that Rick van Malsen returns to the scene of that horrendous battle, to search for the crash site of the downed Puma, in an effort to achieve closure for the relatives of the dead.
Neill Jackson was born in Malta in 1953, where his father was stationed with the Royal Marines and his mother the WRENs. The family moved to Rhodesia in 1956. In 1975 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant with 5 (Independent) Company based in Umtali, before serving three years as a Troop Commander with Support Commando, the Rhodesian Light Infantry. In 1978 he was posted as 2IC to 1 (Independent) Company at Victoria Falls and Beitbridge, and then to 1 Brigade HQ in Bulawayo as Intelligence Officer from December 1979 until his retirement a year later, with the rank of captain.
Rick van Malsen was born in Kenya in 1954, immigrated to Rhodesia in 1960 and joined the Rhodesian Light Infantry in 1974, being commissioned the following year. In 1978, as a Troop Commander in 1 Commando, 1RLI, Rick was awarded the Bronze Cross of Rhodesia for valour during combat. At the cessation of hostilities in 1980 he was appointed Battalion Adjutant and attended a staff course at the Staff College at Camberley in the UK. He set up the Army Diving School at Kariba, at the time the most modern facility of its type in southern Africa, before retiring from service in 1984.

Warrant Officer Mykes James Patric Boyd



13.12.1938 – 10.08.2011


Pat was born in Brakpan South Africa and was educated at Nottingham Road Boarding School in the Midlands of Natal, some 65Km west of Pietermaritsburg.

Joining the South African Air Force in 1955, he underwent Basic Training at the newly created Air Force Gymnasium and qualified as an aircraft fitter at 68 Air School at the end of 1959.

In 1963 Pat married Joan Dawson, a union that lasted for the next 48 years until his passing to higher service. He had two sons, Myles and Steven and a daughter Allison.

By the time Pat retired in 1987, he had 32 years of service and had attained the rank of Warrant Officer II. During this time he had served with various Squadrons and Units, including, 12 Squadron, 7 Squadron and 35 Squadron. Aircraft types worked on included the Harvard, Impala, Canberra and the Shackleton.

He went on to join the SA Air Force Reserve, serving as an aircraft fitter on Shackleton 1722 up until the end of 2010 when ill health prevented him from assisting with the remaining crew on the aircraft.

Pat saw service at the front in the War of 1966 – 1989 with 12 Squadron on Canberra’s. He was awarded the Pro Patria medal, 10, 20 and 30 year Good Service Medals. He was also a keen member of the MOTH Order and was a member of the Tommy Rendle VC Shell Hole in Brooklyn Cape Town.

As a member of the SAAF Museum in his Reserve Force role, Patrick’s contribution to the technical division of the SAAF Museum has to be considered irreplaceable.

AFB Ysterplaat – 70 Years of Aviation Excellence – Part One: Introduction



Introduction to flight in South Africa

The dream of flight was long given hopeful expression in the mythology of the ancient civilisations and indeed the great Leonardo de Vinci also saw the possibility of flight and drew it on paper centuries before it became reality. And when flight did indeed become reality it is not precisely known who was the first man to take to the skies from Ysterplaat.

There is a strong belief that, in the early 1870’s John Goodman Household and his brother Gordon built a glider and launched it and from the top of a 300 metre precipice on the farm Der Magtenburg, in the Karkloof area of KwaZuluNatal. The first flight was just over 1 kilometre and a height of 50 to 80 meters was achieved. During the second flight the craft soared for a while before beginning a rapid descent in which it clipped a tree and crashed, breaking his leg in the process.


John Goodman Household

It was the first ever recorded heavier-than-air flight and Goodman and his brother could have been accorded a place in history had it not been for their mother. When she heard of the crash she persuaded them to abandon the project out of fear that the family would incur the wrath of God for challenging their natural state of being earthbound. It is believed that the glider was stored in a barn and eventually burned with other rubbish.

All drawings, sketches and calculations were supposedly burned at John Household’s insistence so that he could abide by his promise to his mother never to discuss or attempt flying again. The Goodman Household Monument has been erected near Curry’s Post, in the KwaZuluNatal midlands to commemorate his achievement. There is then no evidence of any drawings or designs surviving Household who died in 1906. And what is more remarkable is that this had been achieved nearly ten years before the balloon flight of Major Elsdale in 1885.


