Boeing 737-219 Advanced
c/n: 23472 l/n: 1194
The call came in on Wednesday morning the 10th of September 2014.
"Would you like a 737?".
"Then organise it – I'll bring it on Sunday"
That was about the sum total of my (John "Jaws" Austin-Williams) chat with Captain Dennis Spence!
From Wednesday to Sunday it was a blur of E-mails, SMSs, WhatsApps and Cell Phone calls, both locally and to our Vice Chairman, Richard Hunt who was in Canada at the time.
To Ian Cruickshank, our Treasurer - "Have we got funds for fuel, ATNS, ferry permit etc?" "ah... well... how much do we need?" "I'll get back to you".
As it transpired there was fuel in the aerie, enough for the ferry from OR Tambo International Airport to Rand Airport, so panic off in that regard.
To Joppie Nieman, our secretary and PRO - "We've been donated a 737, get on the blower to all your radio, TV and print media contacts". "Consider it done!"
Jaws to Stuart Coetzee and Paul Roberts of Rand Airport and Hennie Delport of Phoebus Apollo - "ah, guys, we've been given a 737... she's coming on Sunday!". "Where are you going to put it?" "We'll make space but can we store her at Hennie's for a few days?". "You've got 45 days, thereafter I'll cut her up!"
Peter Frame from Swissport "Tow bar on its way".
Renette Buys from Phoebus Apollo "Tractor and driver Johan Coetzer ready for you!"
Apart from a few anxious moments all the planning went smoothly.
A letter confirming the donation was received from Fabian Bachrach. Peter Annear of Star Air Cargo, based at Denel, arranged the ferry permit with CAA.
Captain Dennis Spence, Captain Glen Warden and Safety Officer Rodger Thomas did all the flight planning - we were "good to go".
And so at around 10h00 on Sunday 14 September ZS-SMD climbed out of OR Tambo for the last time.
Some air-to-air photography took place; she made two fly pasts for the photographers, then two "runway inspections" and finally at 10h59 the crew put her down gently on runway 29 at Rand.
A crowd of about 150 people had gathered to witness the final landing of this classic aircraft.
She was parked on the apron in front of the terminal building for a couple of hours – the first Boeing 737 to land and Rand!
After the obligatory crew photographs and chats to the media she was taxied to the Phoebus Apollo Aviation apron where she will remain for the next few weeks until being towed up to the Museum’s aircraft park.
Construction number 23472, line number 1194, first took to the air on 20 January 1986. She was registered ZK-NAV on 3 February, handed over to Air New Zealand on 10 February and arrived in New Zealand on 15 February. Named “Pukeko” she was put into service on 21 February 1986.
In her career as a passenger airliner she has seen service with the following operators:
ZK-NAV Air New Zealand
XA-NAV Aviacsa (Mexico)
N472BC Celtic Capital
ZS-SMD Star Air Cargo
ZS-SMD Air Namibia
ZS-SMD LAM (Linhas Aereas Mocambique) Mozambique
ZS-SMD Proflight Zambia
She was also used by Mango Airlines for some flights.
Unfortunately the costs of a D-check were too expensive and so rather than face the axe-man she was donated to the Museum.
Photographs below courtesy Jennifer Armstrong and John Austin-Williams.