Home DC-3 50th Anniversary flypast

Douglas DC-3 50th Anniversary

Flypast at Swartkop

SAA Flight To Bloemfontein


Flypast at Swartkop

Tuesday 17 December 1985

South Africa celebrated the daks half-century with a formation flypast at Swartkop Air Force base on 17 December 1985. Captain Bill Good was the formation leader and flew SAAF 6852 C/N 15557/27002. 24 SAAF daks and 3 civilian daks took part.
The three civil daks were:
ZS-FRM of Comair
ZS-UAS of United Air
ZS-LJI of Wonder Air

42963 ZS-FRM at Swartkop 17 Dec 1985 Stefaan Bouwer

C/N 42963

ZS-FRM Comair

At the Dakota 50th Anniversary Fly-past at Swartkop Air Force Base 17 December 1985

Photograph: Stefaan Bouwer

The CASA 352L (Spanish licence built Junkers Ju 52/3m) ZS-UYU, later to become ZS-AFA, was also present.

Dakota 50th Anniversary Fly-past
Written by Captain William “Bill” Good
In order to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Dakota (DC-3 / C-47) authority was given in November 1985 by South African Air Force (SAAF) Headquarters to stage a mass fly past of the aircraft on 17 December 1985 over AFB Swartkop.
On the 21 November 1985, the first timing run was completed by Capt. Bill Good (Aircraft Captain) and Capt. Niel Smit (Co-Pilot) from CFS Dunnottar to AFB Swartkop in Dakota 6852. A second timing run was completed on 5 December 1985 in Dakota 6849 by Capt. Bill Good with Maj. Glen Williams as the Co-Pilot.
All SAAF cockpit crew who had previously flown the DC-3 and who were available were "drafted in" and regained currency. After ascertaining the total number of crew available against the number of aircraft available, it was decided to fly six diamond box formations giving a total of 24 aircraft. The individual formations were given the colours 'Red, Pink, Green, Yellow, Brown and Blue.' Three civilian operators of the Dakota were approached to join the rear of the formation, flying line astern. The aircraft were from the Directorate of Civil Aviation, Comair and United.
Crews from 44 Squadron (AFB Swartkop), 25 Squadron (AFB Ysterplaat) and 86 Multi-engine Flying School (86 MEFS) at AFB Bloemspruit, began honing their formation skills from early December 1985. During one of the practices, by aircraft from 44 Squadron, two aircraft were involved in a midair collision. The port wing and engine of a Dakota flying in the No 3 position, moved under the starboard wing of the lead aircraft of the formation. While attempting to move back into formation, approximately 20% of the leading edge of the starboard wing of the lead aircraft was “chewed-up,” also causing the starboard aileron to become dislodged and some damage to the outer portion of the split trailing edge flaps. It was agreed by all that had a similar mid air collision occurred between any other type of aircraft, the result would have been catastrophic. This event once again bore testament to the Douglas DC-3 and even more so to the skill of the aircrew who flew the damaged aircraft and landed safely.
Over the weekend of 14 and 15 December and on the holiday of 16 December 1985, aircraft and crews from Cape Town and Bloemfontein arrived at AFB Swartkop. A mass briefing was held on the morning of the 17 December 1985. The lead aircraft took-off at 1330B and was followed at one minute intervals by the other aircraft. The individual formations headed to the CFS Dunnottar general flying area where the core formation was completed. The positioning of the formations was assisted by a “spotter” Harvard from CFS Dunnottar. At approximately 1445B the "run-in" commenced after the three civilian Dakotas joined the formation. The routing commenced from overhead CFS Dunnottar airfield, past Jan Smuts International Airport, then positioning on a heading of 020ºM to over fly AFB Swartkop. The main formation then broke into the individual formations and positioned for the landing at AFB Swartkop. When the final Dakota had landed and parked, a mass shutdown of 54 Pratt and Whitney engines was completed.
It is believed that this was the largest formation of Dakota DC-3 / C-47 aircraft to have flown since the Second World War and that this record still stands.


