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Aviation at DF Malan Airport from 1976 to 1977

In this article the aviation scene at DF Malan Airport (ICAO code FACT) from 1976 to 1977 is described and illustrated.
Unrestricted photography
Those were the good old days without any glazing on the viewing balconies to make photography difficult and with a more tolerable attitude towards photography. Terrorism was not yet the mayor problem it has since become and people could afford to be more relaxed.
The main airport complex at FACT had a domestic, international and freight section and there were at least two viewing balconies (one with a lower and upper level and one to the right-hand side of the terminal building – towards the general-aviation area) in the domestic part of the airport complex. In addition, there were the SAA technical area (also used by for instance Aerolineas Argentinas aircraft between flights) and the general-aviation area, where all the local private aircraft and operators could be found. Visiting private aircraft used the apron to the side of the freight section or to the right-hand side of the domestic terminal. The SAAF also had a base opposite the terminal building (27 Squadron’s Albatrosses and 35 Squadron’s Shackletons).

 This is the main apron in front of the domestic terminal, with the open balcony on the left (in the domestic terminal the balcony is on the right-hand side) and semi-enclosed balconies towards the right, behind the fin of the Cherokee. The control tower is visible on the right-hand side of the terminal. Note the name D.F. MALAN on top of the terminal building. Turbo Centurion ZS-IVH is parked to the right of the Cherokee. The photographer is looking towards the north-western side. Please note that this is not one of my images.

This is a view from the open balcony towards the right-hand side (looking in a south-eastern direction) of the domestic terminal. Visiting private aircraft were usually parked on this apron. The original black-and-white photograph was taken on 9 July 1977. Visible in this image are Douglas C-54A ZS-IPR of Suidwes Lugdiens, Beech 65-B90 King Air ZS-BEN2 (with Delmas Kuiken titles) and a Beech Baron and Cessna.

This view of the domestic terminal shows the two semi-enclosed open balconies (one above the other). The open balcony is situated to the left and the control tower to the right.

In this image a Boeing 707 (LV-ISA) of Aerolineas Argentinas (in front of the international terminal) and a Lockheed Starlifter (65-0272, on the freight apron) of the United States Air Force (USAF) are illustrated. The photographer was standing on the lower of the two semi-enclosed balconies in the domestic terminal. The original black-and-white film was exposed on 9 February 1977.

This is a view from a taxiway on the northern side of the airport. The two Suidwes Lugdiens Skymasters are standing on the freight apron. The control tower (on top of the international terminal) can be seen behind the Skymasters and the domestic terminal can be seen behind the control tower and international terminal complex. The general-aviation area is to the left and behind the domestic terminal. The original slide was taken on 21 May 1977.

The fence surrounds the SAA technical area, where Aerolineas Argentinas Boeing 707s were often parked between flights.

Overseas, domestic and regional movements
Some of the interesting overseas movements at DF Malan Airport during this period included visits by a Boeing EC135N (see the separate article) and by Lockheed C-141 Starlifters of the United States Air Force (USAF) as well as scheduled flights by Boeing 707s of international airlines such as Aerolineas Argentinas, Pan American World Airways and VARIG. Although the domestic scene was dominated by SAA in those days, local airlines included Air Cape and Namakwaland Lugdiens. Suidwes Lugdiens undertook regular regional flights to Cape Town. Additionally, many visiting aircraft from other provinces in South Africa and from elsewhere in Africa were seen at FACT. These included aircraft from Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) and Zambia. The Hercules freighters of Safair also regularly called at FACT. The Dakotas of 25 Squadron of the SAAF (located at Air Force Base Ysterplaat) also made regular landings and takeoffs at FACT.
Foreign military movements

Foreign military movements included a visit by USAF Lockheed C-141A Starlifter 66-0174 on 19 May 1977. The machine was from the 437th Military Airlift Wing of Military Air Command. The aircraft is seen on the freight apron.

International airlines

International scheduled airlines serving FACT during the period under review included Aerolineas Argentinas. Here Boeing 707-372C construction number 20077 and registration number LV-LGP is seen on 31 May 1977. The Boeing customer code for this aircraft is 72, which indicates that Airlift International was the original customer.

