View Full Version : Flying Boats to East Africa

25th Jul 2012, 17:32
I know there has been previous discussion on flying boat service to East Africa, but I am still unable to trace any photos or details of the BOAC flying boat station on Lake Naivasha.
In August ( I think it must have been August) 1949, I was a 5 year old passenger on Solent Flying Boat G-AKNO. I know that it was this plane as my mother told me that it was the aircraft's second commercial trip and it had been named 'City of London'. A BA historian filled in the details for me.
I have press cuttings of G-AKNO taxing through Tower Bridge into the Pool of London for the naming ceremony.
I know that once we reached Naivasha, we were taken up the Escarpment to Nairobi in station wagons and spent the night at a hotel on Delamere Avenue before flying down to Mombasa the next day where my father was waiting for us. Even after all these years I remember the fried eggs and tomato sauce we had for supper - luxury following the after the war rationing!! My father had travelled out to Tanganyika some 18 months previously to work on the 'ill fated' Ground Nut Scheme'.
I'm a retired Master Mariner who has been fascinated by planes all my life - G-AKNO was my first flight and I have a record of all my 1,319 commercial flights since then. Sorry for the length but would like any info on that wonderful short lived flying boat service.

Agaricus bisporus
27th Jul 2012, 09:10
I think Alexander Frater's book "Beyond the Blue Horizon" will contain quite a lot of detail on this service.

27th Jul 2012, 09:55
not what you are looking for but ......


27th Jul 2012, 10:12
My dear old (late) Dad was a BOAC Navigator for a while on flying boats.

Checked through his old log books and came up with:

08/8/49 Solent G-AHIV Khartoum - Naivasha.

10/8/49 Solent G-AHIN Naivasha - Khartoum, Khartoum - Alex.

12/8/49 Solent G-AKNS Alex - Augusta.

Pretty much his last flights as a Nav. He became a pilot, flew briefly with BOAC, then left and ended up in East African Airways.

Growing up in Kenya, we used to go fishing on Naivasha, sometimes staying in the lake hotel there. I recall him saying it was the crew rest hotel for the flying-boat crews and that the capt had his own table for dinner; the rest of the crew sat together elsewhere.

There are some photos in the attic, if I can find them,I'll look through them for anything that might fit the bill.


27th Jul 2012, 12:40
This is from Peter Davis' book "East African: An Airline Story". No idea of the copyright situation, no offence intended etc.


I think the flying-boat service actually operated from the Lake Naivasha Hotel. If so, then from the jetty in the foreground: also if so, then I walked along it in the early 90s, although in a much more tumbledown state (both me and the jetty). Probably many years earlier too, but memory fails me.

There was also a prog on the telly sometime in the 70s/80s about a team who re-created the flying-boat service with a Catalina. When they landed on the Nile at Khartoum an elderly local got all excited and dragged out a black snake from a tumbledown and abandoned shed. Upon examination however the snake was a rubber hose, part of the old Imperial Airways refuelling equipment, all forgotten about and lying there untouched ever since. Nothing special about Naivasha, unfortunately.

Meanwhile, Delamere Avenue really takes me back. I used to live there, but it hasn't been called that for many years now. I could carry on but I'd probably start mumbling.........

27th Jul 2012, 16:44
See the excellent book "Corsairville: the Lost Domain of the Flying Boat" for some fascinating stuff on flying them in East Africa, including the recovery of Corsair (no, not an F4U) after a forced landing.

27th Jul 2012, 17:25
Slight thread drift...
My great aunt used to tell me about the Empire Flying Boats of the 1920s/30s from Southampton Water to Table Bay via (IIRC) the Italian lakes (not sure if that was in one hop) then to the Nile. Next was Lake Victoria and then somewhere for the Johannesburg/Pretoria area but I can't recall where. The Vaal Dam was not completed until 1938. Then down to Table Bay for Cape Town.

She spoke of the wonderful hotels and dining at the Captain's table. They must have been very noisy and bumpy journesy but I was only 12 and didn't know that I'd be interested in the subject all these years later! She marvelled at how fast the journey was - only 5 days from the UK to South Africa! It was then nearly three weeks by boat, which came down to 11.5 days by the time the Union-Castle Line closed.

back on thread and the Short Solent, this from WikiP:
On 4 May 1948 BOAC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Overseas_Airways_Corporation) introduced Short Solent (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_Solent) flying boats on the UK (Southampton) to South Africa (Vaaldam) service.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaal_dam#cite_note-2) The small village of Deneysville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deneysville) was used as a stop-over point by the old BOAC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Overseas_Airways_Corporation) flying boats.

To the OP: If you seach the net simply for 'G-AKNO', you will get several images (some marked with copyright) about tyour machine and the aircrfat type.

