DC-4 Over Timbuktou In Mali

Springbok Classic Air Newsletter


Article on the ferry flight of ZS-NTE to Germany

History of ZS-NTE


ZS-NTE Ferry - Final Update

Our last day of flying, even though a long duty, was absolutely wonderful. It started off with a wake up call at 4.30 am in Cascais, for a planned takeoff time of 0700 local. But before I continue, I would like to go back in time to briefly describe the events since we landed in Portugal some 36 hours earlier....

The reception we received at the airport in Cascais was more than we could have imagined. Having already made email contact with Carlos (A319/A320 Captain TAP) we knew a number of 'his' group were very involved in the rebuild of a DC-3 (ex TAP) which now stands in the museum near Sintra.

Additionally, the welcoming party was made up of "spotters" led by Andre. Their enthusiasm was such that we agreed to meet on our rest day, being Thursday - to which they all volunteered to help with maintenance and cleaning of NTE.

The result, was a splendid day, in which they delivered even more.... having arrived with buckets and brooms, and a high pressure washer - we were all outdone by the organising of the airport fire truck, who did a splendid job in turning our oily duck into her original silver swan attire! After a brief lunch for all (beautifully arranged once again by Maryna) Flippie announced and subsequently briefed the group that a quick flip around the Cascais peninsula was to take place. It was indeed motivating to see the excitement of the group, and so off to the beautiful sky went 21 happy souls under the careful and very safe hands of Flippie, Uli, Maryna and Ben. The comments after landing were priceless - especially from a dear (elderly) Gentleman who had just experienced his first flight!! Credit goes to Carlos for the navigation around the peninsula but especially - listen to this - when our fuel credit card would not cooperate for the filling of the tanks, he stepped forward without hesitation and paid for the fuel on his personal card. Of course, Flippie returned the amount through an EFT that evening, but this wonderful gesture displayed the spirit of our wonderful stay in Cascais. Another example, is a friend and colleague of Flippie's, namely Arthur, travelled both days to spend time with us from his home near CP. Hours of driving each way just to be part of the day, and meeting friends!

We called it a night immediately after dinner in downtown Cascais, under clear skies in a tree lined square with live music strumming in the background. Not an easy thing to do, leaving that scene. But we knew of the fun day ahead.

So, back to our last day.... We took off just after the sun came up, heralding another beautiful day. The plan was to fly at FL100 all the way to Avignon, but very supportive (and complimentary) ATC, suggested a much shorter routing if we cancelled IFR. This we did and then flew at 9500 ft from just south of Madrid directly to the French boundary, just east of the coastline. The scenery, made up of beautiful little towns and farmland whilst transiting eastern Spain was tremendous - especially as we were only about 4500 ft agl. There was not a cloud in the sky and we could actually see Avignon airport from the French Mediterranean coast near MTG. Descending into Provence was classic, and we circumnavigated Avignon before completing a visual approach to RWY 17. Handling at the Avignon Airport was most efficient and a helluva lot cheaper than what we had experienced in Africa. Summer in Europe - it does exist. 31 degrees, calm cavok was the order of the day at eachdestination!

We were on our to Luxembourg within an hour and 2.5 hours later found ourselves over the beautiful countryside of Central Europe. ATC gave Flippie and Uli some radar vector practice before giving them a clear road to overfly the airport. The number of supporters positioned at all points around the airport, was again humbling, respected and appreciated. We felt so good to have the team at Cargolux, witness the fruit of their extensive labour in the huge effort they made in making this ferry so successful.

Flippie set heading for EDRZ in a most impressive fashion and some 20 minutes later, he demonstrated to the very happy group (who had travelled from far and wide) who had assembled to witness the arrival of Peter Adrian's new DC-3. Happiest of all was Peter who is probably still beaming! No wonder, what a beautiful lady he has in NTE. She was parked outside her new hangar, which was spotless and ready to take in the new tenant. Thank you to all, for the efforts made, especially Diane for the wonderful organisation of drinks and snacks that went down "very well" Let's take a minute though, to raise our hats to a very brave team at Springbok Classic Air, led proudly by Flippie. We know how much you all loved and treasured NTE and can only imagine the pain in your hearts to see her go. Especially you, Flippie. It could not have been easy to walk away from the aircraft you loved so much -but yet again, you did it with honour and pride.

It was therefore so nice to hear Peters comforting words to Flippie, that NTE is here and ready for Flippie to fly whenever he wants to...... Uli and Noel are already scheming a return trip to Cascais for us all.

