The very first commercial flight has officially landed in KZN’s new King Shaka International Airport. A local Durban pilot landed the giant SAA Airbus yesterday. Three air force helicopters led the way and escorted the plane onto the runway, just as a water cannon opened up, courtesy of the fire department. It cascaded over the run way, welcoming the the plane with a ceremonious curtain of water . The plane taxied on towards the brand spanking new terminal buildings without incident.
It kind of leaves a lump in your throat don’t you think? What an extremely proud and historic moment for all South Africans.
For Herselman (the pilot), landing the inaugural flight at the new airport was particularly special
“Some 30 Years ago, when the land here was first leveled for the new airport development, I did my pilot training here on what was an airstrip. Now so many years later, to be able to land the first flight is unbelievable. Not every day will you be the first to land a giant aircraft at a brand new airport”
The multi-billion rand airport will start operations tomorrow morning, with the first flight due to take off at 6.30am.
The final curtain will come down on Durban international airport tonight, when the last flight, SA585, departs for Johannesburg. That is so sad, although I have no doubt that the new airport is bigger and much better equipped to deal with the tourist influx during the SWC, I loved that old pokey little airport, it will be sadly missed…….sniff.
The older airport will be handed over to the SA Air Force to be used as a military base during the SWC. It will eventually be decommissioned as an airport……….again…………..sniff!