Another scheduled international airline operating to and from DF Malan was Pan American World Airways. Boeing 707-321B N882PA is depicted on 9 July 1977. PAN AM had the Boeing customer code 21. The aircraft has construction number 20021.

VARIG also operated services to and from FACT. Boeing 707-345C PP-VJY is seen at DFM on 20 May 1977. BRASIL and V A R I G titles; Brazilian flag; VARIG logo on tailfin; constructor’s number 19840; ex N7321S; “-45” indicates original customer was Seaboard World

Local airlines

One of the local airlines was Air Cape. This Hawker Siddeley HS748 Series 2A is registered ZS-JAY, has constructor’s number 1717 and had previously been registered F-BUTR, G-BASZ and G-11-9. It was allocated the ZS registration in January 1975. The photograph was taken on 27 January 1977.

Local operators included Namakwaland Lugdiens. In this view Piper PA-31 Navajos ZS-NLI (left) and ZS-NLG (right) can be seen. Both aircraft have NAMAKWALAND LUGDIENS titles and the Namaqualand Airservice logo (on the tailfin). ZS-NLI has constructor’s number 31-355 (1969 model), was previously (ZS-OHL), ZS-CHL2, ZS-MWM, ZS-FWI and N9270Y and was registered in June 1974. ZS-NLG has constructor’s number 31-303 (1968 model), was previously ZS-FNA and N9235Y and was registered in October 1973. The photograph was taken on 25 February 1977.

In this image two aircraft of South African Airways are depicted. From left to right appear Boeing 707-344 ZS-SAA (constructor’s number 17928) and Boeing 707-344C ZS-SAF (constructor’s number 19706). ZS-SAA (named Johannesburg) was previously ZS-CKC and was registered in December 1968. ZS-SAF (named Port Elizabeth) was previously ZS-EUX and was registered in December 1968 as well. The original colour slide was taken on 3 October 1976.

Visible from left to right are Boeing 707-344B ZS-SAE (constructor’s number 19133), Boeing 727-44 ZS-SBB (constructor’s number 18893) and another SAA Boeing 727. ZS-SAE (named Windhoek) was previously ZS-EKV and was also registered in December 1968. ZS-SBB (named Limpopo) has the previous identity ZS-DYN and was registered in March 1969. The photograph was taken on 20 May 1977.

Regional airline

A regional airline was South West Airways/Suidwes Lugdiens. Douglas C-54A-5-DO (“DO” denotes Santa Monica production) ZS-IPR is seen taxying to its stand on 25 February 1977. The ship has constructor’s number 7488, was previously USAAF 42-107469, NC53103, PI-C102, HS-POE, HS-TSA, Thai Air Force 42-107469, VQ-ZEF and A2-ZEF and was registered in January 1972. The aircraft is named Alexander Bay.

Other visiting aircraft

It is presumed that this is a visitor from the then Transvaal (now part of Gauteng). Note the Transvaal Aviation Club logo on the tailfin of this Cessna 182D Skylane (constructor’s number 18253494, previous identity N9094X and registration date June 1961). The photograph was taken on 25 September 1977.

Piper PA-28-235C Cherokee VP-WFU was from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). It is seen on 24 December 1976. constructor’s number 28-11066; 1968 model; previously ZS-FMW (registered 1968, cancelled January 1976)

Regional visitors seen during the period 1976 to 1977 included this Cessna 182K Skylane from Zambia on 16 January 1977. constructor’s number 18258117; 1967 model; registered April 1967; previously ZS-EPN and N3117Q

Lockheed L382G ZS-RSI of Safair is seen at FACT on 5 February 1977. The constructor’s number of the machine is 4600 and its registration date is April 1975. The photograph was taken on 5 February 1977.

Dakotas of 25 Squadron SAAF at Ysterplaat often performed circuits and bumps at DF Malan. This is a view from the domestic terminal, looking towards the east. Note the SAAF base, consisting of 27 Squadron (Albatrosses) and 35 Squadron (Shackletons) hangars and other buildings. Serial number 6867 is a Douglas C-47A. The photograph was taken on 9 February 1977.

