trek airways south africa

TREK AIRWAYS (PTY.), LTD.: South Africa (1953-1976)

Equipped with a Douglas DC-3 acquired for it in the U. K. by subsidiary Meredith Air Transport, Ltd., this charter operator is reformed by Tom Meredith, Jock Hamilton, and five colleagues from Tropic Airways (Pty.), Ltd. in May 1953. Revenue flights are inaugurated to Amsterdam from Johannesburg on December 21.

In August 1954, charter services similar to those flown earlier by TA are initiated to such northern European communities as Dusseldorf and London via Entebbe, Cairo, Malta, Zurich, or Vienna from East Africa and from Leopoldville, Kano, and Palma de Majorca from the West Africa. Two Vickers 498 Viking 1s are purchased from Airwork, Ltd. in October and November, one of which is named Louis Trichardt.

A third Viking 1, the Piet Retief, is acquired in late 1955, and the three continue to make the five monthly roundtrips that each are permitted by the National Transportation Commission to fly to Europe.

Two Douglas DC-4s are purchased in December 1957 from Northwest Airlines. They enter service in April 1958, at which point the Vikings are removed from scheduled flights and assigned to operate charters. The domestic South African charter subsidiary Protea Airways (Pty.) Ltd. is created later the same year.

Low fare passenger service is introduced in 1959 by General Manager

P. C. E. Gratz’s carrier, bringing considerable success. Routes are extended twice weekly from Johannesburg to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Rome, and Athens via Entebbe, Wadi Halfa, and Malta.

A DC-4 with 6 crew and 61 passengers makes a forced landing near El Badary, Egypt, on September 3, 1960; although the aircraft is a total loss, there are no fatalities.

Two Lockheed L-749As, including one named the Andries Pretorius, are leased from South African Airways (Pty.), Ltd. in December 1961, while the remaining DC-4 is sold to Luxair, S. A. In order to avoid being shut out from a Continental destination when its traffic rights to Dus-seldorf expire in May 1962, Trek inaugurates roundtrips to Luxembourg in February. The company will remain the designated South African carrier on that route for its entire history.

When the nations of Black Africa begin to ban South African aircraft from their airspace during the summer of 1963, Trek returns its two Constellations to SAA in August. Beginning in October and continuing for the remainder of the year, DC-6Bs are leased from UAT (Union Aeromaritime de France, S. A.).

Two L-1049A Starliners, formerly operated by Deutsche Lufthansa, A. G., are acquired in February and March 1964. These long-legged piston airliners allow Trek to continue service to Europe via the West African coast in a manner similar to the Springbok services provided by

South African Airways (Pty.), Ltd. Technical stops are available at Windhoek, Luanda, and Ilha do Sal.

A cooperative agreement is signed with Luxair, S. A. and under its terms, joint operations of the new Lockheeds commence in April, with the European line providing connecting service from Luxembourg onward to London. One of the Starliners is transferred to Luxair, which, not having been banned from the routes, can fly in any African airspace.

Shareholding is revised in early 1965 to include Rentmeester Beleg-gings (Pty.), Ltd. (40%), South African Marine Corporation (Pty.), Ltd. (Safmarine) (25%), and private interests (35%). Airline employment is now 130. On May 7, on behalf of South African Airways (Pty.), Ltd., the company begins roundtrip Wallaby route flights once every two weeks from Johannesburg to Perth via Mauritius and the Cocos Islands.

With the flag carrier also providing a service every two weeks, South Africa is able to match the trans-Indian Ocean Wallaby frequencies of Qantas Empire Airways (Pty.), Ltd. These flights continue until September, when SAA is able to place additional Douglas DC-7Bs on the run. Enplanements for the year are 10,094.

Starliner flights commence on February 15, 1966, from Johannesburg to Rio de Janeiro via Luanda. This is the first nonstop commercial service across the South Atlantic by a South African airline.

A third L-1649A Starliner and an L-1049E Super Constellation are purchased from Air France in April. It is employed, beginning on July 5, to operate a weekly roundtrip from Johannesburg to Tokyo, via Mauritius, Colombo, and Hong Kong.

Authority for 10 additional European roundtrips is granted by the South African government in 1967. An order is sent to Boeing for a B-707-320B Stratoliner.

After the tragic loss of a SAA B-707-344C, with 123 killed, at Windhoek on April 20, 1968, Trek volunteers to give its place on the Boeing assembly line to South African Airways (Pty.), Ltd. The state carrier promises to turn over one of its older Boeings as soon as the new plane arrives from Washington State.

A Bristol Britannia is leased in June to undertake the Luxembourg service; however, one Starliner is retained in front line service to operate the connecting service for Luxair, S. A. to London through September 30. At this point, all three of the Starliners are converted into freighters.

A B-707-348, wearing its own livery and Luxair, S. A. stickers, is leased from Aer Lingus Irish Airlines, Ltd. and enters service from Johannesburg on October 22.

South African Airways (Pty.), Ltd., in accordance with its pledge the previous April, turns over a B-707-344B on May 30, 1969.

