Dakota 75 Anniversary
The maiden flight of the Douglas DC-3 took place on 17th December 1935.
In 2010 her 75th anniversary was celebrated all over the globe and locally a special function was hosted by Capt. Flippie Vermeulen at Rand Airport.
Flippie Vermeulen, veteran SAA pilot for 41 years with over 23,500 hours under his belt, of which approximately 3,000 hours are on propliners such as the DC-3, DC-4 and the DC-6, currently holds the post of Senior Training Captain with South African Airways on the Airbus A340, flying international routes including destinations such as London, Frankfurt, Munich, New York, Washington, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Perth.
He has always loved flying the DC-3 and his family business, Springbok Classic Air at Rand Airport has been operating DC-3 Flying Safaris for the last 10 years, together with his daughter Petro and son Peet as co-pilots.
On 18 December 2010 he hosted a function in the hangar from which he operates his business, located next to the Dakota Lodge, also owned by the family.
Guests were formally attired in period costume and throughout the day flips were offered on the beautifully restored piston Dakota ZS-NTE culminating in a 5-ship formation flight preceding the dinner function.
The formation consisted of three piston DC-3’s and two SAAF C-47 turbo props.
Flippie’s ZS-NTE is an ex 35 Squadron DC-3, formerly 6873, which became surplus to requirements in 1995
She was sold to a private operator at Rand Airport in 1996. Springbok Classic Air bought her in 2003 and she was put into storage until April 2009 when a total of 8-months labour began. Her interior is luxurious and her exterior a shining silver with dark green detail. She will be used mainly for luxury Flying Safaris for international clients and for domestic corporate flights. Local sightseeing flights from Rand Airport take place on the last Saturday of each month.