Dassault Mirage III BZ, Mirage Aircraft, Outdoor Photography

Forever detached from the blue sky

When passing through the gates of the SAAF Museum you leave the modern world behind and enter into an almost forgotten static world. History is a cruel mistress; a spider's web catching the lethargic few by their old and tired wings...

Inside the museum you will find relics that were once the proud and grand mechanical birds of the sky. Machines that exerted so much energy and thunder that whomever laid eyes and ears on these creatures, stood in awe with a proud heart. These fighter planes are no longer mocking the blue skies or driving fear into our enemies, instead they are standing in suspended animation, whispering stories of a time long forgotten. On a quiet day, when you listen carefully you will stand witness to these stories echoing in the silence of the museum—enthralling.

However, today there will be no listening to stories of those glory days; the silence of the museum is disrupted by little ones— the fighter planes are suppressed to a silent state. Outside the youngsters are voicing their joys on push scooters and bikes (made by their peers in a foreign county which they can't even find on a map, even if it is pin-pointed to them), loudly celebrating what seems to be the birthday of a friend... They are still not tall or old enough to fully grasp why these old fighter planes are just standing around. Some of the parents tried their best to explain the inanimate state of the planes, but all the youngsters had on their minds were birthday cake. Up on a Mirage III CZ a dad wanted to amalgamate history with the present, deeply wishing that one day the infant posing in the Mirage will become the pilot of this great machine's equivalent.

Blocking out the ruckus we walked along the demarcated areas, marvelling at the splendour of these fine museum pieces. Up close you can really appreciate the detail of perfection; the amount of man hours toiled so that we can take photographs of mechanical birds forever detached from the blue sky. It was a great journey through time; for a moment I've tried to fathom the amount of brainpower, skill, dedication and progress made by man in defying the law of gravity. There is still a long and arduous journey ahead of the human race, before we can truly call ourselves masters of the sky, but until then we can enjoy the quieter moments at the air force museum, to tell us stories of time gone by. •

Words & Photos: Adriaan & Martine Venter - www.rainmakerbell.com (SAAF Museum, Air Force Base Swartkop, 2012/04/07, 76 images)