Col Sexwale, Honorary Colonel of the SAAF Museum visited the Museum on Saturday, 7 July, with him Col Rama Iyer, pilot of the Vampire and Lt Col Mike O'Connor Officer Commanding of the South African Air Force Museum

Aviation enthusiasts attending the South African Air Force Museum's monthly flying day, at Zwartkop Air Force Base, had an unexpected treat when the museum's honorary colonel, Tokyo Sexwale, arrived and was taken up in one of the historic fighter jets. After the flight, an elated Sexwale posed for photographs and joked that he had brought the plane back safely. Sexwale was a passenger in the two-seater De Havilland Vampire flown by its regular pilot, Colonel Rama Iyer. Sexwale, who is also Minister for Human Settlements, has a passion for aviation and has held the position of honorary colonel since 2001. The museum's Lieutenant Colonel, Clive Shepherd, explained that the practice of conferring the title of honorary colonel had its roots in British tradition. This is not to be confused with the military rank of colonel. Honorary colonels do not get paid a salary and are usually prominent civilians who promote the reputation of the unit to which they are attached. They often help raise funds to improve facilities at the unit. Colonel Shepherd said that, currently, one of Sexwale's projects was to get a businessman and a school to adopt an aircraft. The museum, which has a limited budget, has many static exhibits, which need to be washed, painted and kept in good condition on a regular basis. Another plan championed by Sexwale was to identify key people in the foreign diplomatic missions who could assist the museum with spare parts for aircraft manufactured in that country. Shepherd said they were giving high priority to the flying Mirages that were manufactured in France, of which the museum has several. Another aircraft singled out for such support could be the CASA 235 transport aircraft which was built in Spain. Shepherd said the very first example of this aircraft was due to arrive at the museum on July 18.

Janet Szabo, SABC