1933 a handful of aviation enthusiasts, met at the Rand Airport in
Germiston on the East Rand, then a rather discouraging stretch of
sun-backed land with one hangar on it. They all had an
unshakeable belief in the future of flying. There was the Rand and
there were people. It only wanted drive, and hard work.
They took what was to be an important step in furthering aviation in
South Africa. They decided with firm optimism, to form the
Rand Flying Club.
Their assets? One de Havilland Gipsy Moth
- ZS-ABE, known all over the reef as “Lady Betty”, and one
instructor who went with her. Their liabilities were those of the
old Benoni Light Plane Club.
In March 1933 the Rand Flying Club came into
existence. The Joint Committee of the Rand Airport had faith in the
new Rand Flying Club and with foresight set aside a
special enclosure for club members.
The Rand Flying Club grew remarkably and by the
end of 1933 had over 100 members. Early in 1934 members subscribed
towards an aircraft fund which bought another aircraft,
Owing to the
rapid increase in membership, the rustic shelter soon became too
small for the Rand Flying Club and a brick and
mortar clubhouse was built and officially opened on 24 May
1934. This building is next to the terminal
hours were on the increase with over 100 hours being knocked up
month after month. Funds were improving and soon another aircraft,
ZS-ADY, was bought. Flying again jumped forward, and with it
membership. Two more aircraft were bought, ZS-ABS and
of two tennis courts, which were officially opened on Sunday 24
March 1935, extended social activities. The monthly dances grew
steadily in popularity, as too did the annual ball. Other forms of
social entertainment included Golf on the adjoining Germiston Golf
Course, Boating on the nearby Victoria Lake and Rugby and Soccer on
the fields of the airport. A Squash Court was built in
rose steadily, with 430 members toward the end of 1935. The club
completed negotiations for the establishment of a Benoni Branch,
from whence the Club originated, operating from Benoni Aerodrome, to
cater for the needs of members of the Far East Rand. The demand for
flying grew steadily keener, and with the acquisition of more
aircraft the club formed branches at Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp to
provide for Western Transvaal members. The Rand Gliding Club was
absorbed into the Rand Flying Club.
Additional machines, of varying types, both
cabin and open were bought, so that flying at very low charges could
be provided. The club’s fleet of ten power planes and five
gliders justified the Rand Flying Club in taking the unprecedented
step of inaugurating its own workshops.
Progress was so rapid that the
clubhouse, of revolutionary size when built, was now too small. The
Joint Committee of the Rand Airport provided a new building for the
Rand Flying Club in 1938. His Excellency Sir Patrick Duncan,
Governor-General of the Union of South Africa, and Lady Duncan,
performed their first gesture towards civil aviation by honouring
the Rand Flying Club with a visit during which they performed the
opening ceremony on Saturday 8 August 1938. This is our present
1939 the clubs fleet consisted of:
2 Aeronca Chief
3 de Havilland
1 de Havilland Hornet Moth
Havilland Tiger Moth
1 De Soutter
made provision for Preliminary Flying Instruction, Cross-Country
Flying, Blind Flying, Night Flying and “A” and “B” Licence
Second World War the South African Air Force (SAAF) 5 Wing used the
clubhouse as an Officers Mess and the whole area was a SAAF station
including their barracks. What was previously know as the Government
Village, and the recently demolished Wits Rifles building was
the NCO’s Mess and parade ground.
Imperial Airways and subsequently BOAC used it
as a terminal building for transporting passengers to and from the
Vaal Dam for their Shorts C Class flying boat
due to lack of control the Rand Flying Club was liquidated and the
Transvaal Aviation Club (TAC) was formed in 1961.
too was a very successful club and membership was limited to 1,000
members in the 1970’s. The Transvaal Parachute Club was a sub
committee of the Transvaal Aviation Club (TAC).
In 2003 the members of the Transvaal
Aviation Clun (TAC) decided to allow the public to visit the club to
contribute to the costs of maintenance etc.
Biggles Bar & Bistro is the commercial entity to
cover the overheads of the Transvaal Aviation Club