On 17 December 2010 the world of aviation celebrated the first flight of the legendary Douglas DC-3 Dakota, seventy-five years ago. The local aviation fraternity congregated at Rand Airport on Saturday the 18th near Johannesburg for a big birthday bash, organised and hosted by Flippie Vermeulen of Springbok Classic Air.

The South African Air Force made a worthwhile contribution to the festivities by sending two C-47TP’s from 35 Squadron at AFB Ysterplaat as well as providing the historic radial powered C-47 from the SAAF Museum at Swartkop.  The SAAF trio led a magnificent sunset formation fly-past of five aircraft above Rand airport, much to the delight of aviation photographers.

The formation consisted of:

  • SAAF Museum C-47 6859
  • 35 Squadron C-47TP 6840
  • 35 Squadron C-47TP 6852
  • Springbok Classic Air DC-3 ZS-NTE
  • Phoebus Apollo DC-3 ZS-DIW

The military derivative of the DC-3 was known as the C-47 and the South African Air Force operated the historic radial powered aircraft in large numbers between 1944 and 1994.  Today the SAAF continues to utilize the modernized turbo-prop version of these venerable aircraft.  The remaining “TP Daks”, as they are popularly known, are operated by 35 Squadron from AFB Ysterplaat in the martime patrol task.  The SAAF Museum’ Historic Flight, maintains one radial powered C-47 in flying condition from Swartkop, while another aircraft, known as the “Coelacanth Dak” is currently being restored to flying condition at Ysterplaat.

Photos:  Bruce Perkins  & John Austin-William

Capt Leon Steyn