Film: 5457

Aviation | 1930 | Silent | B/W


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By Air to South Africa by Imperial Airways 1930's
marvellous scenes of refuel stops in the middle of nowhere, and the diesel poured into the plane with the aid of funnels and the most basic oil drums. Passenger travel taking two weeks instead of six !

Croydon airport, flying boats, Brindisi to Athens, Egypt and the pyramids, Heliopolis, Karnak, Luxor, Tutankhamun tombs, Aswan dam, Abu Simbul ( before it was moved), Wadi Halfa, Khartoum in the Sudan,, Auliya, Elephants at Juba, Entebbe, Lake Victoria, Nairobi in Kenya, Moshi, Kilimanjaro, Dodoma, Mbeya, Mpika, Broken Hill, Laska in Northern Rhodesia, Zambesi river, Salisbury Bulawayo, Cecil Rhodes Memorial, Limpopo river, Transvaal, Pietersburg, Pretoria, Robert Heights, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Cape town in South Africa. All by aircraft with stops to refuel at the above places. The days when flying was slow !

Additional synopsis.

Croydon Tower. Viewing balcony. Hp42 Heracles aircraft positioning on apron for flight. DH86 Express in background. Checking passports. HP42 starting its Bristol Jupiter engines. Chocks away. G-AAXC plane taxying. It takes off straight ahead followed by a turn left towards Purley. 'Shadow' on the ground (in fact a different aeroplane, the Boulton Paul P71 Boadicea or Britomart, used only for VIP or charter flights). Flying over south east England. Aerial view of an aerodrome with an 'L' in a circle, possibly Lympne. Cockpit scenes. Aircraft has controls for four engines. Scenes in the radio room in the airport. Plotting table for triangulation. HP42 flies by. Then over the sea to northern France. To Le Bourget airfield. Landing over a squadron of French fighter planes, probably over Dugny base on the far side of the airfield. Touching down by the airfield sign which looks like the London Transport logo with a bar through a circle. Taxiing to the terminal past a Hillman Airways DH Dragon plus Morane and Caudron types. Past the aviation terminal. Buffet.
On to Brindisi. Boarding the short S17 Kent flying boat G-ABFC for the trip to Athens, Greece. During refuelling the passengers disembark through a big cargo door. They are taken ashore by a launch for a sightseeing tour of Athens, the Parthenon and the Royal Palace. They then get back on board the flying boat. The galley. A steward serves coffee and biscuits.
On to Alexandria in the S17 G-ABFB Sylvanus. Into the Imperial Airways office. Then onto Cairo flying over the Pyramids. Passengers then transfer to Heliopolis to continue the flight by HP42 G-AAXE Hengist. The airfield is compacted sand. No runways. During take off the HP42 passes over the RAF camp and Vickers Valentias and Westland Wapitis are seen. Flying over the suburbs of Cairo, Egypt. Over the pyramids again and turn on course for Assuit where the aircraft takes a refuelling stop. Upside down shot of the engines. Down the Nile. Over the Valley of the Kings. Colossus of Memnon. Karnak. To Luxor still in the Hengist where the passengers visit Tutankhamun's tomb. At Aswan we meet HP42 G-AAVC Horsa and see the passengers disembarking, ladies first. Aswan dam. Aircraft is serviced. Back on board for take off. Then flying over Abu Simbel. Nest refuelling stop is Wadi Halfa where passengers stay overnight in the new Wadi Halfa hotel. Next morning on to Kareima (still in Horsa) to refuel and on to Khartoum flying over city and river. After landing passengers visit General Gordon statue and take refreshments before leaving for Omdurman in the Sudan, see how the other half lives.
An early start next morning passing over the new dam at Auliya and landing at Malakal Aerodrome for refuelling (again) by some very young looking Africans. While this is going on the travellers are in a tent enjoying 'an appetising lunch' but of what they don't say. Malakal seems to have only one tree and a ramshackle building which turns out to be the ladies loo. Meanwhile a native warrior overseas the refuelling. The plane then flies off again across the swamps dodging flocks of birds who are attracted by the 'floating sudd' whatever that may be. Camera films the running engines, with moving pistons. Onwards to Juba for a night stop, where greater bustard birds are followed (look like ostriches).
Then on to Uganda. More shots of the engines. Fly over game parks to see the crocodile slipping into the swamp. Come down at Entebbe following the approach over Lake Victoria. Aileron mass balance weight. More refuelling of the G-AAXE Hengist and after take off air to air shots of the Northbound HP42 passing over Lake Victoria. On to Kisumu. A change of plane here to the Armstrong Whitworth AW15 landplane (Imperial Airway's first monoplane) G-ABTG Amalthea which seems very modern with its four cowled Armstrong Siddeley Serval engines of 375 horse power. Flying over Suswa crater and Nairobi in G-ABTI Atalanta (registration under the wing may be painted upside down). Aircraft is unloaded and the passengers disembark while the aerodrome is tended by prisoners with an armed guard. A change of aircraft to G-ABTH Andromeda and after refuelling off across the Kenya game park to Moshi flying near Kilimanjaro and landing at Dodoma in G-ABTJ Artemis. Off again, aerial shots of lions, bucks and giraffes, shadows show how low the plane is.
To Mbeya, then Mpika then Broken Hill. G-ABTI Atalanta taxies in with wing registration looking normal this time. Views of rest houses and hangar with a Leopard Moth. To Lusaka, where another Leopard Moth can be seen. After flying over government buildings, arrival at Salisbury in G-ABTG Amalthea where we meet Artemis again (obviously not filmed in sequence this). Unloading mail and refuelling again. Passengers go sightseeing in Salisbury, Rhodes' statue and an ox cart. Fly off again in Atalanta to the rest house in Bulawayo, passengers seem to be carrying their own luggage for a change. Aerial view over Rhodes' tomb and across the Limpopo river. A long sequence follows of chasing the aircraft's shadow to Pietersburg (Lughwe) in G-ABTI. Over big city of Pretoria and the South African Air Force headquarters at Roberts Heights (Zwartkop) over biplane fighters, possibly Hawker Furies.
Johannesburg from the air, looks like Croydon (???), then touch down at Rand airport by Amalthea. Unloading luggage. Hangars are closed. Off goes Atalanta again, hotly pursued by a man on a bike. Kimberley next via diamond mines, landing at Victoria West aerodrome where we meet G-ABTH Andromeda and see the only lady aerodrome superintendent, Miss Vera Kempen hop out of an aircraft. Off again over the Hex River mountains which are 10000 feet high to our destination Cape Town in Artemis. A light American aircraft in the hangar and Andromeda loading with Table Mountain in the background.

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