And so concluded the most wonderful of experiences - as commented- probably one of the last "big piston" mission around Africa. Even more remarkable was the performance of this wonderful DC-3. Not a murmur of complaint from her, with fuel and oil consumption better than published.

What a ride!

Editors personal note:

Having completed 1 African ferry flight years back, I had forgotten how much work goes into this exercise. Especially in today's times with the added complications of security and the availability of Avgas. I would like to compliment everyone on board door the huge efforts made, but it would be amiss not to thank the wonderful team at Springbok a classic Air. Notably Brian, Ronell and Tim. To David, Serge, Max, Carlo, Ingi and of course the blessing of the Cargolux Excom this would not have been possible in the time constraint permitted. Thank you very much.

I could not wish to have worked for a better team on board the aircraft. The professional efforts of you all was more than Impressive. Thank you to each one of you - especially our leader, Flippie. An example to so many. And of course, Peter - thank you for making this all happen.

With best regards and thanks again for all your support, until the next Mission

Flippie, Maryna, Ben, Brian, Uli and Noel


Ferry Flight update - LAST DAY!

Yesterday our team was helped by fans and the firebrigade to clean ZS-NTE after she did a quick scenic flight over Cascais. The rest of the day (not much left of it!) was used for some site seeing and something to eat! The last two photo's were sent by Flippie this morning. ZS-NTE Departed Cascais for Avignon, ETA 12:48z

Ferry Flight update - Last day off - but not really!

While we are freeezing in Gauteng and I think in most parts of SA our crew will be working, washing windows (only joking and yes I know it is not a DC-3 in the pic!), polishing and cleaning ZS-NTE before the delivery flight tomorrow. We wish Brian and Jenny Clack congrats on their 21st wedding anniversary and then also very early birthday wishes to Captain Uli Spielmann. Uli's birthday will be Sunday, when the trip is done - happy birthday Uli! They will also be busy showing the aircraft to photographers as well as media interviews. Stay well Flippie Vermeulen, Noel Flynn, Uli, Maryna, Brian Clack and Ben Vermeulen!

Ferry Flight Update - ZS-NTE

Just got news they are safe in Cascais.

Thanks Rue Guerreiro for sharing this beaut of a pic Taken when Flippie did the most amazing low fly past over Cascais. Goosebumps!


Ferry Flight Update - ZS-NTE

Just got word from the crew, they are safe in Las Palmas, touched down 17:15

Tomorrow is a rest day in the beautiful city of Las Palmas.

This city played a critical role in the history of SAA. When the African countries announced that SAA was no longer allowed to touch down at their airports, Las Palmas offered that SAA could land there. First with the B707 and then the B747. The crew frequented the Catalina Square’s lovely restaurants.
Thanks to Joppie for this background info.

Capt Flippie received a plaque from the Las Palmas Station Manager, which reads:
“On behalf of SAA Staff Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
To SAA Historic Section and to flights SA-2760\SA2761 (DC-4 Lebombo ZS-BMH)
Regarding the call at our station and wishing SAA Captain Philippus Vermeulen and his crew the most successful future.
God Bless You All
AM Leon
Station Manager
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 22nd July\ 07th August 1994”

Good evening all

Just got news the team and ZS-NTE landed safe in Dakar at 17:42.

Tomorrow they rest

Flippie just sent us this message:

"Hallo all, we just landed safe in Dakar. Went very well. We flew 7h in stead of 8h20. ZS-NTE is performing fantastic!"

Photos: Ben and Brian turning the props before departure and leaving Accra behind!

Ferry Flight - Day reports from our crew Day 3 and 4 (written by Captain Noel Flynn)

Arriving in Accra yesterday afternoon, we noted that we had accomplished very close to half of the total distance from Rand to Luxembourg. This was completed in 3 days of flying with flying hour totals as follows:

Rand to Polokwane 1:13
Polokwane to Ondangwa 5:12
Ondangwa to Kinshasa 5:05
Kinshasa to Libreville 3:06
Libreville to Accra 4:07
Total block time for these sectors...19 hours and 56 minutes.

The aircraft has performed absolutely beautifully, and even though we flight planned at the published TAS of 145 kts we have averaged an groundspeed in cruise of 161 kts. Best seen is 184 kts, so let's hope the wind keeps playing its part. Cruising levels have been FL080 and FL100.