Agaricus bisporus
27th Jul 2012, 18:56
Gruntie, I took one look at that pic and instantly thought it was the Lake Naivasha Hotel jetty too - oddly I was there in the early '90s too...

longer ron
27th Jul 2012, 19:06
There was also a prog on the telly sometime in the 70s/80s about a team who re-created the flying-boat service with a Catalina.

'The Last African Flying Boat'
Excellent programme,one of the Pax was the above mentioned Alexander Frater...

27th Jul 2012, 21:31
There was also a prog on the telly sometime in the 70s/80s about a team who re-created the flying-boat service with a Catalina.
'The Last African Flying Boat'

Think I have it video, wonderful piece of television, from the 1990s -anyone got it on DVD?

28th Jul 2012, 08:54
Attic check complete; some photos of interest, possibly. Will try to scan in and post in a day or two, at work presently.

Stepwilk is dead right about "Corsairville" which is an enthralling story. I love the idea of the chief pilot telling his Captain " you put it down there, now it's fixed, you go and get it back!"

Shame he didn't add "and don't crash it again!"

Capt. Caspereusus who features in the book I seem to recall, as the skipper who returned to land after levelling off in the cruise and discovering his favourite boiled sweets had been forgotten was a pal of the old man. He must have either lived in Kenya in retirement or visited often as I remember him in our house outside Nairobi a few times. My Dad used to tell the story of the sweets.

Imagine that today and Imagine a chief pilot like that. Wonder how long his risk assessment took!

Regards to all, all-nighter tonight then 2 weeks off. Yay! May even end up in the US for my annual float-plane fix.


28th Jul 2012, 09:51
"My great aunt used to tell me about the Empire Flying Boats of the 1920s/30s from Southampton Water to Table Bay via (IIRC) the Italian lakes."

Very interested to read this, as I've been to the northern Italian lakes (Garda, Maggiore, Como) quite a few times, but I've never seen any old photos in shops there showing flying boats. Can anyone fill in any details on this and/or post a photo or two?

And did Acquila ever fly to the Italian lakes-my parents flew to Madeira in 1954 on their honeymoon, with Acquila.

28th Jul 2012, 11:55
Well that's why I said 'If I recall correctly'! I only wish that I'd paid attention and asked to look at the photo album. But you know what 12 yr old boys are like. ;) Besides, the old lady was TERRIFYING!!!

28th Jul 2012, 13:14
Proplinerman....Imperial (and BOAC briefly) used Lago Bracciano for Rome up to Italy's entry into WWII.The Vigna di Valle Museum is there now so maybe they've got archive material. There is a little on the net showing a modernist terminal shared by Imperial and Ala Littoria.
TUSCIA ROMANA INFO | Vigna di Valle | Aeroscalo intercontinentale - Approfondimento (http://www.tusciaromana.info/5Turismo/t_mus_vdv_aeroscalo.htm) L
Bracciano was prone to low clouds (the rock stuffed kind!) making approaches difficult ,diversions being made to Lago Paola between Rome and Naples. It's all in Brian Cassidy's Flying Empires which he has most generously put on line in searchable PDF form

Here's a line of Empires flying boats at Bracciano ca. 1939?


28th Jul 2012, 13:24
BSD....pic of Captain Caspareuthus on
Imperial Airways captain poses beside his boat - PortCities Southampton (http://www.plimsoll.org/resources/SCCMuseums/10028.asp)

He set up a air taxi/charter company in Africa post-war, I believe

29th Jul 2012, 06:44
When we lived in Uganda 10 years or so ago we went on regular visits to Lake Naivasha (it being our nightstop to and from the Masai Mara).

We visited the Lake Naivaisha Country Club there and found it had been the old flying boat station (for Imperial Airways). The 'hotel' had quite a few photos of the flying boats (as did Joy Adamson's house/museum a few kms west along the lake shore) and my recollection is that it had also been the BOAC station postwar.

The resort website says:-

Lake Naivasha Country Club became famous in the 1930's as a staging post for Imperial Airways' flying boat service from Durban to London. The Old Colonial architecture is solid and comfortable with accommodation in rooms and cottage set in 12 hectares of green lawns shaded by mature acacias and spreading fever trees.

29th Jul 2012, 11:47
Toscana has it. The place has gone through a few name changes: first Sparks’ Hotel (in the Imperial era), then Lake Naivasha Hotel, then Lake Naivasha Country Club.

Naivasha is a shallow freshwater lake, with no visible oulet. It dried out completely around 1900: it now seems to be doing it again, probably due over-irrigation by the flower-growers. Net result is that “Crescent Island" (presumably just that at the time, an actually the just-submerged blowhole from an extinct volcano) just offshore from the Club, has now formed virtually a complete circle which would then isolate the Club from the lake.

