Karoo Magic – Attention All Passengers!

By Chris Marais & Julienne du Toit

On June 16, 1919, a certain Captain Nash came out to Victoria West and, in the company of the mayor and a councillor, inspected a site just outside the little Northern Cape village.

He reported that the “sandhills between the bushes” were a bit hard and it would be nice if the council could have the area softened and levelled out.

Thus was born the concept of an ‘air service station’ that would put Victoria West on the world aviation map. It was a perfect refuelling spot for the aeroplanes flying between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

By 1926 the Victoria West Aerodrome was servicing the South African Air Force and the Imperial Airways (granddad of British Airways) on its Cape Town to London route.

There was a miniature Arrivals/Departures Hall and a dinkum flight control tower that overlooked the delicious vastness that is the Upper Karoo.

During the heady Wool Boom era of the early 1950s, local farmers’ wives would climb aboard a South African Airways Douglas DC-3 and go globe-trotting with a shopping list of note.

Old clippings will tell you that the job of replacing torn windsocks was assigned to the bloke from Bester’s Garage in town.

Although it lost its international status in 1967, Victoria West is still on the radar. All craft flying between Cape Town and points north routinely check in on the old aerodrome’s navigational beacons.

We have published a large catalogue of print and ebooks on the Karoo available HERE and HERE or contact julie@karoospace.co.za for prices and courier details.

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