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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Main Terminal Building, Rand Airport Rd, Germiston.