Local residents
Both Air Cape and Namakwaland Lugdiens used FACT as base. Local residents also included Court Helicopters (later renamed CHC), the ambulance aircraft of the SA Red Cross Society, Cape Aero Club and the Good Hope Flying Club and numerous private aircraft. Rembrandt Tobacco had a Swaziland-registered Falcon 10 that was based at FACT. Air Cape and Cape Aero Services had their own hangars. Interesting local aircraft included Tiger Moth ZS-JVZ, Ryan Navion ZS-BSZ and Piper Cub ZS-BCV.

ZS-EDX is a Dakota of Air Cape, one of the airlines based at FACT at the time. The hangar in the SAA technical area can be seen on the right. The original slide film was exposed on 3 October 1976. In 1976 Air Cape had the following aircraft in its fleet: ZS-CYX, ZS-EEF, ZS-FVP, ZS-EDX, ZS-EYN, ZS-EYO and ZS-JAY.

Namakwaland Lugdiens was another local airline with a base at DFM. In this image Piper Aztecs ZS-NLC, ZS-JIB and ZS-NLE are depicted (from left to right). Note the NAMAKWALAND LUGDIENS titles and logo on ZS-NLC and ZS-NLE. The photograph was taken on 31 May 1977.According to JP 1976 Namakwaland Lugdiens had the following aircraft in 1976 in its fleet: ZS-NLA, ZS-NLB, ZS-NLC, ZS-NLD, ZS-NLE, ZS-NLF and ZS-NLI. According to World Fleets 1977 Namakwaland Lugdiens had the following aircraft in 1977 in its fleet: ZS-JIB, ZS-JJX, ZS-NLB, ZS-NLC, ZS-NLD, ZS-NLE, ZS-NLF, ZS-NLG, NLH and ZS-NLI.

A DF Malan-based company was Court Helicopters. The original slide of Sikorsky S-58 ZS-HCX was taken on 19 December 1976. The Court colours are well illustrated. According to JP 1976 Court had the following aircraft in 1976 in its fleet: ZS-HCP, ZS-HCR, ZS-HCS, ZS-HCW, ZS-HCX, ZS-HDC, ZS-HDE, ZS-HDJ, ZS-HDK, ZS-HDM, ZS-HDN, ZS-HDO, ZS-HDP and ZS-MIT. According to World Fleets 1977 Court had the following aircraft in 1977 in its fleet: ZS-HCE, ZS-HCP, ZS-HCW, ZS-HCX ZS-HDE, ZS-HDK, ZS-HDP, ZS-HGL and ZS-MIT. However, judging by my photographic collection, there were in addition ZS-HFZ and ZS-HGU in the 1977 fleet.

The Albatrosses of 27 Squadron SAAF operated from a base at DF Malan Airport. Here P166S number 884 is seen flying on 9 July 1977.

The Cape Aero Club operated from DF Malan. In the 1970s ZS-IYI was used by the club and is seen on 5 February 1977. Note the CAC sticker on the tailfin.

Here Piper PA-23-250D Aztec of the South African Red Cross Society is seen on 22 January 1977. all-white colour scheme with red crosses, “The Spirit of Rotary”, DIE SUID-AFRIKAANSE ROOIKRUISVERENIGING (KAAPSE STREEK) and THE SOUTH AFRICAN RED CROSS SOCIETY (CAPE REGION) titles and Rotary International logo.

This image illustrates Rembrandt Tobacco’s Falcon 10. The Cape Aero Club building can be seen on the right and the Falcon is standing in front of the main Air Cape hangar. This hangar is in the “front” row next to the taxiway facing east. construction number 405 and was based at Cape Town.

Tiger Moth ZS-JVZ is shown at DFM on 31 December 1976.

Ryan Navion ZS-BSZ is depicted at FACT on 22 January 1977. It has constructor’s number NAV-4-651 and was previously NC8651H (this could also have been N8651H).

In this view of Piper Cub ZS-BCV the ship is shown at FACT on 27 January 1977. It has constructor’s number 17882.

21 NOVEMBER 1976

Douglas C-47A ZS-DJK of Aircraft Operating Company is seen at DFM on 21 November 1976. The machine is parked in the Cape Aero Services area. At least 14 complete aircraft or parts of aircraft are visible in this image! From left to right some of the identifiable aircraft are: Mooney M20C ZS-CBD, Cherokee Archer ZS-JUA and Piper Apache ZS-JIK. Unidentified aircraft include the following: two Beech Barons, another Dakota (ZS-ASN2), an Aztec of Namakwaland Lugdiens and at least three other Cherokees.