Otto Lillienthal

This allowed the German Otto Lillienthal to take the honour when he made a successful glider flight in 1896. Eight years later, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first powered flight at Kittyhawk in the United States. It was the dawning of a new era; an age of adventure, excitement and glamour that gripped the world, and indeed the then Union of South Africa.

This first properly recorded flight in South Africa took place on the border of South Africa and this is what is known of that very significant event. Major Elsdale of the Grenadier Guards with 8 NCO’s and men arrived aboard the Pembroke Castle in March 1885 with 7 tons of hydrogen balloons and associated equipment.  The detachment transported the equipment up to Mafeking where Elsdale first flew on the 9th April 1885. The balloons were used for aerial reconnaissance and artillery spotting for the Bechuanaland Field Force.


60 000 Cubic feet Montgolfier Balloon

The first balloon flight in Cape Town was by Mr Stanley Spencer who after several attempts to get off the ground in his 60 000 cubic foot Montgolfier balloon finally succeeded on Saturday 6th February 1892. This was the first time that Capetonians could see that a man could get off the ground without having to climb a tree or fling himself off Table Mountain.

The first official heavier than air flight in the Southern Cape was undertaken by Ralph Mansel in a Voisin glider from Somerset West in the October of 1908.

Albert Kimmerling was the first man to achieve powered flight on the afternoon of the 28th of December 1909 over the racecourse at East London. He attained a height of 6 meters and newspaper reports of the day make for interesting reading.

In the early December of 1911 Dr Weston and “Bok” Driver took to the Cape Town sky in a Farman and a Bleriot and therefore they were the first to fly over the city in a heavier than air machine. From where they took off and landed is as yet unclear.

As aviation progressed, early flights began and ended depending on the mission, the weather, and the mechanical state of the aircraft and the whims of the pilot. There were many quite suitable landing grounds in and around the Cape. However in these early days of flight in South Africa, a hesitant public stood firmly on the ground and watched until aviation had proven itself and won its wings. It was also a time of crushed hopes, dreams and aircraft. Conversely it was also a period of spirited decisions by intrepid men and women whose vision took them to the clouds and their place in history.


Obituary – WO2 Kevin Furness

Kev Furness

1951 – 2011

Kevin was born on 05 November 1951, 11 months after his brother Alan at Shabani in Rhodesia, who both eventually lived in Salisbury. After they left high school Kevin went first of all into the British South Africa Police in Harare and then into the Rhodesian Air Force in the permanent force. During his time in the Rhodesian AF, Kevin worked on Vampires and Dakotas at AFB New Sarum.

At the end of or towards the end of the war he moved from what is now Zimbabwe to South Africa and joined the SAAF at AFB SWKP on Dakotas with 44 Sqn as a Flight Engineer on Dakotas and then transferred to 25 Squadron at AFB Ysterplaat.

During his service with the SAAF from 1981 – 2009, Kevin saw service on the Front in the Bush war and eventually finished his service at 35 Squadron and the SAAF Museum.

He married Teresa in 1986. He had 2 children, Peter and Carol.

Kevin had a keen interest in veteran affairs and was an Old Bill at Tommy Rendle VC Shellhole. He was also very active with the ORAFS.

He was project leader on the Dakota 6832 Restoration Project, sadly he never lived to see her fly again.

Memorial to World War 2 SAAF airmen unveiled in Sofia

David Haggie – Image by Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Article reprinted with kind permission – The Author Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Seven South African Air Force fliers who died in June 1944 after being shot down during a bombing mission, and who are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves section of Sofia Cemetery, now have a plaque commemorating them at the South African embassy.

The plaque was unveiled at a June 22 2011 ceremony presided over by ambassador Sheila Camerer, with a dedication ceremony conducted by Anglican chaplain Reverend Patrick Irwin and, in attendance, David Haggie, a nephew of one of the SAAF men and who paid for the placing of the memorial.

The airmen, in two Liberators, were shot down by the Luftwaffe and the aircraft crashed on Bulgarian soil.

Those who died were Major JA Mouton, Lieutenant HH Bunce, Lt DJS Haggie, Lt D Lindley, Lt RG Southey and Warrant Officers class 2 WS Barrett and DT Flynn.

Speaking at the ceremony – where guests included ambassadors and senior diplomats from Allied embassies and representatives of Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry – David Haggie said that for years it had not been easy to get information about the circumstances that led to the fallen air crew being buried in Sofia Cemetery.

For more on this story, and further information, click this link