Joburg's First International Terminal

The construction of the Rand Airport began in 1920. Eleven years later, it officially opened as the first international airport in Germiston. This terminal quickly became a central hub due to its close proximity to the central city. Eventually, SAA moved its headquarters here from Durban as it became South Africa's main international airport.

Serving as South Africa's central travel hub until 1948, the Rand Airport also played a vital role as a service base for the South African Air Force during WWII. Some of the Harvards used in battle remain in hangars built during WWII at the Rand Airport to this day and are used in aerial displays.

Sadly, when international travel in and out of the country boomed, the Rand Airport's runways could no longer accommodate the bigger aircrafts, like the Avro York Aircraft. As such, airlines relocated to Palmietfontein Airport situated in the south of Johannesburg.

Nevertheless, due to its pivotal role in civil aviation history in South Africa, the main terminal building at the Rand Airport was declared a National Heritage Site. If you have an interest in anything to do with the history of travel in the country, the Rand Airport is a must-visit. Take a short trip into Germiston to go on a journey back in time!

Rand airport

Preserving Civil Aviation History

The Rand Airport was privatised in 2000 after losing its status as an international airport the year before. It now functions as a private facility and training centre for young pilots. The airport is also open to the public, offering a range of displays and family-fun activities to make your trip well worth the while. The South African Airways Museum Society is located at the airport, situated inside the old Transvaal Aviation Club building, which is also a National Heritage Site. A famous drinking hole for many aviators through the years, the building was once the Mess for the officers of the SAAF. The SAA Museum Society hosts two main attractions at the Rand Airport:

Aircraft Park

The Rand Airport donated a tract of land nearby to Runway 29 for the SAA Museum Society's static aircraft display. Visitors are able to 'step aboard' a few of the aircrafts and even take a peek into the cockpit. You may wander freely through aircraft park or book a guided tour to learn detailed facts about each aircraft.

Display Museum

Located within the TAC building is the SAA Museum Society's display showcase. Here, you can view a range of historic items, including photographs, aircraft models, crew uniforms, aircraft instruments, timetables, small artefacts and general civil aviation memorabilia. There is also a museum shop located in the same building, where you can purchase a memento of your trip to the Rand Airport.

Photo credit: Bruce Perkins

Family Fun

The Rand Airport is the ideal place to take the kids for a weekend outing. Besides the SAA Museum and Aircraft Park, there are also a number of family-friendly activities here to keep the whole brood entertained.

Harvard Cafe

Pop by Harvard Cafe located at the rear side of the TAC building. With amusement rides, a jungle gym and kiddie sized runway, this is the ideal place to stop for refreshments after a busy day admiring the historic aircraft. Their menu features a wide array of choices, however their buffet breakfast is the standout feature. Pile up the eggs and sausage and watch as junior pilots take to the skies just a few metres away.

The Rand Air Show

Germiston residents flock to the Rand Airport come spring time, as the annual Rand Air Show takes place. A grand showcase of civil aviation and aeronautics, the Rand Air Show is the ultimate family-fun event. Come and see the grand exhibition of helicopters, aerobatics, military display and war birds this coming September.

For More Information

For more information about the Rand Airport, its history and displays, visit their website - www.randairport.co.za.

Details: +27 11 827 8884 | [email protected] | Main Terminal Building, Rand Airport Rd, Germiston.

Germiston, named after the Glaswegian farm, was established shortly after the gold rush on the Witwatersrand. Declared a city in 1950, it is often overlooked for being an industrial hub rather than a must-visit Jozi suburb. However, there is much to be seen and done here, if one only looks close enough. Driving through the 'old' town offers a glimpse of history, as century-old buildings stand tall among new developments. Keep an eye out for St Andrew's Presbyterian Church (built in 1905) and St Boniface Anglican Church (built in 1910). With their brick facades and stained-glass panels, these national landmarks are a sight to behold amidst the vapid decay of the inner city.

Germiston

Nevertheless, once you have passed through the Germiston CBD, a world of fun, food and excitement awaits. We did a little exploring on your behalf, making sure to find all the 'hot-spots' around town. Read on to find out what we uncovered:

The Rand Airport

One of the main attractions in Germiston is the Rand Airport. South Africa's first international airport, the Rand Airport was officially completed in 1931. The terminal served as the hub of international travel until 1948, when it was outgrown by the demand for flights in and out of Johannesburg by local and international fliers. Due to its rich history, the terminal building was later declared a national heritage site.

Today, the Rand Airport still houses numerous flying academies and is the host of the annual Rand Air Show. Most Germiston residents have attended this show at least once, flocking to see the magic of civil aviation right at their doorsteps. However, you need not wait around until late August to visit the Rand Airport, as there are many other attractions to behold year round.

Pop into the Harvard Cafe for a delicious family-friendly lunch - from here you can see pilots in training test their skills, while the kiddies have a ball playing on the nearby jungle gyms. You can also stop by The South African Airways Museum Society. Here, you will find an amazing collection of treasures, including aircrafts, photographs, models, crew uniforms, aircraft instruments, timetables and small artefacts of SAA and general civil aviation memorabilia.

Victoria Lake

Just a stone's throw away from the Rand Airport is Victoria Lake, otherwise known as Germiston Lake. This man-made body of water hosts regular school regattas and Scout's events. However, the main draw card for most visitors is the Germiston Country Club and Golf Course, located on the banks of the lake. Established in 1897, the Germiston Golf Club is steeped in history and 'Old English' tradition. Come and tee off at this woodland golf course, which is lauded as one of the finest in Gauteng. Play is open to the public, so you can pop by whenever the mood takes you. Afterwards, enjoy a few lakeside sundowners at the on-site bar.

Germiston

Frida's Coffee Bar

Heading a little further into the south-east side of Germiston, we came across a true hidden gem. Frida's Coffee Bar is an unassuming coffee shop and Tex-Mex eatery decorated in loving tribute to the artist, Frida Kahlo. This artsy little hideaway is the perfect spot for late afternoon coffee and a divine slice of death by chocolate cake. Take a seat outside in their hollowed out swimming pool or pop down on a luxurious couch next to a stack of books about art, music and, of course, the infamous Frida herself.

Simply Majestic Nursery 

We have saved the best for last with this lovely Germiston nursery, restaurant and retail centre. Simply Majestic Nursery is the ultimate family-friendly venue, with fun rides and play areas for the kids, as well as a garden centre and trinket shops for parents. Visit their Edwardian-style restaurant for Sunday brunch with the family. Their traditional scones served with cream and strawberry jam are amazing! The venue also hosts a monthly night craft market, supporting small local businesses and crafters. Pop in for a piping hot cup of coffee or craft beer under the moonlight.

Do you know of any other hidden gems located in Germiston? Let us know about them!