To build the busiest airport in the country was an idea sparked by two aviation enthusiasts (Fanie Haacke and Abe Sher) in the 70’s. In 1974 the dream became a reality and Lanseria Airport opened it's doors to privately operated aircraft. The airport was officially opened by the Minister of Transport at the time, Hannes Rall, on 16 August 1974. Soon after its opening, Lanseria hosted the Air Africa '75. Lanseria was also home to 4 Impala Squadron and 41 Reconnaissance Squadron of the South African Air Force from May 1979 until the base was closed in 1991. The airport continued to grow, completed a new terminal building and runways upgrades, and over the years became the home base for several commercial airlines that coloured the South African skies. Today it’s home to airlines kulula.com and Mango.
But bizjet lovers do not visit Lanseria for the airliners. The airport is the first choice to welcome international guests, presidents and superstars into the country of South Africa. When former President, Nelson Mandela, was released from prison in May 1990, he was flown to Johannesburg and the first time he set foot on Gauteng soil after such a long time, was onto the tarmac at Lanseria Airport. The South African aircraft registry has listed over 150 bizjets. It's no problem at all to see over a 100 of these when visiting Lanseria for a couple of days. This especially because the airport is very helpful towards aircraft spotters and photographers. By contacting the permit office at the airport, and payment of 250 South African Rand, it is very easy to get permission for a guided tour.
Escaping the yearly carnival I decided to go after the active and wfu Gulfstreams based at Lanseria. I stayed in the 'Touch Of Africa Lodge' were I arrived on Sunday February 7 after a long trip from Düsseldorf and a stop in Dubai. The lodge is situated right at the fence of the airport and from my room (no. 28) with a nice balcony I had a view on a row of wfu aircraft, the Execujet ramps and all the arriving and departing aircraft.
In the morning of the 8th I had to report at the permit office at gate 5. After the paperwork and payment the nice lady at the desk called a service member which would guide me around. The private tour was fantastic, took almost 5 hours and almost anything was possible! Outside parked aircraft could be photographed without any problem and after asking for permission almost every hangar could be entered. My guide was very easy going and there was no time limit at all. He knew what I wanted, searched for c/n plates and even asked for missing registrations when needed!
So, what did I see, and not see, Gulfstream related. Not seen was c/n 150, ZS-TPG. When talking to a Swift Flite pilot he confirmed that the aircraft was broken-up and parts, like the landing gear, were sold to different customers. He did not know if the hull was still around but this was not seen during my visit. Airframe 150 made it's first flight on 13 August 1974 as N803GA. It operated the first 10 years of it's career for Honeywell. In 2006 it was sold to south Africa as ZS-TPG.
The pilot had better news about ZS-DJA (c/n 156). This Swift Flite GII-B is in the process of complete overhaul and the engines are fitted again as the photo below shows. This one will be back in the air!
Luckily, there also were some Gulfstreams still active and ready to go. Noted were GII-SP ZS-MMG (85) and GIII's ZS-JGC (312), ZS-LAH (328), ZS-TEX (355) and ZS-VIP (444). C/n 85 is a former Grumman demonstrator and was leased to the Royal Danish Air Force in 1981 for six months pending delivery of the bought RDAF Gulfstreams. It returned to General Motors after the lease period.
ZS-VIP was registered in December 1984 to Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. as N328GA. After been registered as N110MT, N555HD and N554HD, in February 2010 c/n 444 was bought by Landonia Trust as ZS-VIP.
During my visit no Gulfstream was seen flying. The only movement noted was ZS-LAH starting it's engines and relocate to another part of the airport. Starting it's career in 1981 with test-registration N309GA, airframe 328 was in service as N75RP, N78RP, N98RP, N97AG and N36WL. It flew for General Transportation Corp., Time Warner, Petersen Publishing and Benson Oil and Gas. South African registration as ZS-LAH was on 12 February 2007 with Norse Air Charter as the new owner.
ZS-JGC was found outside closely parked with ZS-MMG. After a long career for US customers the aircraft was sold in Mexico as XA-RCM. In August 2007 it continued its services in South Africa for Ruwa Investments.
ZS-TEX was back in the air at 16 October 2015 after 4 months on the ground. During my visit it was found in a hangar looking good and active. In the past it flew for Coca-Cola (as N676RW) and with registration 8P-GAC. After been registered as ZS-TEX in 2002 it had N355TR applied before returning back to ZS-TEX in 2014 for new owner Jewels of Africa.
Then back to the wfu airframes. Three more can be found at different places at Lanseria and in various conditions. In bad shape is MCC Aviation GII-B, ZS-DGW (c/n 166) as the photo below shows. This airframe first flew on 22 July 1975 as NN811GA. On 22 November 1978 it was damaged by a taxiing Thai International Airways DC-8 at Kuwait. In Mexico c/n 166 could be seen as XA-SWP at the end of 1994 and beginning of 1995.
In a little better condition is ZS-LUX (GIII, 327) which was relocated from the grass storage area and joined ZS-DGW.
Still parked in the grass is the oldest Gulfstream around at Lanseria, GII-SP (26) ZS-PYY. This airframe looks in good shape but is definitely withdrawn from use. First flight of this old lady was on 27 August 1968 as N328K from Savannah (GA). It was operated by the Ford Motor Company, Gulfstream Aerospace (N202GA) and Pertamina Oil in Indonesia (as PK-PJZ). In 2007 the aircraft was sold to South Africa and is now registered to Fastjet Aviation Holdings.
As said, the tour was really fantastic. Very relaxed and with everything possible. Again I got some old G's in my book before they disappear. Great also to see that some are still flying or even will go back in the air in near future. Oh... just to be complete, the only other Gulfstream noted at Lanseria was GIV-SP, N77FK (1357). In Düsseldorf G450, OE-LAI (4237) marked the end of my trip.