tbabplane1

By the time the fourth engine roars to life the earth trembles.
The only airworthy Shackleton in the world and the pride of South African aviation, was permitted a ground run this Saturday in front of about 50 admirers.
A ground run for this monster aeroplane isn’t necessarily unique at Ysterplaat Air Force Base, but it is nonetheless an experience that is sure to stay with observers for a long time.
Once a month the four engines are started as a mechanical imperative.
During the run TygerBurger spoke to museologist Chris Teale, a passionate man who flew in the Shackleton countless times.
He was, in fact, one of the lucky few who were on the plane during it’s very last flight in 2008.
“It was very emotional,” says Teale while swallowing a lump in his throat.
“We flew on a Saturday… We didn’t even tell the public it was the last flight.”
He looks at the huge aircraft with love.
“A friend of mine and a patron of the museum and the Shackleton, Elmien Steyn, touched this aircraft and said it has a spirit. That it was alive…”
Teale couldn’t say enough about the majestic Shackleton during the interview.
Both he and the aircraft are 57 years old.
“The heyday was from 1957 to 1984. Her biggest role wasn’t offensive in any way, despite the fact that she was built as a maritime attack aircraft. Strangely enough her greatest role was always search and rescue. She has 24-hour endurance! One day we took off from here before the sun came up and flew right around the borders of South Africa. From Cape Town up the East coast, around the borders of the country and down the West Coast. We saw the sun set that same day!”
Teale introduced the whole Shackleton team and every single one would love to see it fly again. But they all agree with Henry James Potgieter, the chief engineer who has worked on the Shackleton for decades (since 1959).
He is apparently the longest serving Shackleton flight engineer in the world.
He glows with pride when he points out that on the side of the aircraft, the plane’s name reads “Pottie’s Private Bomber”.
The reason why it would probably never fly again is because of it’s priceless value, and if something had to happen a large piece of history would be wiped from the planet.
Most of the last Saturdays of the month it undergoes a ground run and everyone is invited to witness this remarkable and deafening event. One can also make much-needed donations to keep it in a working condition.
***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE AND PHOTO WERE PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. NEITHER MAY BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***

 

 

Advertisements