A former Qantas Airways (Pty.), Ltd. Boeing 707-138B is purchased during the early 1970s and a second B-707-138B is acquired in 1974. The company ceases operations in the spring of 1976 and the Boeings and Starliners are passed to Luxair, S. A., to which many employees migrate as well. After Trek Airways shuts down, the subsidiary Protea Airways (Pty.), Ltd. soldiers on alone until rising expenses (led by fuel costs) force the company out of business in 1980.

When the South African domestic independent Flitestar, Ltd. is created in 1991, the shareholders, Rentmeester Investments and Muelkin & Safmarine, will name their holding company in honor of this charter pioneer.

TRI AIR: United States (1987-1989). Taking a leaf from the book of Jetstream International Airlines, Tri Air, established at Hyannis, Massachusetts, in March 1987, is named in honor of its aircraft. Employing a three-motor Pilatus-Britten-Norman PBN-2A Trislander, daily roundtrips are inaugurated on April 1 linking the company’s base with Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Operations continue apace until August 1989.

TRI STAR AVIATION: Box 88, Weyers Cave, Virginia, 24486, United States; Phone (540) 234-8998; Fax (540) 234-9901; Year Founded 1984. Tri Star is established by Marvin Shank in 1984 to offer on demand FAAPart 135 air taxi flights, cargo operations, and also to engage in aircraft management.

By 2000, Shank oversees the flights of 1 each Beech King Air 90, Cessna 414 Conquest, C-421, and Piper PA-23 Aztec. Revenues reach $300,000.

TRI-STATE AIRLINES: United States (1982-1984). Tri-State is established at White Lake, New York, in 1982. Employing a fleet of 3 Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains, the third-level operator undertakes scheduled passenger and cargo services, expanding, during the remainder of the year and into 1983 to Albany, Binghamton, Montgomery, Monticello, Poughkeepsie, Manchester, Harrisburg, Nantucket, New Bedford, and Newark.

Rapid growth and recession contribute to hurt income in 1984 and all routes are suspended in August except those to Nantucket, Newark, and Manchester. These and other cost-cutting measures do not help and the carrier shuts down in the fall.

TRI-STATE AVIATION: United States (1969-1978). Tri State is established by Carlton Clark as the FBO at Huntington, West Virginia. In the fall of 1969, Edward Hyman and Morris Griffiths establish a company airline division to provide scheduled passenger and cargo services to Colubus and Cincinnati. Aero Commander 500B and Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander daily roundtrips commence in November, but only continue through May 1970.

TRIAX AIR, LTD.: 1 Kings Road, New Haven, Enugu, Nigeria; Phone 234 (42) 337 777; Code TIX; Year Founded 1992. Triax is established as a subsidiary of Prince Arthur Eze’s Triax Group at Enugu Airport in October 1992 to offer passenger charter flights to destinations throughout Africa and the Mideast. Revenue operations commence on November 17 with a single Boeing 727-82. In 1993, a leased B-727-264 is placed into service.

Flights continue in 1994-2000, during which years Chairman Eze and General Manager Capt. D. Okatachi acquire a B-727-22. Destinations now visited include Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Owem.

TRICON INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES: United States (19681975). Tricon is established at Dallas (DAL) in 1968 to provide scheduled passenger and cargo services to regional destinations. Employing a Beech 18, daily roundtrips are duly inaugurated, linking the company’s base with Shreveport, Longview, Tyler, Waco, Temple, and Austin.

Operations continue apace until 1975.

TRIGANA AIR SERVICE: Mendawai No. 40, Kebayoran, Jakarta-Selatan, Indonesia; Phone 62 (21) 772 337; Fax 62 (21) 772 337; Http://www. geocities. com/WaUStreet/5470/indo. htm ; Year Founded 1992. TAS is established at Jakarta in the fall of 1992 to offer domestic scheduled and charter passenger and cargo services. Operations commence with a fleet that includes 3 Beech Super King Air 200s, 2 de Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otters, and 3 Fokker F.27-600 Friendships.

A DHC-6-100 with two crew fails its takeoff from Pogapa on December 8 and crashes; although the freighter is damaged, there are no fatalities.

Flights continue without incident in 1993, but not in 1994. Another DHC-6, a Dash-300 with two crew and two passengers, crashes into a cloud-shrouded mountain ridge at the 7,050-ft. level near Nabire, Papua New Guinea, on November 4; there are no survivors.

Flights continue in 1993-2000, during which years an F.28-4000 jetliner is also employed. There are numerous accidents.

While taxiing at Jakarta on May 14, 1996, the No. 1 propeller of the Fokker F.27-600 Jayapura chews into the right wing of a parked F.28. Both aircraft are damaged, but repairable.

Just after landing at Ilaga on September 30, a DHC-6-300 with two crew and three passengers overruns the runway and falls over an embankment; although the aircraft must be written off, there are no fatalities.