By Dave Becker
17th December 1985 marked the 50th Anniversary of the first flight of the DC-3 or Dakota as it as often known in this part of the world.

Various events have been staged in 1985 to commemorate this historic occasion worldwide, but definitely the biggest event so far was held at AFB Swartkop on the 17th December. It is not often that South Africa can claim top spot in the aviation world but this was one occasion that it could.

The newly formed Dakota Association of SA, headed by long time Dakota pilot and enthusiast Vic Fouche, was instrumental in getting the show off the ground and the SAAF (and in particular, AFB Swartkop) providing the venue and the bulk of the aeroplanes, did much of the organization.

Because of other commitments it was not possible to provide 50 aircraft for the flypast; however a total of 27 finally took to the air providing a spectacle reminiscent of WWII when large formations of Dakotas and mass parachute crops were the order of the day. Limited parking facilities and other factors precluded a public display, nevertheless over 700 invitations were sent out to past and present Dakota aircrews, ground crews and enthusiasts all over South Africa.

Unfortunately civilian support for the fly past was rather poor and only three companies eventually took part sending one Dakota each, namely: Comair, United Air and Wonderair. These organisations are to be congratulated for their support - thumbs down to the others that stayed away and did not support a great event in aviation history!

SAAF units that provided the 24 military Dakotas were 44 sqd, 35 sqn, 25 sqn and 86 Multi Engined Flying School.

In addition to the main fly past, three Daks did a mass parachute drop, another two flew past escorting SAA's Ju 52/3m and the Smirnoff Pitts S-2A ZS-LNZ, performed an aerobatic routine.

The SAAF Museum issued a commemorative cover on the day and this was flown to A F B Swartkop in Dakota 6829 of 35 sqn. Special signed covers were available signed by the guest of honour, Maj. J.T. Slabbert who had ferried the first SAAF Dakota from Accra to Germiston in 1943.

The museum also provided a static display of photographs, models and souvenirs relating to the DC-3.

After the fly past, guests were treated to a cock tail party in one of the hangars, ending the event “in the right spirit”.

The above article appeared in South African Aeronews number 33, January 1986

Official Journal of the Aero Club of South Africa. Incorporating S.A. Microlite Flyer

Workhorse of the skies turns 50 by Dave Becker SA Aeronews January 1986 DC-3 Dakota
DC-3's lined up before take-off for the formation fly-past. (Pic. Dave Becker)


27 Dakota formation flypast at the 50th Anniversary of the DC-3 celebration.

Swartkop Air Force base 17 December 1985

Photograph: Peter Wonfor

      Bill Good      
      Glenn Williams      
    Kallie Minaar   Len Masencamp    
    Johan van Schalkwyk   Chris de Jager    
      Trevor Watkins      
  Tom Rautenbach   Graham Kier   Brian Wilford  
  Gerhard Borslap       Roger Bradfield  
"Brandy" Branders   Mel Pienaar   Trevor Hill   Bain Uliate
Dave Upfold   Chinky Pretorius   Keith Dell   Rob Hunter
  Willie Wallace       "Bokkie" du Plessis  
  Carel Ceronio   Gawie Steenkamp   Mick Yorke  
      Marius Bergman      
    Jan van Zyl   Piet Rossouw    
    Aubry Stoman   Fred Young    
      Andre Holtzhauzen      
  Ray Houghton   Johan Saayman   Neil Smit  
  Malcolm Browning       Marius Santos  
Koos Loock   Neil Crossey   Mike Miller   Rob Heard
Charl Yssel   Piet Venter   Peter Robertson   Anton Kieck
  Ralph Platte       Adrian Strange  
  Bruce Nelson       Geoff Shelley  

SAAF Dakota line up at the 50th Anniversary of the DC-3 celebration.

Swartkop 17 December 1985

Photograph: Peter Wonfor





50th a 24 daks in flight 1 Stefaan Bouwer

Dakota 50th Anniversary Fly-past at Swartkop Air Force Base 17 December 1985

Photograph: Stefaan Bouwer



SAAF Dakota line up at the 50th Anniversary of the DC-3 celebration.