There is a rumour that a strip was bashed on here for the flying scenes in “Out of Africa”. If so it just adds to the confusion.

As mentioned both Agaricus and I were there in the 90s. I was probably also there in the 60’s: I don’t remember the Club, but I do remember a laden Fiat Multipla (the original, not the modern pastiche) proceeding towards the old road built by Italian PoW. Every time the driver hit the dipswitch, all the lights went out.

Somewhere I also have a pic of an Imperial ‘boat floating off the end of that jetty, altough I have no idea where now. A good source however would be the Aero Club of East Africa at Wilson: or the Club itself. Be aware though that anything pre-Uhuru is unknown to most of the locals.

29th Jul 2012, 12:05
Post war, he was for a period the Chief/Staff Pilot for the East African DCA and at various times also involved in commercial aviation in East Africa

Amongst the companies he was involved in was Seychelles and Kilimanjaro Air Transport and Caspair - both of these companies later came under the remit of East African Airways

My Dad was a an occasional drinking pal and my Mum worshipped him!!!, I have vague memories of him in Entebbe when Caspair operated Rapides in Uganda and around Lake Victoria

I understand that at his funeral in Cape Town - BA organised a B747 fly by

PZULBA - Out of Africa (Retired)

29th Jul 2012, 12:38
I don't know what it is about Kenya but it does get the "Whenwe" tribe going (as in "when we" were in Kenya). I was a civil engineer in the late 60s and we were doing some work in raising the Sasumua Dam to provide more water for Nairobi. I was looking through the files for the earlier work and there was a reference suggesting that the UK partners of the consulting firm should come out on the last flying boat service to check progress on a previous scheme. Little did I think a pprune forum would jog that particular brain cell 40 years later. The only other thing I can add is that the Catalina used in the film struggled to get out of Lake Naivasha with it's passengers and they were offloaded and taken to Nairobi. Density altitude is a killer there, 5000 feet altitude and 30 degrees F. Happy days though.

29th Jul 2012, 13:30
Google Earth show that the Crescent Island is now a circle. The club, red tiled roofs and all, is still there. There is an airstrip by the southwestern corner of the lake by the 'flower jetty' adjacent to Kongoni.

29th Jul 2012, 15:02
Many thanks for all these interesting comments. There is certainly a lot of nostalgia around the topics of Flying Boats and East Africa.
A30yoyo, thanks for that - the name Caspareuthus is well known to me as his son was a very good friend of my brothers when they were at the Duke of York School Nairobi.
My brother, John Barry Hobson, who was a land surveyor / civil engineer worked on many ground projects in East / Central Africa. He worked on the runway upgrade at Port Reitz, Mombasa in 1960/61 and then on the new runway at Plaisance Airport, Mauritius in the late 1960s.
Steve Hobson

29th Jul 2012, 22:14
Photo of G-AFBJ Carpentaria Naivasha WWII
Short S.23 Empire (http://1000aircraftphotos.com/Contributions/MillsStephen/6434.htm)

Aquila flew to Santa Margherita, Italy in 1956, and wrote off G-ANAJ , lower down on:
md80.it • Leggi argomento - Cartoline postali d'epoca degli aeroporti italiani (http://www.md80.it/bbforum/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=32600&st=0&sk=t&sd=a)
and also served Montreux ,Lake Geneva in 1957 according to:
http://archive.pooleflyingboats.com/12%20A%20Compelling%20Swansong%20Aquila,%20Artop%20and%20TEA L.pdf

30th Jul 2012, 11:14
Alex Frater's fascinating book "Beyond the Blue Horizon" is about the flying boat service to Australia, not Africa.

A March 1949 BOAC timetable (Table 13)


shows the Solent flying boats operating through Kampala only, Nairobi only being served by land planes. Did they change during the year ?

30th Jul 2012, 16:56
Thanks WHBM.
I have a print of Timetable No.13 ( unfortunately undated but certainly 1949)
Showing the following schedule.
Airways terminal London Dep 1515 Day 2
Southampton Dep 0800 Day 3
Augusta Arr 1500
Dep 1600
Alexandria Arr 2200
Dep 2330
Khartoum Arr 0530 Day 4
Dep 0630
Naivasha Arr 1400
Dep 1500
Dar-es Salaam Arr 1730

This indeed fits in with my recollection, spending a night in a hotel in the New Forest before embarking, taxiing in Alex at nightime ( I recall the steward saying we've run over the boy and being very upset!! Of course he meant buoy, but I was not to know that !!) and then disembarking in Naivasha and arriving in Nairobi by car when it was dark. I was only 5 at the time but I have a very vivid memory of these events !

