Date: Thursday, 24 June, 2010, 7:59
Good morning John from a sunny warm UK.
Recently, I decided to write about some of my more memorable aviation experiences for my grandchildren. Although I had old newspaper reports about the ZS-DKR incident, I thought that I’d look online for more information on the aircraft.
The Rand Airport world of 1969-71 that I knew was full of colourful characters.
Affectionately named ‘Ma’ Lister by all flying crew, Mrs Lister ran the Mobil fuel consortium at Rand. I still have a round ‘Mobil’ disc that she gave me for converting Avgas-Jet A1, US gal, litres, nautical and statute miles, kilometres, metres, yards, feet.
Mercurial ‘Uncle’ Jack Andrew was my boss and GM of NAC.
Mr ‘Dickie’ Dunn was owner of Beechcraft Sales that owned NAC.
Handlebar moustached Captain ‘Lew’ Lewis was NAC chief pilot, ex EAA and a ‘Berlin Blockade’ veteran (24 June 1948 – 12 May 1949).
Captain Eddie Koller was chief pilot of NAC’s rival, Protea Airways and a Sabena veteran of the miraculous DC-3 escape in 1960 from murderous rebel held Elizabethville, Belgium Congo.
Captain Vic Fouche was still involved with the SAAF and later became Royal Swazi Airways chief pilot.
During my term, the remarkable versatile Dakota was involved with nightmarish newspaper runs, raucous rugby supporters, international singing celebrity tours, humanitarian flights, violent hallucinating passengers and unfortunately a few accidents. It was an unforgettable time of pioneering aviation.
Unfortunately, few photos of all those years were made that I know of but I do have one, of ZS-FRJ attached, given to me by my friend Des Sheridan who ran the NAC Travel Agency at Winchester House (long demolished) in central Jo’burg. He died last year (2009). ZS-FRJ was strictly passenger and being fitted out originally for Swissair, had 28 seats and a passenger, not cargo, door.
My favourite Dakota was ZS-EKK. It had 36 seats, a cargo door, and rear galley. I remember having blue seat covers made for EKK and two large nylon cargo nets made to carry newspapers when the seats were removed. ZS-EKK also had a ‘Rhodesian Air Services’ insignia on the cockpit door. I still have a ‘Rhodesian Air Services’ and original ‘Swazi Air’ table stands flags. I did make a 8mm movie that included EKK during 1974 but just cannot find it.
Over the years, I lost touch with most of the NAC and Protea flight crew – Captain Lewis, Captain Len Moran, Captain Vic Fouche (died in a car accident), Captain Jan Bakker, ‘Casey’ Wilford (married Eddie Koller’s daughter), Ian Domissa (became SAA chief pilot I believe). I last met Captain Roy Matthews at his farm near Lanseria in December 2003 to chat about old times and the ZS-DKR crash. He was ill but still hoped to continue flying. Roy died of cancer two months later.
I was Manager South Africa for Royal Swazi Airways from the year of its inauguration in 1978 until the Swazi government gave away its schedule rights that we had nurtured and developed for twenty years in 1998. I had a few very memorable incidents involving our Fokker F28 – the abortive Seychelles coup and the Maputo-Jo’burg skyjacking.
If there is anything that I can help with, please ask.