The sector from Libreville to Accra was for the most part - other than 'another' ATC delay on departure/ and only receiving landing clearance for Accra 2 hours after planned departure - flown in good weather and calm skies. That's until we had to manipulate our way through a weather front lying east/west some 150nm south of destination. Uli and I certainly learned what Flippie had been telling us about "getting wet in the cockpit!" Ooooh, the luxury of weather radar!

The wonderful support from the teams at Rand (Ronell, Brian) and Luxembourg (David, Serge and Carlo) has been stupendous. The weather update on the sector LBV to ACC being a fine example.

Concerns we have had in regard to clearances and fuel availability have certainly been put to rest.

The weather in Accra was pleasant for the arrival, and after a very good nights rest in the Labardi Beach hotel, we all trudged off to the airport in the morning to give some TLC to NTE.

Maryna was on her hands and knees giving a spring clean to our chariot whilst Ben and Brian climbed into every nook and cranny to see all was in good shape.

The trial of the day came from the refuel company who had dragged the worst looking fuel drums from some far off refinery, 5 at a time. To cut a very long story, fuelling started at 1030am and was eventually completed at 1730 in the afternoon. Again, the price did not match the service. More than US$20,000.

Thankfully, it was an overcast day with a gentle breeze which kept us in good spirits. The handling agents spent most of the day with us and took great care and interest in all ongoings....

Back at the hotel, a cold beer preceded a good meal followed by some major napping.

All was well prepared and in good shape for sector 6 (our longest sector) from Accra to Dakar, planned for Saturday morning, 30 May.

Until that report, thank you so much for your interest and support. We do believe we should become visible on sites like "flightradar24" from Saturday.

Best regards

Flippie, Maryna, Ben, Brian, Uli and Noel

The photos show the flight from Accra to Dakar. More photo's to follow. Photo's shared by Flippie and Brian.

Thanks to the crew for not only taking care of the flight, but also keeping us all at the end of our seats with their photo's as well as the written reports! Rest well today!

Ferry Flight update Day 3

ZS-NTE and her crew touched down safe in Accra at 16:20. The weather in the area was really not good. They rest tomorrow.

The photo was shared by Captain Flippie Vermeulen, he took it as they left Libreville. Well done to all of them. Rest well!

From Captain Flippie Vermeulen:

“BAIE, baie dankie Almal!! Ons is veilig in Accra vanaand!! 23 uur in drie dae!! PRESIES HALFPAD!! Om dit in perspektief te plaas, die res tot in Duitsland gaan ons 'n week neem! WOES!! Absoluut 'n WONDERLIKE  vooreg!! Ek is SO dankbaar dat ek dit nog kan doen!! Dit is in alle waarskynlikheid die laaste van die groot epiese "propliner" vlugte!! Wes Afrika is nie vir "sussies" nie!! Dankie vir almal wat dit moontlik gemaak het!! Groete!! Flippie

MANY, many thanks to ALL! We are safe in Accra this evening. We hit the half way mark, after 23 hours flying in three days, where as the rest of the flight to Germany will take us a week! A bit hectic, I would say?! This is such a privilege and I am extremely thankful and honored to do this. This is most probably the last of the major epic "propliner" flights ever. West Africa IS NOT A place for the faint hearted! Thanks to all that made this possible.

Safe in Libreville

According to Flippie the flight from Kinshasa to Libreville was quite challenging due to very bad weather

They landed safe in Libreville at 18:38 SA time attached some pics of her spotted at Libreville and then the aircraft being refuelled ready for today’s flight. The Estimated time of departure this morning is at 09:00 SA time, an estimated 5h flight to Accra, where they will rest for the day


Ferry Flight Update 3

ZS-NTE departed from Ondangwa at 07:35 this morning and is now heading to Kinshasa. Captain Vermeulen reported that she is flying like a dream.

Noel Flynn, one of the pilots wrote the following last night after the first day of flight:

"What a day for flying!
Leaving Rand this morning, we encountered the most beautiful flying weather imaginable. To really make our day, NTE performed like the lady she is!!! Absolutely beautifully.

The hour and a half to Polokwane was uneventful and with the assistance of most helpful staff at the airport, we had a turnaround in less than 1 hour.

The 5.30 flight time to Ondangwa was just as entertaining, without a cloud in the sky. We flew at FL100 which made the viewing most spectacular. All got to work after landing in Ondangwa, and the aircraft was put to bed (happily fed with AVGAS and oil) before sunset.

We have an early flight to Kinshasa in the morning and all is arranged for a takeoff just before sunrise.