So it's likely the Naivasha leg was added in the Summer of 1949.

30th Jul 2012, 19:41
It looks as though the Solent service started in May 1949 and lasted less than 18 months.
According to Flightglobal it operated 3 times a week,Southampton/Augusta/Alexandria/Khartoum/L.Naivasha.

30th Jul 2012, 21:47
Renfrew....Think it was May 1948?
south africa | photographs inlwgural | south african | 1948 | 0765 | Flight Archive (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1948/1948%20-%200765.html?search=BOAC)
What does the Bray book have to say about going back to flying-boats so late in the day?

31st Jul 2012, 01:03
Thanks so much for posting the article A30yoyo. Three points that made me smile:

From near the start:
To every passenger on board it was the first flight in a Solent, and first impressions are always important. We heard comments about the smooth take-off, the short run, powerful climb, early throttling back and, from the landlubbers, the smooth taxying and the complete absence of any feeling of swing and corrective braking during the take-off; all of which built up a feeling of security. It was the rational method of flying, we concluded.They experienced a magneto failure and departed 7hrs late:
A short night was spent in the barrack-like buildings rented by B.O.A.C., and the next morning, back on the original schedule, we took off in brilliant sunshine for Cairo, passing over the ancient city of Syracuse as we left the island.So they left 7 hrs late but the crew absorbed that and got back on schedule!

At the end, after landing on the Vaal Dam:
The South African Press welcomed the Solent, and travelagents in Johannesburg were again enthusiastic. They were sympathetic towards British aviation and appreciated the difficulties under which the airlines are operating; but it was generally felt that although B.O.A.C. had no alternative but to operate the flying boat, its popularity and future success were assured.
Ah, yes, but no possibility of knowing for how long ... When did the flying boat service close?

31st Jul 2012, 18:44
Thanks WHBM.
I have a print of Timetable No.13 ( unfortunately undated but certainly 1949)
Showing the following schedule.
Airways terminal London Dep 1515 Day 2
Southampton Dep 0800 Day 3
Naivasha Arr 1400
Dep 1500
Dar-es Salaam Arr 1730

Yes, I've now moved on to the July 1949 timetable in my collection (sorry, no electronic copy) which shows almost this, so changed between March and July. BO 155 Departs Southampton 0830 Mon Fri Sun to "Nairobi", BO 157 departs 0730 Wed through to Dar es Salaam. These are notable flights for the flying boats because they operated right through the night without the customary hotel stops, to get from Southampton to Nairobi in 30 hours.

Also in the timetable is a decidedly more leisurely and traditional service which left Southampton at 1130 on Tue Wed Fri (thus allowing a morning train from London), nightstopping at Augusta, Luxor, Kampala and Victoria Falls, taking 5 days to Johannesburg. This was the sort of service that just became uncompetitive against South African Airways DC4s, who got to Jo'burg in 2 days and one night.

My BOAC history makes no reference to this new East African service, strangely, but little over a year later, 7 November 1950, the final BOAC flying boat ran, on the Jo'burg run. The Far East routes were given up in Autumn 1949. The Hermes took over Johannesburg via Nairobi, but 18 months later, May 1952, the Comet was introduced to Jo'burg. What a transformation in a short time.

2nd Aug 2012, 18:25
Just to add that Charles Woodley's book on BOAC seems to give the answer to :

What does the Bray book have to say about going back to flying-boats so late in the day? .

The Handley Page Hermes was ordered in April 1947 for deliveries starting in June 1948, to take over the Africa routes from their mixture of converted wartime types. The first Hermes never turned up until two years late, in 1950, and it was this type that took over the Nairobi run on 6 August 1950. The flying boat service to Lake Naivasha from May 1949 therefore seems to have been just a temporary operation, for little more than a year, to overcome a considerable shortage of aircraft. I presume they didn't have anything else.

2nd Aug 2012, 19:34
Trying to make sense of the constantly changing timetables of this period is difficult.In hindsight some of the decisions seem distinctly odd.
As you say it all comes back to a lack of aircraft and the failure of the Tudor was a major setback.
The Solents were leased from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Hermes was purely a stopgap.
Things did finally start to improve when the Argonauts arrived.

The Solent service to Dar es Salaam was in connection with the ill fated groundnut scheme.
I notice there was another short lived stop at Lake Nyasa on the Johannesburg service.

2nd Aug 2012, 21:34
For about 10 years after 1945 most BOAC purchasing decisions seem to have been a fiasco. Tudor, Hermes, Comet 1, Britannia were, respectively, late and unusable, late and useless, with a fatal design flaw, and years late. Only the Argonaut worked out well. Even the DC7Cs bought as a stopgap when the Britannias didn't show up suffered from huge and unallowed for fall in value the day the proper jets came along.