Just after takeoff from Bandung on a July 17, 1997, service to Jakarta, the F.27-600 Jayapura with 5 crew and 45 passengers and leased to Sempati Air, develops engine problems and begins trailing smoke. The pilot attempts to make an emergency landing at Sulaiman AFB, but instead, hits the roofs of houses in a residential area and crashes into a muddy field (29 dead).

TRILLIUM AIR, LTD.: Waterloo Regional Airport, P. O. Box. 70, Breslau, Ontario N0B 1M0, Canada; Phone (519) 648-1204; Fax (519) 648-1208; Http://www. trilliumair. com ; Year Founded 2000.

Trillium is established at Waterloo Regional Airport in June 2000 as a subsidiary of Pem Air, Ltd. Daily Jetstream 31 roundtrips are initiated connecting Kitchener and Waterloo with Ottawa. At the end of October, the schedule becomes twice daily.

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Trek Airways (Trek Lugdiens)

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Trek Airways was formed in 1953 and was the only South African airline apart from SAA to fly international services. Ceased operations on 11Apr1994 and was liquidated ~ at the beginning, flights were operated from Europe to South Africa with one over-night stop


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Trek Airways

Trek Airways was an airline based in South Africa that operated from August 1953 until April 1994.

Fleet details

Bibliography, external links.

Trek Airways Boeing 747SP. Trek Airways Boeing 747SP Krier.jpg

Founded in 1953 by retired German Generalmajor Friedrich Wilhelm von Mellenthin (1904–1997), Trek Airways was the only South African airline apart from SAA to fly international services. At the beginning, flights were operated from Europe to South Africa with one over-night stop. The aircraft used at the time was the Vickers VC.1 Viking . Since the Viking did not have the range for the operations, they were replaced by the Douglas DC-4 and Lockheed L-749A Constellation . Later on it operated the Lockheed L-1649 Starliner .

Trek operated from London , Düsseldorf , Vienna and Luxembourg to Windhoek and Johannesburg with two or three intermediate stops. [1] In 1964 an arrangement with Luxair was made whereby Luxair would carry connecting passengers to other European airports.

It was in 1968 that the first jet aircraft was used when a Boeing 707 was introduced, but with the embargo of South African registered aircraft due to Apartheid Trek had to suspend flights for a period of time. Those operations were re-established in 1991 and once again a co-operation with Luxair was established whereby Trek used a Luxair/Luxavia Boeing 747SP painted in the old Trek color scheme. It was also during this time that Trek founded a subsidiary called Flitestar using Airbus A320 and ATR-72 aircraft. In 1991, politics changed again and the South African Government deregulated its aviation policy. Trek Airways applied for and was granted a license for a South African domestic service, in direct competition to SAA . Flitestar was born operating Airbus A320s. On 11 April 1994, Trek ceased all operations. [2]

  • Vickers VC.1 Viking
  • Douglas DC-4
  • Lockheed L-749A Constellation
  • Lockheed L-1649 Starliner
  • Boeing 747-SP
  • William Buckland "Paddy" Rorke: Trek Airways – A South African Adventure , Athena Press, 2007

Related Research Articles

South African Airways ( SAA ) is the flag carrier airline of South Africa. Founded in 1934, the airline is headquartered in Airways Park at O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and operated a hub-and-spoke network, serving ten destinations in Africa. The carrier joined Star Alliance in April 2006, making it the first African carrier to sign with one of the three major airline alliances.

Iraqi Airways Company , operating as Iraqi Airways , is the national carrier of Iraq, headquartered on the grounds of Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad. It is the second oldest airline in the Middle East. Iraqi Airways operates domestic and regional services; its main base is Baghdad International Airport.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lockheed Constellation</span> Family of US airliners with 4 piston engines, 1943

The Lockheed Constellation (" Connie ") is a propeller-driven, four-engined airliner built by Lockheed Corporation starting in 1943. The Constellation series was the first pressurized-cabin civil airliner series to go into widespread use. Its pressurized cabin enabled commercial passengers to fly well above most bad weather for the first time, thus significantly improving the general safety and ease of air travel.

Luxair , legally Luxair S.A., Société Luxembourgeoise de Navigation Aérienne , is the flag carrier airline of Luxembourg with its headquarters and hub at Luxembourg Airport. It operates scheduled services to destinations in Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean and Middle East with additional charter and seasonal services. It is Luxembourg's only passenger-carrying airline offering regular, non-charter service.

Middle East Airlines – Air Liban S.A.L. , more commonly known as Middle East Airlines (MEA) , is the national flag-carrier airline of Lebanon, with its head office in Beirut, near Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport. It operates scheduled international flights to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa from its base at Rafic Hariri International Airport.

