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 Lets do something about it

Information supplied by Lieutenant Colonel A.L. (Tony) Cockbain

Are we still really worried about loosing valuable historical places with its old buildings and artifacts? Will we come to the rescue of a historical site and be prepared to participate in its restoration? Is it still important for us as soldiers (airmen and women) to know that a place like Swartkop is part of our rich Air Force and national history? How many of us know that Swartkop is after all the oldest air station in the country and second oldest in the world and presently the oldest operational station anywhere?

This is a plea to read further and to take interest in Swartkop and more importantly to the value it has for all of us. This is also a request to you the reader to help us with any bits and pieces, text or photographs of the past in order for us to research the true origin and historical past of this exceptional and valuable place known in the past as Zwartkop. Please submit your material or copies thereof to the AD ASTRA office at Air Command, DCSS, Level 2 – Room F205 or mail us at,

or send mail to:

AD ASTRA Magazine,
Private Bag X199

 For more information contact Lt Col Tony Cockbain at (012) 553 2218. If you are interested in participating in any restoration work please contact the given telephone number. Now read on:

There is so much aviation history at Swartkop that is not or cannot be enjoyed by the visiting public. The SA Air Force Museum is rightly situated on this heritage sight and they receive many visitors from all over South Africa and the world annually.

Swartkop the “heritage sight”

It may sound strange to say that some people may be interested in the old barbershop that was situated between the control tower block and the hangar currently used by the emergency services.

The old barbershop

There are other buildings, for example, what was the building that is half submerged in the ground behind the guardroom building? This building is currently being used as a store for fire fighting supplies?

Chemical store or fire drill building?

Why has the old control tower on top of hangar #7 not been reconstructed to its original configuration? Why not put up some of the signal features (large black balls and pennants) that were on the yardarm of this tower in the past? These things are of genuine interest to those that knew these features and to those that did not know them but would like to know what life was like at Swartkop in the good old days.

Original control tower                       The old and the new

The fire station occupies hangar #7 at present but it used to be positioned to the north of the hangars. Has anybody seen it?

Two views of the original fire station

In the early days very few people had motorcars to get to work with, therefore they made use of horses. Where did they park their transport during the day? The stables for this purpose were situated on the northern side of airfield.

Two views of the horse stables

Here are some other buildings that may be of interest:

Photographic section dark rooms and cinema hall

Two views of the old Carpenter shop (note the work bench)

Oil store

Sir Pierre van Ryneveld’s office

Where is this information recorded for the everyday visitor to the museum to get an insight into the history of this very important heritage sight? We cannot let this heritage sight go to rack and ruin, as it is far too valuable.

Talking of the name Swartkop, why not, for historical accuracy, give the name of Zwartkop back to the station? This would make so much sense for posterity. There are many other features at Swartkop that are not mentioned here and if something is not done soon these things will have been forgotten, as the older generation will soon be no more and the information will be lost.

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