2nd Aug 2012, 22:19
Didn't BOAC put Yorks on the S. Africa route after the Empire boats were withdrawn in 1946 and the Durban base closed, then reintroduced flying-boats with the Solents? The letter columns of Flight magazine were full of the flying-boat vs. landplane debate throughout 1947/1948 after an anti-boat article by Capt. David Brice who knew from years of flying-boat experience all their drawbacks, although Flight was not itself anti-boat at that time
1947 | 1736 | Flight Archive (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1947/1947%20-%201736.html?search=flying) boat david brice

29th Jan 2013, 00:35
Just returned from visiting the Short Solent at the Oakland Aviation Museum in California, which re-kindled memories of when we emigrated from the UK to East Africa in the summer of 1950, when I had just turned 8.

The memories are a bit fuzzy, but I do remember that we had an overnight in a hotel before boarding at Southhampton, where my father and I took off, destination Augusta, Sicily. Unfortunately two engines packed up over France, and we did a forced landing in the harbour at Marseille, France, where they were able to patch things up and send us on our way. I remember feeling both airsick bumping around in the air over France, and seasick bobbing around in the harbour at Marseille.

One engine packed up again en route to Augusta, so we wound up spending a week in a hotel in Sicily at BOAC's expense waiting for the next weekly service to bring us the necessary engine parts. Then on to Alexandria, Khartoum, Entebbe and Lake Navaisha, Nairobi, where my grandfather, who was working in Nairobi, met us.

I don't believe we stopped at Luxor, but do seem to recall that we landed somewhere at night, so this was not the "daylight only" service to my recollection.

My father then went on to his new job in Tanganyika, and I was parked with the grandparents in Nairobi, subsequently doing four years at boarding school at the Southern Highlands School near Iringa. After passing Common Entrance it was back to the UK for six years more of boarding school.

I was a big trainspotting fan, and this is the Webpage that has some of my contemporary photos and magazines from the EAR&H era.

EAR&H (http://energeticproductions.com/EARandH/index.htm)

29th Jan 2013, 09:55

Welcome to the forum !!! I have PM'd you.


29th Jan 2013, 10:54
Fans, thank you for joining, an interesting account.

The stop at Marseille would be not in the harbour (which is quite small) but at the large inland lake Etang de Berre, which was (and still is) alongside the landplane airport. This was a regular stop for some of the Imperial flying boats, as well as the main base for the Air France Mediterranean flying boat fleet, which was quite sizeable, and would have all the kit for engine work on the water.

The day/night issue was dependent to a great extent on the crewing. Unlike present-day operations, the crew would stay with the same flying boat, often for several days, so needed to have stops along the way. There might still be night water landings along flare paths at the end of the day. In one account I have of UK to Australia, the same crew did Southampton to Karachi, about three days, and then a second crew did Karachi to Singapore, and a third Singapore to Brisbane, all about the same length, with night stops.

31st Jan 2013, 16:12
For a brilliant read by a "ppruner" who flew from Poole Harbour to Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar) in the Short C (Empire) Class flying boat Caledonia in 1940 have a look at the link. OK it was nine-years earlier and flown during the war, but is wonderfully descriptive account of what flying in a flying boat is all about. Here:

3rd Feb 2013, 09:17
There was a wonderful 1 & 1/2 hour BBC documentary broadcast back in 1980 called "The flying boats" and presented by a David Lomax. It featured great footage of the Imperial Airways flying boats and interviews with the then-still-living flying boat captains and passengers. As a Flying boat enthusiast , I kept that old video tape and consider it the best of its kind I ever saw on TV. Don't think anyone has ever posted it on Youtube, I cound't find it anyway, unless someone proves me wrong. If I can figure out how to post it I'll do so for everyone else to enjoy. Watch this space...

3rd Feb 2013, 22:33
As we are reviving an old thread with fresh input, whilst I am working on getting the previously mentioned documentary up and running, I noticed previous mentions to another documentary "The last african flying boat", again another excellent and unique documentary starring Alexander Frater. I found this also in my collection and will try, again, in due course to make it available for you to see.

India Four Two
4th Feb 2013, 04:48

The Last African Flying Boat is apparently available as a bit torrent. I'll try downloading it this evening.

I couldn't find The Flying Boats.

(once did a scheduled flight in a Mallard, with a water-landing and take-off :ok:)

4th Feb 2013, 17:31
India Four Two, hi.
After hours of converting dvd files into a format that is acceptable by youtube, I have been uploading the documentary for the past six hours and there's another so much to go ! Its the first time I've ever uploaded to youtube and it seems geared to clips of 10-15 mins. A full length documentary is uploaded at one's own peril ! But, patience, its coming . I don't trust bit torrents, too many viruses etc, but I'll tackle that one to upload once I see that Flying Boats is up and running succesfully.