More news tomorrow, best regards from the six of us Flippie, Maryna, Ben, Brian, Uli and Noel"

Brian Clack Depart 1 Pietersburg 2.jpg

Ferry Flight Update Day 1 Update 2

ZS-NTE safely touched down at Ondangwa 17h28

We wish them a pleasant night rest!

Captain Flippie says she is performing like a gem!

(Thanks for sharing your photo's Robin Mumford)

Ferry Flight, Update 1

ZS-NTE departed later than expected and we do apoligise to all our fans who waited here at Rand Airport and Lanseria. When it got late, Captain Vermeulen decided to rather go to Polokwane for fuel. Here are some photo's taken by Jarryd Sinovich and Ruan van Wyk. Polokwane photo's taken by Flippie and Ben Vermeulen.

We share the good wishes Captain Brian Stableford shared with the crew this morning: " Dear Intrepid Aviators

Wishing you all Bon Voyage, on your flight begining today.

Safe flight and Happy landings.

Best Wishes

Springbok Classic Air's DC-3 (ZS-NTE) to join the private collection of a German business man in Trier

ZS-NTE_April_2015.jpgThe legacy of Captain Flippie Vermeulen, CEO, Springbok Classic Air will continue in Europe as his DC-3 will be leaving SA shores soon. He has sold ZS-NTE to Mr Peter Adrian. He is a German businessman based in Trier. In addition to Mr. Adrian's professional activities, he is a keen aviation enthusiast specializing in vintage aircraft preservation and is an owner of, amongst others, a T28 and Beech 18. After a lengthy search for a DC-3, Peter expressed his delight in finding (as he expressed) "this beautiful example of a well kept classic".

Even before her final test flight in 2010 after being fully refurbished, she was used in the movie "Machine Gun Preacher". Since then she has been doing from the 10 minute flips at airshows, scenic flights over JHB, showed passengers the water gushing through the Gariep Dam sluices, what Hartebeespoort Dam looks like from the air, to passing over landscapes in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. Now it's time to fly over the African continent to Europe. This "Nile to the Mediterranean" trip is expected to be covered in 11 Days!

The route for the delivery flight will be as follows: departing Rand Airport, clearing customs at Lanseria, to Mfuwe. The crew will stay over in Mfuwe before flying over the South Luangwa National Park in the East of Zambia over the Tanganyika and Victoria Lakes to Entebbe. The crew will layover for one day in Entebbe before the next leg, flying along the Nile to Khartoum in the Sudan and then onto Luxor in Egypt for the next stop. From Luxor they fly to Iraklion on the island of Krete. Here they will stay a day, and then depart for Pula in Kroasia, where the aircraft will be prepared for the last leg to Luxemborg.

"This was a sudden decision, but this offer to let her fly in Europe was just too good to resist!", says Flippie. I know she will give her new owners and all those who fly on her as passengers just as much pleasure and fun, as all of us who flew her as crew or as passengers.

Peter will be joined, for both the training and the planned ferry flight by two colleagues, namely Captain Ulrich SPIELMANN and Captain Noel FLYNN who both serve as TRE's for Cargolux Airlines based in Luxembourg. The ferry flight is scheduled for end May, early June and after transiting Africa the aircraft will find its home at one of two bases being Zweibrücken EDRZ and Luxembourg ELLX.

Captain Flynn is well known amongst SAA pilots. He flew on 747-400's with Captain Vermeulen, before leaving SAA to join the Cargolux crew. He is the son of a retired Snr Manager of SAA Technical, now living in Cape Town. As Peter's company owns Zweibrücken Airport, hangarage and considerable care planning is already in place. After a period of pilot familiarization and consolidation the DC-3 will enter services which are planned to mirror the footprint of what NTE was doing out of Rand.

The last flights for ZS-NTE to the public will be the 20 minute scenic flights on 25 April and the Swartkops Airshow, 09 May. This will be the last time that she will be doing a display flight for aviation fans in South Africa.

Quick history of ZS-NTE

On 24 September 1943, Douglas C47A (DC-3) Serial no 42-92157, rolled off the production line in Oklahoma City and was delivered to the United States Army Airforce. It was then delivered to the Royal Airforce under the "lendlease" program and transferred to 28 Squadron, South African Airforce in January 1944 as 6873. It served in various SAAF Squadrons until being decommissioned and sold to Mr. Wally Gale, of Aero Rebuilders at Rand Airport in 1995.

Capt. Flippie Vermeulen bought the aircraft from them in 2002, placed it into storage for the next seven years. In 2009, after selling DC-3 ZS GPL, he started an extensive rebuilt of the aircraft into its present pristine condition.