Home DC-3 South African operators Suidair

 Douglas DC-3 and C-47 Operators and Owners in South Africa



By Ken Fuller

Two former S.A.A.F. pilots Harry Hill and Stan Clegg had shares in Suidair. They operated Dakotas and Vikings and leased a Bristol Wayfarer ZS-BOM from Seair Services Ltd, a company that acted for shippers of airfreight. In 1948 they also started a de Havilland Rapide feeder service connecting Rustenburg, Warmbaths, Potgietersrus, Pietersburg, Messina, and later Margate.
In 1949 in a major reorganisation Colonel Bob Preller and a Mr F.W. Holshutter who was instrumental in putting Eastern Airlines of America on a firm footing before the War joined as executives. Col. Preller after leaving the S.A.A.F. had considerable experience with T.A.C.A. in South America and with K.L.M. on the West Indies route. Captain H. Hill resigned from the position of Managing Director but continued to serve on the board. Bob Preller was to become joint Operations Manager together with Stan Clegg.
Suidair moved its base from Wonderboom to Rand Airport acquiring the buildings at the back of the Rand Flying Club. Suidair also bought out South West Africa Air Transport and installed the only privately owned Link Trainer in Africa in its headquarters in Johannesburg. In nine months the trainer had been used for just over 1000 hours and even Pan American crews were sent there for instrument training.
One of their Dakotas ZS-BJZ was to make a (belly flop) in a Congo Swamp. An outstanding feat of salvage was completed in August 1947 when the aircraft was successfully flown out after building a road for the aircraft and draining the swamps.
One of the colourful characters that also flew for Suidair was Leo Siegerkranz. He was a Finn and the story goes he jumped ship during the war to join the S.A.A.F.
On take off at Kasama he flew through the top of a clump of trees at the end of the runway and on landing at Nairobi ground crew discovered foliage and small branches wrapped around the struts of the under carriage. He calmly said he hit a bird, it was sitting in a tree.
Carl Reck remembers a flight to Athens where in bad weather the skill of the Radio Officer Ted Broome saved them from certain collision with a mountain. This was not the first time that Ted had averted what could have been a fatal accident.
On another occasion Carl was working at night on an engine at Lydda in Israel when an Israeli Soldier asked him to switch off his torch as the Jordanians are "shooting at us”.
They wisely hastily took off for Cyprus and flew to safety.
Ted Broome tells the story that on a flight to Lydda via Jedda with Haj pilgrims and seven transit Jewish passengers on board that on arrival at Jedda the Jewish passengers were jailed even though permission had been obtained for them to transit Jedda.
The crew were told they could depart but Capt. Cecil Snelgar would not leave them to God knows what fate. So the crew moved into the Arameo (Oil Company) mess, for an indefinite stay.
Thanks to the British Consul the unfortunate passengers were later released and flown back to Johannesburg. Suidair went into Liquidation and ceased to operate as from 1-Nov-1950.
Stan co-founder of Suidair tragically later lost his life in a freak accident when the de Havilland Dove he was flying for United broke up in mid air.


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