4th Feb 2013, 19:12
once did a scheduled flight in a Mallard, with a water-landing and take-off :ok:)
Miami to Bahamas with Chalks ?

Years ago, passing through Miami, I drove down to their terminal, it was a bit deserted but I asked about a round trip to the Bahamas on the boat. It was about $200 and I felt at the time it was a bit much. Wish I had gone, now, though. I ended up just with a Chalk's t-shirt from the counter.

4th Feb 2013, 22:17
At last, success, here it is. I hope you enjoy it. Last African Flying boat next.


India Four Two
5th Feb 2013, 01:06
Miami to Bahamas with Chalks ?

No, BC Airlines out of Vancouver in the 1970s. A colleague and I were flying on business to Tofino on Vancouver Island. Tofino is a WWII land airfield, so I was quite surprised to see a Mallard at the gate.

It turned out that the schedule was Tofino, Tahsis (a logging community with no airfield) and back to Vancouver. Departure was delayed while we watched an engineer working on something in the tail, with his legs sticking out of a hatch into the cabin!

Eventually when ready to go, the captain comes over and says "Since we are late and all the other passengers are going to Tahsis, would you mind if we went there first?" Would I mind? :ok:

So I got to experience a water landing, taxi onto and off a slipway and a water takeoff. Tahsis Inlet is a very long, sheltered fiord. It was flat calm that day and the takeoff run was at least a mile!

5th Feb 2013, 01:38
Great piece of history.

6th Feb 2013, 18:56
As promised, here is "The Last African Flying Boat" in its entirety for all to enjoy. I hope you like it.

The Last African Flying boat full documentary - YouTube

7th Feb 2013, 12:20
cyflyer, I have just watched 'The Flying Boats' documentary, and found it absolutely fascinating. I was particularly pleased to see so many scenes featuring the flying boats produced by Short Bros, because my uncle was employed by the company during WW2 working on Sunderlands. He managed to arrange a visit for me and my mother to the Rochester works in 1944, when I was an aeroplane-mad 5 year old. I remember being led into an assembly hall where a completed Sunderland was positioned ready for launching through the huge doors down a concrete slipway leading to the River Medway. My uncle's boss took me by the hand and led me across closer to the aircraft, and memorably asked me with a smile, "Would you like me to put a string on the front sonny, so you can take it home with you?" Daft, of course, but I have never forgotten it!

The scene in your Youtube video where several former aircrew visited the preserved example at the Hendon RAF Museum was very evocative, since I have also examined that one, both inside and out. I also went inside the 'Plane Sailing' Catalina when it was open to visits for a small fee, at the Biggin Hill air show 6 or 7 years ago. I recall chatting with the watchful fellow keeping an eye on the cockpit area while I took a few pics, and it transpired that the 'Catalina' was strictly a 'Canso', since it was built in Canada. I will next be watching your second Youtube video, 'The Last African Flying Boat', with keen anticipation.

Many thanks for taking the trouble to transpose these historic aviation records to Youtube, so that many can enjoy the priceless experience.

7th Feb 2013, 14:20
Check that dreaded SA river for

Empire Flying Boat Manual: Owners Workshop Manual- An insight into owning, servicing and flying the Short S.23 'C' Class Empire flying boats: Amazon.co.uk: Brian Cassidy: Books

PZU - Out of Africa (Retired)

8th Feb 2013, 11:33
603DX I am so glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for your kind words. I am glad I hoarded so many of those older documentaries from way back then, and kept them. They were the best. They don't make them them like that any more, mainly I believe because they feature so many people who were on those aircraft, and still had living memories of those times. Sadly, I think none of them are with us any longer.
All though its a bit of a slog getting them onto youtube for others to enjoy, I may have some more, and will gradually get them up. I know I have something else called "Edward's Flying Boat" somewhere.........
Let us know what you think of "The Last African Flying Boat"

8th Feb 2013, 15:45
Well cyflyer, I have now just finished watching your second documentary, "The Last African Flying Boat", and found it absolutely magical! Linking the bold exploratory Catalina journey to the old 1930's Empire flying boat routes was an inspired decision, and beautifully filmed by the BBC in about 1990 I believe, the date given in the end titles.