Trans International Airlines ( TIA ) was an airline that offered charter service from and within the United States. It also operated scheduled passenger service flying as Transamerica Airlines as well as charter flights during its last decade. Its headquarters were on the grounds of Oakland International Airport (OAK) in Oakland, California.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rand Airport</span> General aviation airport of Johannesburg; in Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa

Rand Airport is an airport in Germiston, South Africa. It was constructed in the 1920s as the main airport for Johannesburg, but the city outgrew it and replaced the airport with Palmietfontein Airport in 1948.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nigeria Airways</span> Defunct airline

Nigeria Airways Ltd. , more commonly known as Nigeria Airways , was a Nigerian airline. The company was founded in 1958 after the dissolution of West African Airways Corporation (WAAC). It held the name West African Airways Corporation Nigeria until 1971, when it was rebranded to the name it had until it ceased operations in 2003. The government of Nigeria owned a majority of the airline (51%) until 1961, when it boosted its shareholding in the company to 100% and made it the country's flag carrier. At the time of dissolution, the airline's headquarters were at Airways House in Abuja. Operations were concentrated at Murtala Muhammed International Airport and served both domestic and international destinations mainly concentrated in West Africa; the network also had points in Europe, North America and Saudi Arabia. The airline was managed by a number of foreign companies, including British Airways, KLM and South African Airways.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boeing 747SP</span> Shortened modification of a Boeing 747

The Boeing 747SP is a shortened version of the Boeing 747 wide-body airliner, designed for a longer range. Boeing needed a smaller aircraft to compete with the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 TriStar tri-jet wide-bodies, introduced in 1971/1972. Pan Am requested a 747-100 derivative to fly between New York and the Middle East, a request also shared by Iran Air, and the first order came from Pan Am in 1973.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trans European Airways</span>

Trans European Airways , usually referred to by its initials TEA , was a Belgian airline that operated from 1971 to 1991. It had its head office in Building 117 on the grounds of Melsbroek Airport in Steenokkerzeel, Belgium.

Flitestar was a South African commercial airline that operated from 1991 to 1994.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lockheed C-121 Constellation</span> Military transport version of Constellation

The Lockheed C-121 Constellation is a military transport version of the Lockheed Constellation. A total of 332 aircraft were constructed for both the United States Air Force and United States Navy for various purposes. Numerous airborne early warning versions were also constructed. The C-121 later saw service with smaller civilian operators until 1993.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lockheed L-1649 Starliner</span> US airliner with 4 piston engines, 1956

The Lockheed L-1649 Starliner was the last model of the Lockheed Constellation line of airliners. Powered by four Wright R-3350 TurboCompound engines, it was built at Lockheed's Burbank, California plant from 1956 to 1958.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation</span> US airliner with 4 piston engines, 1951

The Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation is an American aircraft, a member of the Lockheed Constellation aircraft line. The L-1049 was Lockheed's response to the successful Douglas DC-6 airliner, first flying in 1950. The aircraft was also produced for both the United States Navy as the WV / R7V and U.S. Air Force as the C-121 for transport, electronics, and airborne early warning and control aircraft.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lockheed L-049 Constellation</span> US airliner with 4 piston engines, 1943

The Lockheed L-049 Constellation was the first model of the Lockheed Constellation aircraft line. It entered service as the C-69 military transport aircraft during World War II for the United States Army Air Forces and was the first civilian version after the war. When production ended in 1946 it was replaced by the improved L-649 and L-749 Constellation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lockheed L-649 Constellation</span> US airliner with 4 piston engines, 1946

The Lockheed L-649 Constellation was the first real civilian version of the Lockheed Constellation line, as the Lockheed L-049 Constellation was a simple redesign from the military Lockheed C-69 Constellation. The L-649 was planned to be the new standard version of the Constellation, but the L-749 Constellation, a co-jointly produced improved derivative, was chosen over the L-649 by most airlines. Most of the few L-649 aircraft built were delivered and operated by Eastern Air Lines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lockheed L-749 Constellation</span> First version of Constellation with the ability to cross the Atlantic non-stop

The Lockheed L-749 Constellation is the first Lockheed Constellation to regularly cross the Atlantic Ocean non-stop. Although similar in appearance to the L-649 before it, the L-749 had a larger fuel capacity, strengthened landing gear, and eventually weather radar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">South African Airways Museum Society</span> Aviation museum in Gauteng, South Africa

The South African Airways Museum Society is an aviation museum based at Rand Airport in Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa. The museum was founded in 1986 and houses a collection of South African Airways memorabilia such as photos and aircraft scale models. The museum also has a collection of static display aircraft including two Boeing 747s donated to them in 2004 and 2006. The museum is funded by entrance fees to the museum and by renting out the aircraft interiors for corporate functions. The flying aircraft of the museum are known as the South African Historic Flight collection, the aircraft are owned by the South African Airways Museum Society and are leased to the company Skyclass Aviation, who operate them for charter usage.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British Overseas Airways Corporation</span> Defunct state-owned airline of the United Kingdom (1939—1974)

British Overseas Airways Corporation ( BOAC ) was the British state-owned airline created in 1939 by the merger of Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd. It continued operating overseas services throughout World War II. After the passing of the Civil Aviation Act 1946, European and South American services passed to two further state-owned airlines, British European Airways (BEA) and British South American Airways (BSAA). BOAC absorbed BSAA in 1949, but BEA continued to operate British domestic and European routes for the next quarter century. A 1971 Act of Parliament merged BOAC and BEA, effective 31 March 1974, forming today's British Airways. For most of its history its main rival was Pan Am.

