Monday 5 November 2012

A Secure Future

By Dave Vermaak (Air Rhod.)

The following information is from Air Rhodesia's 1973 Annual Report and I believe a tribute to the resourceful and dedicated management that put us into the jet age and gave the sanctions appliers the Finger!

A Secure Future
"A secure future for Air Rhodesia will only be assured when it is re-equipped with jet aircraft." This was the final sentence in the Corporation's last Annual Report.

Boeings, A secure futue. Arrival of first Boeings
In the late evening of Saturday, 14th April 1973, a small group of spectators on the balcony of Salisbury Airport Terminal were the surprised witnesses of this long awaited development when they saw three Boeing 720 aircraft land in quick succession. A cryptic official statement reporting the acquisition by Air Rhodesia of three Boeing jet aircraft published the following day triggered off a flood of dramatic reports, comments and counter comments in the world press which lasted for several weeks.
Air Rhodesia has moved into a new era of its history and is now in a position to provide services to the travelling public on an equal basis with other associated carriers.

A major step has been taken to secure the airline's future.


Thanks to Dave for sharing his information with ORAFs.

Comments are always welcome, please mail them to Eddy Norris at and they will be loaded to this article.

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At 6 November 2012 at 07:23 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

John Moore (RhArmy) Writes:-

I loved the pictures of the Air Rhodesia Boeing 720’s at Salisbury Airport and Dave Vermaak’s covering story. I think just about everyone in Salisbury drove out to the airport on that Sunday morning to look at the new acquisitions visible from the main road parked outside their hangars! It was a great boost for morale!

As great an achievement as this was, I often used to marvel at the quiet acquisition of additional Viscounts by Air Rhodesia, and would welcome Dave’s recollections on these great sanctions-busting achievements! Whereas I guess the Boeing 720’s were able to fly around the bulge of Africa (the West coast route taken for some years by SAA), the Viscounts were not long range and had to lumber down through Africa under the very noses of those who so vociferously supported sanctions!

At the break-up of Central African Airways (CAA) in 1964, the airline had five Viscounts; three were allocated to Air Rhodesia and two to Air Malawi; after Rhodesian Independence and the imposition of mandatory UN sanctions, the Air Rhodesia fleet grew to 12! SAA later had a fleet of the larger 800 series Viscounts, so our Viscounts didn’t come from them...

At 6 November 2012 at 09:28 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Mike Hamence (RhAF) Writes:-

From 1973-'78 while with AIS I worked closely with Doug Pollock, Air Rhod Hangar Foreman(?) especially when the RhAF Daks were in for deep maintenance.

Doug had a wicked sense of humour and he had nicknames painted on the noses of the B720s: 'Charley' - after Charley Green, Chief Inspector(?), 'Farley' - after a Manager whose name slips me, but he had a 'handle-bar' moustache. The third nickname slips me too but it was that of another member of the hangar heirachy - Mr De Kok.

Perhaps a former Air Rhod member can provide the third nickname and correct me where necessary?

Replies to Eddy Norris at

At 6 December 2012 at 06:08 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

This information comes via Brenda De Oliveira:-

The information you sent was not quite right, When those Boeings arrived at Salisbury Airport, Bob Fletcher and I were Aircraft Maintenance Engineers at that time. We had not been trained as Flight Engineers, but we were both at the airport on duty the night the B 720’s landed. The first thing we had to do was slightly deflate the landing gear tyres because of a thing called LCN. This is a load bearing factor which determines how much weight the taxiways and runway can support. There was a concern then that the aircraft may have been too heavy for the taxiways. By slightly deflating the tyres, we spread the weight impinged on the tarmac. We were then able to move the aircraft down to the Air Rhodesia hangers.
I do not know if you knew this either, but the aircraft were flow in secret from Bearn Switzerland to Salisbury, Some of the crew who were involved in the were Tony Beck, Poopy Clere, Jock Elphinstone, Reg Mullen and Jack Davidson.

Just wanted to correct the records.
Many thanks Brenda.

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