19 DECEMBER 1976

Other aircraft visible in this image (made on 19 December 1976 in the Court Helicopters area) of Court S-58 ZS-HCX include (from left to right):  Apache ZS-JIK, Cherokee ZS-AMI2, Colt ZS-CSF, and Skyhawk ZS-FUI. An Ercoupe and eight other complete or bits of aircraft can be seen as well. The rear of the main Air Cape hangar (on the left) and one of the Cape Aero Services hangars (on the right) can be seen in the background.

22 DECEMBER 1976

Piper PA-28-140D Cherokee ZS-UCT3 was registered for the first time in November 1974 and belongs to the UCT (University of Cape Town) Flying Club. The photographer is facing east and the back of the Air Cape hangar in the “front” row next to the taxiway is visible behind the Cherokee, which is parked in the Cape Aero Services area.

31 DECEMBER 1976

Beech 95-B55 Baron ZS-IMO is seen at FACT on 31 December 1976. The Cape Aero Services hangars can be seen to the left of and behind the Baron. The photographer is facing west.

ZS-VIS2, a BN-2A-3 Islander, was used on fish-spotting duties. The photograph was taken on 31 December 1976. The word “vis” is the Afrikaans equivalent of “fish”.


BAC 1-11 3D-LLG2 of the Louis Luyt Group is seen on 9 February 1977.

19 MAY 1977
This helicopter had FILMAIR titles in 1977. Its constructor’s number was 7593 and it was previously N6229N. The machine was first registered ZS-HCS in February 1969.

Visible in this image, made on 19 May 1977, of SAA Boeing 727 ZS-SBF are the following details: SAA colours and logos on forward fuselage and tailfin, SUID-AFRIKAANSE LUGDIENS titles, SA flag on rear fuselage and named Komati.

20 MAY 1977

In this photograph, taken on 20 May 1977, ZS-SBB is depicted with the following colours and markings: SAA colours and logos on forward fuselage and tailfin, SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS titles, SA flag on rear fuselage and named Limpopo.

31 MAY 1977

This image illustrates Mercurius (HS125-400B) ZS-JIH of 21 Squadron SAAF on 31 May 1977. Apart from the registration, there are no other markings on the aircraft.
2 JULY 1977

Beech 95-B55 Baron CR-LLI is seen on 2 July 1977.

This is an illustration of Beech 58 Baron ZS-BSP2 on the same date.

Boeing Aircraft since 1916; Peter M Bowers; Putnam Aeronautical Books; 1989
Civil Aircraft Registers of Africa; edited by Ian P Burnett; Air-Britain; 1981

Civil Aircraft Registers of Africa; edited by Ian P Burnett; Air-Britain; 1988

Civil Aircraft Registers of Zimbabwe; edited by Ian P Burnett; Air-Britain; 1983

Douglas DC-3 Survivors; Arthur Piercy; Aston Publications; 1988

85 Years of South African Air Force; Winston Brent – 1920 to 2005; African Aviation Series, No 1; Freeworld Publications CC; 2005

Gabriel le Roux photographic collection

JP 1976 = JP Airline-fleets 76; FE Bucher and U Klee; Editions JP; 1976

Own notes

Photographic collection, comprising my own black-and-white negatives and photos, colour negatives and photos, slides and digital images; as well as those of others

Piston Engine Airliner Production List; AB Eastwood and J Roach; The Aviation Hobby Shop; 2002

The Douglas DC-1/DC-2/ DC-3: The First Seventy Years, Volume 2, Jennifer Gradidge, Air-Britain, 2006
The Douglas DC-3 and its predecessors, JM Gradidge, Air-Britain, 1984
THE GENERAL AVIATION HANDBOOK – A Guide to Postwar General Aviation, Manufacturers and their Aircraft; Rod Simpson; Midland Publishing; 2005

World Fleets 1977 = World Airline Fleets 1977; Günter G Endres; Airline Publications and Sales; 1977
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