Visiting South Africa this year? The country is fascinating for the aviation enthusiast, with busy international airports, historic heritage aircraft, and lots of stored airliners. Here are some tips on finding the best aviation experiences whilst there.
Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport
Most people arrive into the country via Johannesburg Airport (although Cape Town is also popular). Both Terminals (A and B) have viewing decks to use, with B being the most useful for photography and catching all movements. The deck is indoors, with somewhat dirty windows, but you can always clean a patch.
The airport has a good mix of international and domestic flights coming throughout the day, so it’s rarely boring.
On the north and south sides of the airport are storage and maintenance areas. The north (Safair) can be mostly read from the viewing decks, but the south (Denel) can’t. Best bet is to hire a car and explore to make sure you catch as many aircraft as possible.
Another airport in Johannesburg, Rand is much smaller. It has a lot of stored airliners on site, plus the South African Airways Society Museum with types up to Boeing 747 in size. You have some views from inside the terminal, however it’s much more rewarding to organise a tour from the fire crews, which cost 20 Rand. These take in all ramps and areas of the airfield, so you won’t miss much.
This is a smaller airport to the northwest of Johannesburg. It has a number of airlines flying domestic routes, and is also a popular place to see bizjets flying into the city. One the airfield are also a number of stored and withdrawn airliners.
You can spot from the viewing deck area which doubles as a food court. However, it’s also possible to arrange an airside tour from the security office if you contact them in advance.
One of the airports in the Pretoria area, Wonderboom is an interesting little place. It is home to a variety of
aircraft, from safari aircraft to Boeing 737s; bizjets to historic flight DC-3’s. It’s possible to see quite a few aircraft from a circuit of the perimeter, however it’s often possible to arrange airside access from the security office.
Durban King Shaka Airport
The new international airport for Durban opened in 2010, replacing the existing facility. It is actually over 20 miles from the city, but is ultra modern and one to watch for the future. At the moment it handles close to 5million passengers per year, with a mix of domestic and international. There are viewing opportunities from within the terminal.