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The South African Airways Museum Society

Special Event

Nelson Mandela Day

Sunday 18 July 2010


Several events were held across Johannesburg on Nelson Mandela Day, Sunday 18 July 2010, including organisations chipping in to make the day memorable for a group of youngsters, Joburg Water installing water at a poor school and the executive mayor visiting a near destitute former political activist in Alexandra Township.


On the day - Mandela's birthday - people around the world are urged to dedicate 67 minutes of their time towards the common good of humanity, representing the 67 years Mandela gave to the fight for human rights.


Jubilation and excitement filled the air on Sunday, 18 July when over 100 youngsters from Zenele Orphanage Home in Fine Town and Kwena Molapo High School in Lanseria waited to celebrate this special occasion. The City's transport department spent more than just 67 minutes by taking the children to Rand Airport in Germiston.


Early on Sunday morning, youngsters at the orphanage stood ready and waiting in two lines as Rehana Moosajee, the portfolio head of transport, and her staff drove up to the home in Metrobus buses, in which many of the children had never sat.


Moosajee greeted the well-behaved group before briefing them on the journey. She also spoke about transport and the job opportunities in the sector. Before setting off, she handed out Joburg scarves to each of the children, aged five to 14, as well as to their teachers.


Then the youngsters dashed towards the two buses that waited on the side of the road. These little Joburgers set their sights on Rand Airport for a tour on Lebombo, the South African Aviation (SAA) Museum of South Africa's Boeing 747.


Their faces turned towards the open road as the buses drove to the airport, eyes glowing. Gasps were heard all round when they spotted a huge swimming pool. As the buses pulled on to the gravel road just a few metres from the planes the kids jumped up from their seats in excitement, ready to leave one form of transport and board another.


Children enjoy "a ride" in a Boeing 747



Jean Swart, the marketing and co-ordinating officer at the museum, took the group on a tour of the outside of the plane explaining about the tyres, engines, running of the aircraft and outer body of it. They then went inside the Boeing 747, and were allowed to take their seats and were given an opportunity for questions and answers.


This aircraft has a special place in the hearts of locals. "On 24 June 1995, we were fortunate enough to write Lebombo into the history books of this wonderful country when we flew over Ellis Park Stadium for the finals of the Rugby World Cup [which was won by the Springboks]," said the pilot Laurie Kay.


Lebombo was derived from the Zulu word "ubombo", which meant "big nose", said Sean Blaauw, the chairman of the museum.


The aircraft was bought for R17-million and was first flown on 30 September 1971. It spent 31 years, 11 months and 14 days in service before landing at Rand Airport. Other planes on show at the museum include the Lockheed Lodestar, Vickers Viking MK1A, de Havilland Dove and the Lockheed Starliner.


The Aviation Museum is the only one in the world to have two Boeing 747s and the only one to have a 747 SP, said Blaauw, and there were only two in the world that still flew.

Text by Romaana Naidoo

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