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 SAAF Museum News - Pathfinder moves !

The Chubb PATHFINDER was an airport fire tender operated by the South African Air Force Fire Service between 1974 and 1996.

During the course of 1995, while the type was phased out of service, one such vehicle ended up at Swartkop and was unceremoniously left in the storage yard of the Air Force Museum, where it remained, to stand forever! As the whole fleet of vehicles were disposed of soon afterwards, this “donation” proved a blessing in disguise. It now remains the only survivor of its type in the Air Force.

On the drizzly morning of Wednesday 9 January 2008 the vehicle was moved out of storage, for the first time in twelve years. With the generous assistance of Mobile Deployment Wing’s Recovery team; Sgt’s Nakeni and Mokalapa; the heavy vehicle was carefully maneuvered to the static display area, where work will be continued by Cpl Dawie Marais, to restore the vehicle. A major milestone in the project was reached when WO1 Howell and Cpl Marais managed to start the massive Detroit V16 diesel engine that powers the Pathfinder for the first time on the 4th of December 2007.

The PATHFINDER is a historic vehicle and remains the largest type of vehicle ever operated by the South African Air Force. In its operational guise it weighed in at a massive 37 tons and even today its fire-fighting capabilities are widely spoken-of and sought after. Airports like Lanseria International and Nelspruit continue to operate ex SAAF Pathfinders, where the vehicles’ ability to carry a big load of water and foam makes it a valuable asset.

The Air Force Museum is confident that all current and ex fire service members and departments will become involved to assist in the restoration project of this impressive and historic vehicle.

Members that would like to get involved are welcome to contact the Research Officer, Capt Leon Steyn at the Air Force Museum at 012 351 2282 or 2290.


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