I was enthralled by the almost "Cook's Tour" of wondrous places visited on the epic journey by the elderly flying boat, as I have been to many of them myself, either on holidays or in the course of my work as an engineer in Africa. The scenes at Cairo, flying over the pyramids, up the Nile, over Karnak temple, to Aswan and the Old Cataract Hotel (where I took "tiffin" with my wife) were gratifyingly familiar. I worked for a time at Kisumu on Lake Victoria, and lunched on the veranda of the Lake Naivasha Hotel, on fresh fish caught in the lake. Nairobi, too, was another place where I spent quite a lot of time.

Glad to hear that you have more in the pipeline, and I await "Edward's Flying Boat" eagerly! Again, many thanks.

8th Feb 2013, 16:38
I did manage a Chalks flight Miami/Bimini at a reasonable price.
A tremendous experience taking off from among the cruise ships in the harbour.
I wanted my passport stamped in Bimini but when the immigration man turned up on a scooter he said noone had asked that before and he didn't possess a stamp.

Beside the Chalks terminal there was a Goodyear Blimp offering trips and I have always regretted that I didn't find the extra cash to do both trips.

India Four Two
12th Feb 2013, 05:10
As promised, here is "The Last African Flying Boat" in its entirety for all to enjoy.


Thanks for posting. A fascinating documentary, with the characters just as interesting as the flying.

Two comments. Wearing my pilot's hat, there is a dreadful porpoised landing at about 9 minutes, which could have ended the trip prematurely.

Changing hats, there is a very odd commentary by Alexander Frater about crossing the Equator as they fly by the very distinctive Teleki's Volcano at the south end of Lake Turkana. The volcano is 145 nm north of the equator. :=

13th Feb 2013, 09:26
Yes, India Four Two, I also noticed the anomaly regarding the location of the equator mentioned after take off from Lake Turkana bound for Kisumu.
In fact they would not have crossed the line until shortly after starting the next Kisumu-Naivasha leg, since the equator is actually about 15 miles south of Kisumu.

The black and white film sequence showing the facilities being used by the Imperial Airways 'Empire' flying boats at Kisumu set me thinking. There is a hotel there called the Imperial, which was there then, and still exists under that name. It is still recognised as the best in Kisumu, so I would not be surprised if it was occasionally used for overnight stays back then. I stayed there in 1990, and found it very comfortable - a bit of a time warp of a venue.

India Four Two
13th Feb 2013, 09:35

Thinking about it, I suspect the commentary had already been recorded and the film editors decided that the view out of the window for the real line-crossing was too boring, so they spliced in something more dramatic.

13th Feb 2013, 09:42
Never let the facts get in the way of a pretty picture," the film editors handbook" circa the year dot.

India Four Two
14th Feb 2013, 03:22

You confirmed my suspicions. :ok:

BA Concorde
17th Feb 2013, 09:45
I have for some time been studying the remarkable career of Captain Dudley Travers DFC, a Master Air Pilot, and one of BOAC's most famous flying boat Captains. He regularly flew the route to South Africa via Lake Naivasha, and loved it so much, that when he retired, he and his wife Joan lived nearby. When he died his ashes were scattered on the lake.
Some years ago, I remember seeing on the internet a short video clip of Dudley, complete in white flying overalls, walking from his aircraft along the pier from his aircraft. I lost the URL reference in a computer crash (before I learned to do regular backups) and have been unable to locate it since. I know that it is the longest of long shots, but does anyone on the forum have any idea where it may be tucked away?
I have copies of Dudley's logbooks - he flew over 2 million miles in his career, and even appeared by live link from Nairobi in 1959 when Captain O P 'Opie' Jones was the subject of TV's "This is your Life".

17th Feb 2013, 10:45
the remarkable career of Captain Dudley Travers DFC

I assume you seen the reference to him in the "Last african flying boat" at about the 45" mark. ?

17th Feb 2013, 11:54
Regarding the "Last African Flying Boat", I couldn't help thinking where did the operation end up that the, frenchman was launching. I remembered that there was a follow up article in April 1994 in the magazine "Air Pictorial". After rumaging though piles of old magazines I found it. I scanned the four pages and am posting it here as best as I can for anyone to read that wants to follow up on the story. I hope its readable.





Also I found this currently on the web,

Pierre Jaunet, African Safaris, Private Safari Guides, Safari Camps, Safari Lodges : Bushbuck Safaris (http://www.bushbucksafaris.com/african-safaris.asp?PropertyID=2789&t=dg)

BA Concorde
17th Feb 2013, 13:20
Dudley Travers
No, I had not seen that particular interview - thank you. What was even better however, was at 43'35" we could see Dudley in the cockpit (that large square chin is a dead give-away), and later on the ground with the passengers! I shall have to check the historical videos released by BA and find the documentary that it came from. Thanks again.

23rd Feb 2013, 09:08
Here is "Edward's Flying Boat". Happy viewing.