  • ↑ Trek Airways
  • ↑ Hengi, [ page   needed ]
  • TimeTableImages
  • Trek photos at AirnersNet
  • Trek/Lixavia history
  • DC-4 accident no fatalities
  • Trek Airways website in South Africa



History: trek airways (pty) ltd. was an airline based in south africa that operated from august 1953 until april 1994. founded in 1953, trek airways was the only south african airline apart from saa to fly international services. at the beginning, flights were operated from europe to south africa with one over-night stop. on 11 april 1994, trek ceased all operations..

trek airways south africa

13/1/1959 (From Maputo to Lisbon)

trek airways south africa

13/4/1963 (From Athens to Johannesburg)

trek airways south africa

Trek Airways

Trek Airways  was established on 23 September 1953 in Pretoria with the aim of running non-schedule, low-cost flights between South Africa and Europe. The first service from Rand Airport to Amsterdam was flown by a Douglas DC-3 on 20 December 1953. In 1954, Vickers Vikings were introduced and were followed by DC-4s in 1958.


cn2639 ZS-DBS Lockheed L749A Constellen of Trek Airways arriving from a South African journey in the summer of 1963. The two Connies assumed 4330 hours during their 20 months service with the airline. Zoggavia Collection,

In 1961, Trek Airways leased two Lockheed L749As from South African Airways to supplement their DC-4, which received LX registration. The first service was to Dusseldorf that same year. During 1962, Trek Airways ran up to eight flights monthly in each direction. The leased Connies flew the route from Johannesburg to Windhoek, Luanda, Kano, Malta, Vienna, and on to Luxembourg under a "Arial Cruise" ticket. They also flew via Entebbe, Cairo, Vienna, or Malta to Luxembourg based on a "Very-Low-Fare" ticket. However, a ban was imposed in August 1963 on South African registered aircraft landing at or overflying certain African countries, forcing Trek Airways to temporarily abandon the routes until longer-range aircraft could be found. The airline chartered DC-6s from UAT Aeromaritime and TAI until the first of two Lockheed Starliners was purchased from World Airways/Lufthansa and put into service. Trek Airways signed a cooperative agreement with Luxair, which allowed the Starliners to receive Luxair colors and LX- registrations. Luxair also provided a connecting Luxembourg-London Gatwick flight with the Super Stars, as they were called.


cn1042 ZS-DVJ Lockheed L1649A in Trek Lugdiens colors right after her arrvial from World Airways in 7 March 1964. Zoggavia Collection.

The first Starliner, fitted with 98 seats, flew the first service from Johannesburg, Luanda, and Cape Verde Island to Luxembourg on March 10, 1964. From May 7, 1964, to September 1965, Trek Airways operated a scheduled service from Johannesburg to Perth, Australia, via Mauritius and Cocos Islands for South African Airways. Trek Airways also received permission for non-scheduled round-the-world charter flights. The Starliners were a perfect fit thanks to their great range of 8000 km. The load factor on the Luxembourg-South African route reached an average of 99.5%.

On June 7, 1968, a leased Transglobe Britannia replaced the Starliners on the weekly Johannesburg-Luxembourg flight. However, Luxair kept one Starliner to operate the London-Luxembourg connecting flight until January 20, 1968. The two remaining Trek Airways L1649s served on charter flights within South Africa until the withdrawal of the final aircraft at the end of 1969. Due to political pressure, Trek Airways operated under a new name called Luxavia, with Boeing 707, and 747SP Jet aircraft until mid of the 1980s, when the airline ceased operations.

1041 1041 1042



Trek Airways Constellation Gallery

The Vickers Vikings of Trek Airways

ZS-DKH c/n 121 ZS-DKI c/n 124 "Louis Trichardt" ZS-DNU c/n 118 "Piet Retief"

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Trek airways: a south african adventure - softcover, rorke, william buckland.

9781844018581: Trek Airways: A South African Adventure

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  • Publisher Athena Press
  • Publication date 2007
  • ISBN 10  184401858X
  • ISBN 13  9781844018581
  • Binding Paperback
  • Number of pages 180

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Simple Flying

90 years old: south african airways celebrates a milestone.

Looking at the aircraft SAA has operated and where they are now.

  • South African Airways celebrates its 90th anniversary with a rich history of iconic aircraft, some of which are preserved at the SAA Museum.
  • The museum showcases SAA's development over the years and offers public viewing of the aircraft for educational and event purposes.
  • Notable aircraft in SAA's history include the Boeing 747-200, the Lockheed Constellation, the Douglas DC-3, the C-54 Skymaster, and the Airbus A350.

South Africa's national carrier is one of the oldest airlines in the world. Commencing services on February 1, 1934, South African Airways turns 90 years old today. While the last few years have been very turbulent for the airline , it has a rich history that has served many generations.

