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White Elephant Traditional Geocache

Hidden : 08/01/2010
1.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:

This cache is located on the road to Kei Mouth - a bison tube.

Hereunder is some interesting history on the ‘white elephant’ and has been renamed “Eish” Airlines.

This Convair 880 aircraft c/n 22-7-6-58 (ex. N88CH) is in private ownership of South African councillor Billy Nel located in the Eastern Cape (between East London and Kei Mouth). Although not in airworthy condition it is one of the few surviving aircraft of this type.

It was first delivered to Japan Air Lines in July 1961, registered JA8022. Cathay Pacific Airways bought it in July 1970 and registered it as VR-HGF. Compania Iter-Americana Export Import bought it in September 1975 and registered it as N88CH. Jet Aviation in Basel, Switzerland bought it in February 1976 and transferred it to Hirschmann Corporation in the USA. At that time the airline interior was converted for executive transport use. D-Flag Leasing bought it in December 1977. Orchester Incorporated bought it in May 1978. Sentinel Jets Inc. bought it in March 1979. C C Petit bought it in October 1981. As of July 1983 it was being held at Islip, New York for unpaid fuel and parking fees. It had been abandoned by the rock group Jefferson Starship when they were not paid for performing a concert in Long Island. The Ciskei government bought it in August 1987 for the purpose of using it as the luxurious personal transport of president Lennox Sebe, but could not afford to make it airworthy. It was parked at the Bulembu International Airport for 8 years at a great expense.

Once a flying party palace to stars like Barbra Streisand, John Denver, the Rolling Stones and The Who and designed by Howard Hughes, it is one of only two remaining aircraft of its kind in the world. The other one is lodged in Graceland, Elvis Presley’s former home in Memphis, Tennessee.

By the time the rock ’n’ roll era had waned in the mid-1970s, the Convair was put to pasture and by 1992, Ciskei’s Lennox Sebe was ready to invest in his own private aircraft. But the deal fell flat when it was ascertained that the plane needed too many costly repairs to be viable. It was scrap metal time for the Convair. That was until Billy Nel stepped in. And so a bizarre journey towing the aircraft from Ciskei’s Bulembu Airport to his massive riverside plot in Gonubie began and subsequently it was towed to its present resting place.

He paid R30 000 for the plane but it cost him R90 000 to move it – a lot of money in those days. But the historical value of it got him going. The wings were temporarily sliced off, but the aircraft was still as wide as a single carriageway. Also there were two bridges between King William’s Town and East London that were too narrow and one that was too low, so a road had to be forged through Ciskei with a front-end loader.

The story is the stuff of legend and, if only the original psychedelic wall covering, mustard couches, double bed and swanky fitted bar could speak, they would no doubt spill equally outrageous tales – most probably starring Mick Jagger himself.

You can also refer to GC2B8MT White Airport for more information on “airport-has-not-taken-off”.

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