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October 12, 2016

Review: Flying the DC-4 Skymaster in South Africa

Flying the DC-4 Skymaster in South Africa

Flying the DC-4 Skymaster in South Africa

Flying the DC-4 Skymaster in South Africa

 

Step aboard an era when flying was an elegant affair...

Powered by four Pratt & Whitney R2000 radial piston engines, ZS-AUB and ZS-BMH are two of the very few passenger-licensed Douglas DC-4 Skymasters operating in the world today and are great favourites among aviation enthusiasts and travelling public.

Skyclass Aviation, operators of the South African Airways Museum Society's classic propeller driven airliners, specializes in supplying tailor-made air charter services to the tourism and corporate market both in South Africa and Internationally.

The aircraft seat 50 passengers each, in a Business Class configuration. The Classic Airliner charter business provides a product and service which is unique as passengers are treated to unforgettable fun-filled adventures combined with the charm and elegance of first-class classic airline travel from a bygone era provided by personnel who are fanatical about the well-being and comfort of their passengers.

Recently, I made a trip to South Africa just to fly on the DC-4 classic! It is certainly an attraction with its own right!

I have two perfect DC-4 flight in September 2016 from Johannesburg Rand Airport to the Africa Airspace and Defense Show (AAD) show in Waterkloof Air Force Base and back.

 

Date: 17 Sep 2016

Departure time 7am

Johannesburg Rand Airport to Waterkloof AFB

ZS-AUB

"Outeniqua"

Flying time: Scheduled 10 minutes, Actual 30 minutes at 8,000 feet, speed 165 knots

Video

 

Both DC-4 (ZS-AUB and ZS-BMH) is on the ramp at Rand Airport that morning ready for flights to Waterkloof AFB.

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Another classic DC-3 Dakota is also on the ramp being prepared for flight to Waterkloof AFB.

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Interior of the DC-4, feature 50 Business Class seats.

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Ceiling fan nozzle

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Window with curtain, very nostalgic...

The four Pratt & Whitney R2000 radial piston engines came to live one by one, with lovely low bass sounds.....

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The DC-4 1009 was produced at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant at Santa Monica, California.

The aircraft was delivered to South African Airways on the 10th of May 1946 and registered ZS-AUB and named “Outeniqua”.

The aircraft was subsequently donated to the SAA Museum Society at the end of 2007.

I was sited in the first row, which offer great engine and wing view.

Please see the video for the amazing Prop sounds of the DC-4 Skymaster.

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We were cruising fairly low given Johannesburg is over 5,000 feet above sea level, our flight cruising level was only at 8,000 feet.

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Full flight plus 1 infant onboard.

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Over the suburbs before arriving at Waterkloof AFB.

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A quick look at the rear before deplane

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2 Toilets at the back.

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Toilets have been re-modeled.

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The DC-4 is powered by four Pratt & Whitney R2000 radial piston engines.

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Cockpit of ZS-AUB

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After a day spent at the Africa Aerospace and Defense Airshow, we fly back to Rand Airport at 3:30pm

 Waterkloof AFB to Johannesburg Rand Airport

ZS-AUB

"Outeniqua"

Flying time: About 20 minutes include a spectacular low level (200 feet) fly pass after takeoff...

Video

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We did a close circuit after takeoff and then flew past the Waterkloof AFB at 200 feet!

It was really spectacular onboard! (See the Video)

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During our flight, we caught up with another DC-3 in mid-air!

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The rest of the flight was spent looking at many amazing villas and mansions of North Johannesburg suburbs.

Little did I know it was so green looking down, I was told that Johannesburg was built in a forest.

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The weather has cleared up in Johannesburg and we have a fabulous landing.

Our DC-4 parked facing the original 1920 Rand Airport Terminal, which was constructed as the main airport for Jo'burg.

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African sun with Orange Tail!

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A photo with SAA Museum volunteer and my good friend Joppie and Samuel.

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"Outeniqua" in all her glory form sitting on the ramp!

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-AUB

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-AUB

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-AUB "Outeniqua"

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-AUB "Outeniqua"

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-AUB "Outeniqua"

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-AUB "Outeniqua"

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-AUB "Outeniqua"

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-AUB "Outeniqua"

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-AUB "Outeniqua"

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-AUB "Outeniqua"

Meanwhile, her sistership "Lebombo" has arrived few minutes after us.

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-BMH "Lebombo"

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-BMH "Lebombo"

 

The 2 amazing last DC-4 Skymaster together under South Africa Sun...

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-BMH "Lebombo"

DC-4 Skymaster ZS-BMH "Lebombo" and ZS-AUB "Outeniqua"

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Summary

"Jets are for kids, propliners are the real deal!" I can honestly say this is quite true after 2 wonderful flights on the DC-4 Skymaster. The prop sounds are like music to ears. The flight are very comfortable, stable and resembles another flying era bygone. I wholeheartly recommend the DC-4 flight to anyone who haven't done it!

Video

Recommendation:

South African Airways Museum at Rand Airport has an amazing collection of aircraft operated by SAA include B747-SP, B747-200, B737-200, Junkers 52, Lockheed Starliners, Lockheed Lodestar, de Havilland Dove. They also feature a great display hall section and simulators. It is my top recommendation for a visit if you're in Johannesburg area.

Opportunity to fly the DC-4

Want to have an unique opportunity to fly the DC-4 along with DC-3 and Beech-18 vintage planes?

Check out the upcoming Aviation Tour in May 2017.

Tips on Smart Travel and finding the best airfare

I use Momondo to search extensively across the best airfare before buying it. Have a look at this post to see how it is working for getting a cheaper ticket! Momondo definitely features the best First and Business Class deals of any Flight Search Engine out there.  I have put together many useful travel tips and airfare promotions in my Smart Travel section to guide you travel in more luxury with lower price!

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