Over the last nine decades, the airline has operated some of the world's most iconic aircraft, flying on the most popular international routes. As the airline celebrates 90 years, let us explore some of the aircraft it has operated and where they are now.

South African Airways Museum

Situated at Rand Airport (QRA), about 15 mi (24 km) from Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) is the South African Airways Museum Society. It is home to several ex-SAA aircraft, airline artifacts, memorabilia, and other planes that helped shape the history of South African aviation. I had the chance to visit the institution last month.

The SAA Museum Society was founded in 1986 by individuals within the airline and other interested parties to preserve SAA's history and showcase the development of the country's aviation sector over the decades. The aircraft on static display are available for public viewing and are used for educational purposes and small functions like conferences, board meetings, and weddings.

South African Airways' Boeing 747s

The airline's history began 90 years ago when the South African government took over Union Airways and renamed it South African Airways. It honored its predecessor's order for three Junkers JU52 aircraft, delivered in October 1934 and entered service ten days later. While the airline operated several other revolutionary aircraft, one of the most notable to join its fleet was the Boeing 747 .

Boeing 747-200

On November 6, 1971, SAA took delivery of its first jumbo jet - a Boeing 747-200, registration ZS-SAN. It is nicknamed "Lebombo," a derivative of the Zulu word "Ubombo," meaning big nose. It is one of the two 747s on static display at the museum. It rolled out of production in August 1971 and was delivered to SAA with a spare engine under the left wing. It served in the airline's fleet for nearly 32 years, accumulating 107,689 flight hours across 20,304 cycles.

Although it welcomed 6 million passengers throughout its life, Lebombo is remembered for a special flight operated on June 24, 1995. On this day, it performed a flypast over Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg to open the Rugby World Cup final between South Africa's Springboks and New Zealand's All Blacks. One and a half hours later, South Africa won its first Rugby World Cup title. Interestingly, the 747 still has the words "Good Luck Bokke" inscribed under the wings and undercarriage.

Two South African Airways A340's Fly Meters Apart In Stunning Flyover

Boeing 747sp (1 of 45 built).

The second jumbo on display at the museum is a Boeing 747SP , registration ZS-SPC. It was built in 1976 and delivered to SAA in June of that year. The 747SP, developed for longer range, was a game-changer for South African Airways. ZS-SPC was flown from Boeing's Everett Factory in Seattle to Cape Town, South Africa, to demonstrate its long-range capabilities. The 8,870 NM (16,428 km) journey set a new world record for the longest un-refueled flight by a commercial aircraft.

These longer-range jumbos gradually replaced SAA's 707s on certain routes and allowed the introduction of flights to Taiwan. Throughout its history, South African Airways has operated 33 747s, including the -200B, -400, SP, and Combi variants. The airline lost one of its jumbos in a fatal disaster on November 28, 1987.

The Lockheed aircraft fleet

Going further back in history, South African Airways also had Lockheed aircraft in its fleet. Preserved at the museum is the iconic Lockheed Constellation ("Connie") , as well as the Model 18 Lodestar. During World War II, SAA ordered Lodestar aircraft from the USA. Having been delivered during a time of conflict, only the survivors saw service with the national airline towards the end of the war and beyond. Only 19 survived and were released by the South African Air Force (SAAF).

In 1945, the carrier launched its first intercontinental service, known as the "Springbok Service," between South Africa and the United Kingdom. The service took three days to complete, with a total flying time of about 34 hours. It flew on the Palmietfontein-Nairobi-Khartoum-Cairo-Castel Benito-Hurn Bournemouth route, with overnight stops in Nairobi and Cairo. In August 1950, SAA introduced four Lockheed Constellations on the Springbok service, reducing the London flying time to 28 hours.

The Lockheed L-1649 Starliner (ZS-DVJ) shown above was built in 1958 and first delivered to Lufthansa. It came to South Africa in 1964 and was operated by Trek Airways. It was leased by SAA in 1965. In 1966, it flew the first non-stop commercial Atlantic crossing by a South African operator, flying from Luanda to Rio de Janeiro. Later that year, it marked another milestone, making the first Far East landing by a South African carrier when it flew to Tokyo.

The Lockheed Constellation - The Plane That Changed The World

Saa's douglas aircraft, douglas dc-3 dakota.

The Douglas Aircraft Company planes also significantly influenced SAA's development. The DC-3 enjoyed an illustrious career with several South African operators. The South African Air Force was among the world's largest DC-3 operators, with over 80 examples. The first aircraft was delivered in 1943. During WWII, the SAAF used them to ferry troops and supplies.

The DC-3 was among the first aircraft to enter service with major airlines worldwide after the war , including South African Airways. The iconic aircraft served in SAA's fleet for nearly 25 years. The one preserved at the museum, registration ZS-BXF, and nickname "Klapperkop," was painted to represent the DC-3s that began service with the national carrier in the 1940s. It is 81 years old.

