South African Air Force Museum

The South African Air Force Museum is for those who love all things aviation, who have a passion for military history and who want to learn more about South Africa’s rich aviation history. Despite a long tradition, it was only relatively recently that South African aviation found a home for its historical aircraft and artefacts.

Inside the hanger. Photo courtesy <a href=''>DanieVDM</a>

Inside the hanger. Photo courtesy DanieVDM

South Africa boasts a strong aviation history. The South African Air Force (SAAF) has significant ties with many of the great wars of the 20th century: South Africans took part in the Berlin airlift, the Korean War, the two World Wars, and numerous others. But the South African Air Force Museum is more than an exhibition of military aircraft – it is a celebration of the roles that so many South Africans played in shaping world history. Much of this history was undocumented until the museum was founded by Colonel PJM McGregor in 1973. The museum was originally an attempt to preserve historical aircraft that were being destroyed due to poor storage, negligence, or because the they were sold for scrap metal.

Colonel McGregor and those who worked with him to establish the museum were concerned that this important aspect of South Africa’s history would fade away. Now the museum collects, preserves and restores aircraft for the enjoyment of the public, and to educate young learners about the air force and its history. The museum, situated at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Centurion, boasts displays of breathtaking aircraft and equipment, artefacts collected from numerous battles, personal effects, artworks and military vehicles.

The most popular exhibit at the museum is a Boeing 707, no doubt because visitors can walk inside it and access the cockpit. Other museum exhibits include parts from the first SAAF plane involved in World War II, as well as a Swastika cut from a Messerschmitt. A trip to the museum guarantees not only an experience of the military history of South Africa, but also a look into air force activity today. The Swartkop Air Force Base is still in operation, and so in order to enter you need to get clearance from the AFB Swartkop authorities. Of course, if you’re going to the museum it’s merely a formality – but it does add to the experience! 

Visiting the museum is a must for plane buffs and military enthusiasts. The museum also has branches in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.



Visiting Hours

Mondays to Saturdays - 10h00 to 15h00
Sundays - closed
January 1, December 25, 26 and 31 - closed