NZ8800
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Posts: 408
Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 1:42 pm

Palmietfontein Airport, Johannesburg

Wed Dec 05, 2007 9:26 pm

G'day
Just wondering if anyone has some info on Johannesburg's long gone Palmietfontein International Airport.
It was south of the city centre, in the township of Tokoza.
Some info has been found...

http://www.avcom.co.za/phpBB2/viewto...d=302f728ca89fb3bf68d1bfdb102c4ac8

http://www.saamuseum.co.za/files/SAAMS.doc

Also the Bradshaw's 1953 guide shows the BOAC Comets arriving at the then newly opened Jan Smuts Airport (now known as O.R. Tambo International), but most flights (SAA, Qantas, and BOAC's Constellations) still arrived and departed from Palmietfontein.

It had two runways, one long one, and a shorter cross one on the diagonal, and they were later used as a motor racing circuit for the 1956 Rand Grand Prix, totalling about 3.8 miles between them.

http://www.silhouet.com/motorsport/tracks/palmietf.html

I am not sure if the airport was actually sealed or not! Air Safety Net has an accident detailed suggesting a landing aircraft sank deep into the stones - yet Constellations used it, so perhaps the primary runway was sealed, and the other one wasn't.

I can only speculate why it was closed so early - perhaps not long enough runways, given that Johannesburg's elevation is around 1700m, and bad approaches, and/or weak runways. Whatever it was, money was found to replace it pretty quickly, given the deprivations of the early post-war period.

Also - does anyone know what the name translates as? I only know a little Afrikaans, so while fontein is fountain, Palmiet beats me... perhaps it's someone's name.

Thanks,
NZ8800
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pilotdude09
Posts: 1335
Joined: Mon May 02, 2005 12:35 am

RE: Palmietfontein Airport, Johannesburg

Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:06 am



Quoting NZ8800 (Thread starter):
Also - does anyone know what the name translates as? I only know a little Afrikaans, so while fontein is fountain, Palmiet beats me... perhaps it's someone's name.

A friend from South Africa has told me that Palmiet means fine leaf bushes.....Not 100% sure if it does but he says thats what it means?
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speedbird128
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Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2003 2:30 am

RE: Palmietfontein Airport, Johannesburg

Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:57 am

Palmiet is the name of a plant... It's a hardy bush/shrub type thing, with long thin serrated edged leaves... Used to have one in my garden when I lived at the coast...

[Edit: it's name is Prionum Serratum]

[Edited 2007-12-05 22:58:33]
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NZ8800
Topic Author
Posts: 408
Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 1:42 pm

RE: Palmietfontein Airport, Johannesburg

Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:03 pm

Thanks for the info - just realised that the total length of the runways was 1.9 miles - 3040m - as the total given above was the circuit length!
Given that the main runway would be around 2/3 - 3/4 of that total (i.e. between 2200 and 2300m) - that doesn't sound like much for a fully loaded Constellation to take off on, at an elevation of about 1700m - and for some of them, the next stop was the then RAF Station Eastleigh at Nairobi, about 2900km north.

(As it happens, both runway and elevation at Eastleigh (now Moi Air Base), are about the same as the estimated ones at Palmietfontein... elevation of Eastleigh is 1,640m and the runway length is 2438m (8000ft).)
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