C-54 Skymaster

In the mid-1940s, SAA grew significantly, adding more aircraft, passengers, cargo, and staff. It took on more Skymasters and returned the Avro York aircraft leased from BOAC. In 1948, SAA debuted in-flight entertainment on the Skymaster, but it was unsuccessful and shortly discontinued. The C-54 (ZS-PAJ) sitting at the museum was donated in January 2006. It is 79 years old.

The World's Coolest McDonald's Is A DC-3 Airplane In New Zealand

Douglas dc-4 era.

The SAA Museum Society is also home to two Douglas DC-4s. The first one, registration ZS-AUB, was built in May 1946 and delivered to South African Airways. Nicknamed "Outeniqua," it has eight fuel tanks and was often used to ferry engines and engine change crews for SAA aircraft that had suffered engine problems, typically the DC-7Bs on the Australia service.

The second (ZS-BMH) was delivered to SAA in August 1947. It was the last DC-4 Skymaster of the Douglas factory production line. It served in SAA's fleet for nearly two decades before being sold to the Air Force. In 1977, it was leased by Safair, which used it to transport mine workers from neighboring states to South Africa.

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Current fleet

The SAA Museum also houses other models operated by the airline over the years. This includes a Boeing 737-200, the forward fuselage part of a B707, de Havilland DH.104, and a Vickers VC.1 Viking. After entering its jet age, the airline also introduced some Boeing 727s for use on regional and domestic routes. SAA also has an Airbus A300 simulator on display, an aircraft it operated from 1976.

In December 2019, the airline operated its first Airbus A350 flight . Just two years after relaunching operations, SAA now has a fleet of nine aircraft. This comprises six Airbus A320s, two A330s, one A340. It also has two Boeing 737-800s wet-leased from SunExpress. It plans to operate at least 21 aircraft by February 2025 to be competitive.

What do you think of South African Airways' historical fleet? Which of these aircraft have you flown before?

trek airways south africa

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Trek Airways

trek airways south africa

Crash of a Douglas DC-4-1009 in El Badary

trek airways south africa

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  1. Trek Airways and Luxair

    trek airways south africa

  2. Trek Airways and Luxair

    trek airways south africa

  3. Trek Airways and Luxair

    trek airways south africa

  4. The History Of South African Airways

    trek airways south africa

  5. South African Airways Set to Resume Domestic Flights

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  6. South African Technical

    trek airways south africa


  1. Trek Airways

    History. Founded in 1953 by retired German Generalmajor Friedrich Wilhelm von Mellenthin (1904-1997), Trek Airways was the only South African airline apart from SAA to fly international services. At the beginning, flights were operated from Europe to South Africa with one over-night stop. The aircraft used at the time was the Vickers VC.1 Viking.

  2. TREK AIRWAYS (PTY.), LTD.: South Africa (1953-1976)

    Authority for 10 additional European roundtrips is granted by the South African government in 1967. An order is sent to Boeing for a B-707-320B Stratoliner. After the tragic loss of a SAA B-707-344C, with 123 killed, at Windhoek on April 20, 1968, Trek volunteers to give its place on the Boeing assembly line to South African Airways (Pty.), Ltd.

  3. Trek Airways and Luxair

    Trek Airways and Luxair. Luxair operated 3 Lockheed L-1649A Starliners. Trek Airways / Trek Lugdiens was a South African airline that operated from August 1953 until April 1994. ... Repaired and transferred to South Africa 17 May 1968. Used by Trek until expiry of certificate of airworthiness on 15 September 1969. Scrapped in mid 1970. Broken ...

  4. Trek Airways (Trek Lugdiens) history from Africa, South Africa

    Trek Airways was formed in 1953 and was the only South African airline apart from SAA to fly international services. Ceased operations on 11Apr1994 and was liquidated. ~ at the beginning, flights were operated from Europe to South Africa with one over-night stop. -:-.

  5. Trek Airways and Flitestar

    Trek Airways, Trek Lugdiens and Flitestar a South African airline that operated from August 1953 until April 1994. TREK AIRWAYS . ... being relatively new to the industry and Flitestar being the first user of the A320 in Africa. Flitestar Airbus A320 ZS-NZP. Cape Town - International (D.F. Malan) Early 1990s ...

  6. Trek Airways: A South African Adventure

    Trek Airways: A South African Adventure. Paperback - March 30, 2007. Unless a person is directly involved in the task of starting and building an airline, unless he has lived through the almost impossible struggles that stood in the way of such a venture, it is almost beyond imagination to absorb the problems that beset such an adventure. . .

  7. Trek Airways

    Trek Airways Boeing 747SP. History. Founded in 1953 by retired German Generalmajor Friedrich Wilhelm von Mellenthin (1904-1997), Trek Airways was the only South African airline apart from SAA to fly international services. At the beginning, flights were operated from Europe to South Africa with one over-night

  8. Trek Airways (Pty) Ltd

    Founded in 1953, Trek Airways was the only South African airline apart from SAA to fly international services. At the beginning, flights were operated from Europe to South Africa with one over-night stop. On 11 April 1994, Trek ceased all operations. SEE BOARDING PASS . 13/1/1959 (From Maputo to Lisbon) 13/4/1963 (From Athens to Johannesburg) ...

