History

The South African Power Flying Association is an independent association affiliated to the Aero Club of South Africa formed in the 1980’s.

First South African Aero Conference – Johannesburg 1 to 6 April 1920

The Aero Club was formed in 1920 by a group of airman, “Millers Boys”, who had served with the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. In 1928, due to lack of funds, the club went into recess.

Trophy donated by Mr I W Schlesinger

It was revived again in 1936 when Mr I W Schlesinger offered £10.000.00 in prize money for the promotion of an air race from England to Johannesburg. See the1920’s – London to Cape Townpage for further details.

A further £10.000.00 was donated by Sir Abe Bailey to promote Civil Aviation in South Africa, part of which was used for the establishment of a National Controlling Body for Aviation.

In 1939 as World War II hostilities began, Aero Club opened a Civil Pilots register to enable government to readily mobilize those in civil aviation or those with any past flying experience. When war was declared all the established flying clubs were turned into military units with many of these men giving the SAAF a name and reputation unequalled before.

At the end of the war in 1945 the Aero Club set about the re-establishment of clubs throughout South Africa. Initially the Aero Club represented only power flying but as other branches of aviation developed new sections were formed.

Schlessinger Race Program

Sub committees were formed to run the various sections, the main one still being the Power Flying committee. As other forms of aviation gained popularity the other sections showed rapid growth.

In the late 1980’s the sections of Aero Club were constituted as independent organisations all affiliated to Aero Club and subscribing to the aims and objectives of Aero Club in their particular branch of aviation. The first committees of the independent sections took office in 1988. The sections are:- Power Flying, Gliding, Parachuting, Aerobatics, Ballooning, Hang Gliding & Paragliding, Aero-Modelling, Homebuilders, Microlighting, Experimental Aircraft, Gyro Planes, Virtual Aviation, Rocketry and Disabled Aviators.

Aero Club is affiliated to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale – the world controlling body for sport aviation. No competitive recreational flying activity in South Africa is recognized without Aero Club approval. This includes world record attempts.

Recently, the Aero Club became involved in development programs to expose those previously isolated communities to aviation and liaise such with the Department of Sport and Recreation. The development actions of SAPFA can be found here.

A general committee elected by the members and representing each of the 14 sections, is responsible for the administration and development of the Aero Club’s policies in the interest and well being of sport aviation in South Africa.

Since 1937 Aero Club and SAPFA have been organising the President’s Trophy Air Race (formerly the Governor General’s Cup Air Race). For more information on the history of this event – see Race History

Flight in South Africa in the 1870’s – Fact or fiction

John Goodman Houshold

There is a belief that, in the early 1870’s, John Goodman Houshold and his brother built a glider and launched it from the top of a 300 metre precipice on the farm Der Magtenburg, in the Karkloof area of KwaZuluNatal. The first flight was just over 1 kilometer and a height of 50 to 80 meters was achieved. During the second flight the craft soared for a while before beginning a rapid descent in which it clipped a tree and crashed, breaking his leg in the process.

It was the first ever recorded heavier-than-air flight and Goodman and his brother could have been accorded a place in history had it not been for their mother. When she heard of the crash she persuaded them to abandon the project out of fear that the family would incur the wrath of God for challenging their natural state of being earthbound. It is believed that the glider was stored in a barn and eventually burned with other rubbish.

All drawings, sketches and calculations were supposedly burned at John Houshold’s insistence so he would abide by his promise to his mother never to discuss or attempt flying again.

This allowed the German Otto Lillienthal to take the honour when he made a successful glider flight in 1896. Eight years later, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first powered flight at Kittyhawk in the United States. It was the dawning of a new era; an age of adventure, excitement and glamour that gripped the world, including South Africa.

The Goodman Household Monument has been erected near Curry’s Post, in the KwaZuluNatal Midlands to commemorate his achievement.

Is this fact or myth? According to an article by J.W. Swinnich in the National Soaring Museum Historical Journal Vol 25, (1), 2003. titled “History Without Evidence is Myth: J.G. Household and Claims of Flight in 1870’s Africa” (attached below), no written evidence has been found to substantiate the claim. J W Swinnich suggests that further research is required as there could be evidence in the archives in South Africa.

Thanks to the National Soaring Museum ( www.soaringmuseum.org ) for supplying a copy of the article.

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