SAAF Museum gives kids ‘wings’

Lynne Gadd-Claxton

IF it has wheels and a motor, it is any boy’s dream to experience.

And visiting the South African Air Force Museum, in Port Elizabeth will add the wings to make that dream come true.

The museum is situated at the old 42nd Air School on the south side of the Port Elizabeth airport and displays a diverse number of aircraft and artifacts.

The restored gunnery training building houses an impressive collection of airplanes, various plane engines, information and artifacts from World War 2 missiles and an even more impressive model airplane display.

Planes on exhibit inside the museum include the De Haviland Vampire, Dassault-Breguet mirage, Harvard and Impala. The collections on display in the Belman Hangar, where planes are in the process of being restored, are a Spitfire, Harvard and Puma helicopter. Not all visitors to the museum are allowed inside the Belman hangar but if children are on their best behaviour, they will be allowed a sneak peek at the restoration of the aircraft.

It can be difficult to tell a young boy not to climb under or in a plane to inspect the mechanics. However, there is one airplane on display which children are allowed to sit in.

The Atlas Impala Mk II will allow children to experience what it feels like to be a pilot while mom and dad wait below.

The museum does have a tuck shop on site where visitors can grab a snack and a cooldrink and mom and dad can sit on the grass while the kids play in the aircraft jungle gym.

The museum at Forest Hill Drive in Southdene, Port Elizabeth is open Tuesday to Thursday from 8am until 3pm, Saturday from 9am till 3pm, and Sunday from 10am till 4pm. Entrance is free but donations are accepted for the upkeep of the museum. Inquiries: (041)505-1295.

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