  9. Trek Airways: A South African Adventure

    Trek Airways, that iconic budget airline of the 1950s, lives on in this book by chairperson, William Buckland Rorke.

  10. Trek Airways : A South African Adventure

    This book tells only a fraction of the story but records a giant step in the development of the airline industry in South Africa. John Foggitt, founder of TFC Tours. From the formation of the original directors of Trek Airways and the effects of apartheid sanctions, from the South African veld to the stylish London 'Safari Club', William ...

  11. Trek Airways

    Trek Airways was established on 23 September 1953 in Pretoria with the aim of running non-schedule, low-cost flights between South Africa and Europe. The first service from Rand Airport to Amsterdam was flown by a Douglas DC-3 on 20 December 1953. In 1954, Vickers Vikings were introduced and were followed by DC-4s in 1958.

  12. Vickers Vikings of Trek Airways

    5 November 1954 sold to Trek Airways, South Africa and registered ZS-DKI and named Louis Trichardt 2 April 1955 lost some fabric covering from a wing and made an emergency landing at an airfield near Messina ... 1987, the Viking was replaced by SAAF Avro Shackleton 1723 and donated to the South Africa Airways Museum Society. The Viking's ...

  13. Lockheed Constellation Survivors

    Returned to Trek Airways June 1968 as ZS-DVJ Retired by Trek April 1969 and stored at Johannesburg, South Africa To W.J. Pelser July 27, 1971 who planned to convert the aircraft into a cafe. Certificate renewed for a one-time flight to the "Little Kariba Resort" which was located midway between Warmbaths and Pretoria, South Africa on the old N1 ...

  14. Trek Airways: A South African Adventure

    Trek Airways: A South African Adventure by Rorke, William Buckland - ISBN 10: 184401858X - ISBN 13: 9781844018581 - Athena Press - 2007 ... downs, both metaphorical and literal, he describes the birth and rise of one of the most successful private airlines in South Africa in the twentieth century. It is the story of a goal reached by a handful ...

  15. Flitestar

    Flitestar was the first South African airline to directly challenge the monopoly of South African Airways (SAA). It was a subsidiary of Trek Airways; the actual name of the airline was Trek Airways Flitestar, but it operated under the brand name Flitestar. The airline began operations on 16 October 1991 using four new leased Airbus A320 -211 ...

  16. 90 Years Old: South African Airways Celebrates A Milestone

    South Africa's national carrier is one of the oldest airlines in the world. Commencing services on February 1, 1934, South African Airways turns 90 years old today. ... It came to South Africa in 1964 and was operated by Trek Airways. It was leased by SAA in 1965. In 1966, it flew the first non-stop commercial Atlantic crossing by a South ...

  17. Trek Airways: A South African Adventure

    Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for Trek Airways: A South African Adventure at Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users.

  18. Trek Bikes

    You're looking at the South Africa / English Trek Bicycle website. Don't worry. We've all taken a wrong turn before. View your country/region's Trek Bicycle website here. Trek Bikes - The world's best bikes and cycling gear. Get the deals See the shoes See what's new

  19. Trek Airways

    Trek Airways. Country. South Africa. Operator Image. Crash of a Douglas DC-4-1009 in El Badary. Date & Time: Sep 3, 1960 at 0854 LT Type of aircraft: ... The airplane belly landed in a sandy area located near El Badary, about 30 km south of Asyut and came to rest in flames. All 67 occupants evacuated safely while the aircraft was totally ...

  20. LIFT (airline)

    Global Airways. Headquarters. Cape Town, South Africa. Key people. Gidon Novick (Co-Founder) Jonathan Ayache (CEO & Co-Founder) Website. www .lift .co .za. LIFT is a South African airline, which currently operates domestic routes from O. R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg using a fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft, operated by Global Airways.

  21. Trek Airways

    name: Trek Airways country: South Africa ICAO code: TKE ... operator fat. location pic cat; 03-SEP-1960: Douglas DC-4-1009: ZS-CIG: Trek Airways: 0: near El Badary : A1 . Trek Airways- Photos: The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by: Quick Links: ASN Home: Send Correction / Feedback: FSF Home: Disclaimer:

  22. TREK AIRWAYS (PTY) LTD Company Profile

    Find company research, competitor information, contact details & financial data for TREK AIRWAYS (PTY) LTD of Johannesburg, Gauteng. Get the latest business insights from Dun & Bradstreet.

  23. Bikes

    Every Trek is built to enhance the quality of your ride, and every model is backed by our history of performance, durability and precision engineering. Find your next great ride here from our comprehensive offering of trail-shredding mountain bikes, lightning-quick road bikes and stylish city bikes. 165 Results. Items. 24. Sort by. Relevance. NEW.