Swartkop 17 December 1985

Photograph: William Bill Good collection


All pictures below and flight cover courtesy Bill Good collection


Standing (left to right) Lt Andre Holtzhauzen, Capt Piet du Toit, Maj Gawie Steenkamp, Capt Gerhard Borslap, Capt Louis van Wyk, Maj “Chinky” Pretorius, Capt “Swuys” Mare, Capt Dave Upfold, Capt Johan van Schalkwyk, Maj Andre van Zyl, Capt “Brandy” Branders, Capt Neil Smit, Capt Bain Ulyate, Capt Tom Rautenbach, Capt Ray Edwards, Lt Charl Yssel, Capt Keith Dell, Capt Anton Kieck, Capt Willie Wallace, Capt Rodger Bradfield, Capt Bruce Nelson, Capt Adrian Strange, Capt Neil Crossey, Col Kallie Minaar, Capt Mike Miller, Cmdt Brian Wilford, Capt Mel Pienaar

Kneeling (left to right) Capt Bill Good (Formation Leader), Capt Ralph Platte, Capt Jan van Zyl, Capt Robbie Heard, Capt Len Masencamp, Capt Mick Yorke, Lt Johannes Saayman, Capt Trevor Watkins, Maj Glen Williams, Maj “Bokkie” du Plessis, Capt Piet Rossouw, Capt Marius Bergman, Capt Fred Young

Sitting (left to right) Lt Chris de Jager, Capt Sarel Ceronio, Capt Aubrey Stoman, Lt Geoff Shelly, Capt Marius Santos, Maj Ray Houghton, Capt Peter Robertson, Capt Rob Hunter, Lt Graham Kier, Maj Koos Loock, Col Piet Venter

Front (left to right) Cmdt Malcolm Browning, Major Trevor Hill



This cover was flown in a Dakota of 44 Squadron from CFS, Dunnotar to AFB Swartkop on 17 December 1985






SAA Flight to Bloemfontein

Tuesday 17 December 1985

The following was received from Captain Dave Lawrence

December 2009

DC-3 50th Anniversary flight to Bloemfintein.

This flight also took place on 17th December 1985, in the morning. We just managed to get back in time for the afternoon event at Swartkop - I remember we departed Jan Smuts for Swartkop with about five minutes to spare, to make the "latest landing" time at Swartkop.

On this date, SAA chartered ZS-FRM from Comair for a morning commemorative flight from Jan Smuts to Bloemfontein and return. I was captain, and the First Officer was Robin de Jager. The two air hostesses were SAA cabin crew members, Miss I. Byrne and Miss A. Durand. The whole flight was operated to a very high standard, with very impressive catering. There was a full load of 30 passengers outbound, of which two remained in Bloemfontein, the rest returning with us

Flight Number was SA5050, and a postal First Day Cover was issued for the event. I and the F/O spent about half an hour signing a large number of these! (They had to be signed in Bloemfontein).

Total flying time, chock-to-chock, for the return flight was 3 hours 15 minutes.

Departure from Jan Smuts was scheduled for 07.30, arriving Bloemfontein at 09.00. Departure from Bloemfontein was scheduled for 10.00, with arrival at JS at 11.30. (I think the times "slipped" a bit!!!).

SAA issued a special commemorative ticket which included the Comair ticket. Mr. Nick Venter of SAA, was one of the "passengers", flying as the SAA representative. I still have a copy of the handwritten "Operations Order" supplied by SAA. I also have one of the FDCs.



Dave Lawrence

FDC SAA 42 Dave Lawrence 50 years of the DC-3

Flight cover SAA 42

50th Anniversary of the Douglas DC-3

42963 ZS-FRM at Bloemfontein 17 December 1985 Captain Dave Lawrence

C/N 42963

ZS-FRM at Bloemfontein

Captain Dave Lawrence with SAA Hostesses Miss I. Byrne and Miss A. Durand

17 December 1985

Photograph: Captain Dave Lawrence


Joomla Templates by Joomlashack