23rd Feb 2013, 11:34
Superb, cyflyer! I loved it! Built in 1944 at Rochester as a Mk.III Sunderland, it is just possible that Edward's flying boat was the very one that I saw as a little lad ready for launching into the Medway that year! (Yes, I know, this would be a long shot, but I can dream, can't I?)

The very chequered life of the old girl is well detailed and photographed in this link:
VH-BRF Short S-25 Sandringham (http://www.aussieairliners.org/shortfb/vh-brf/vhbrf.html)

Once again, many thanks for providing this gem of a video!

23rd Feb 2013, 16:49
603DX, real glad you enjoyed that, and the others. As you've got me in the mood, I'm uploading a couple of more related documentaries I had with it in my aladdins cave for you to enjoy. "Air Boat '95" -a further video made whilst being restored for Edward Hulton, and "The Big Boat of the Islands", detailing its history from the war to its time with Ansett Airlines. Watch this space.

23rd Feb 2013, 17:27
it is just possible that Edward's flying boat was the very one that I saw as a little lad ready for launching into the Medway that year
I have long wondered, on the occasions that I drive across the M2 viaduct and look eastwards down onto the site of the Shorts flying boat works, where did they take off on the river. Obviously the motorway viaduct was not therein those days, but the river has constant curvature. Did the 'boats take off in a curving path ? Did they typically go westbound, into wind, and then land back just skimming Rochester Bridge ?

23rd Feb 2013, 23:03
Here is "Air Boat '95".

Air (Flying) Boat '95 - YouTube

24th Feb 2013, 01:01
CY . . . . for all these labours you deserve something better than a leather medal.

Shortly after the book 'Beyond the Blue Horizon' came out, I enjoyed a
snail correspondence with the author. When in UK recently,
despite best efforts, I could not find AF's address or phone. The ones I should have had with me were back home in OZ. So an opportunity was sadly lost to take up an invitation made ten years earlier.

While over there, a visit to VH-BRC, the Sandringham housed
in the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton, was mandatory. In the mid 60s
at the old Ansett Flying Boat Services base at Rose Bay on Sydney Harbour,
my apprenticeship was served in the hangar there. The two boats on strength then were BRC and BRF.

By the way, do you know the title of that large format hard cover book detailing the history of BRF? A google search failed to bring it up.

Last October my daughter was fortunate enough to be given a guided tour of the workshop and restoration section of the Musee de L'Air at Le Bourget, Paris. Her guide took her up into the wheelhouse of the former VH-APG, the Sandringham operated out of Rose Bay in the 50s by Sir Gordon Taylor on his 'Cruisebird' charters round the South Pacific. The story of these flights and the fascinating lead-up is told in his book 'Bird of the Islands'.

A daughter of the late Sir Gordon has some 8mm colour footage taken on one of the flights to remote SW Pacific islands and atolls. She is going to have then put on DVDs, so you may expect a copy sooner or later.


24th Feb 2013, 07:44
Fantome, I am simply happy that you and other like minded can enjoy them rather than them gathering dust in my cupboards. The next one "Big Boat of the Islands", you will enjoy as it refers back to the airline days back in Australia, of those two Sunderlands you mention, hopefully later today.
I believe the book you are refering to is "The Last Flying Boat" by Peter Smith (the chief engineer who is featured in the videos). I think I read somewhere that he is no longer with us, but someone will correct me if I'm wrong. Your prompt reminded that I had it somewhere and sent me scurrying through my bookshelfs, and lo and behold its in my hand. It turns up on ebay, infact here's one today;

THE LAST FLYING BOAT ML814-ISLANDER, AROUND THE WORLD IN 50 YEARS | eBay (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/THE-LAST-FLYING-BOAT-ML814-ISLANDER-AROUND-THE-WORLD-IN-50-YEARS-/281068937611?pt=Non_Fiction&hash=item417103a18b)

24th Feb 2013, 11:36
Did the 'boats take off in a curving path ? Did they typically go westbound, into wind, and then land back just skimming Rochester Bridge ?

Yes, WHBM, they followed a curving path for part of the take off run, which could be over a mile in length. They could take off and land in either direction to suit the wind direction. For example the maiden flight of the Empire class "Canopus" on 2 July 1936 took off from a position close to Rochester bridge, travelling westwards, and a photograph shows it to be already "on the step" some distance past the castle keep and cathedral spire.

On the occasion of a royal visit to the works by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 14 March 1939, they witnessed a newly built Sunderland take off for its first flight travelling eastwards, lifting off and climbing over the bridge.

24th Feb 2013, 11:41
Here is "The Big Boat of the Islands" , the story of VH-BRC the sandringham housed in the Southampton museum


25th Feb 2013, 14:12

Imperial Airways Shorts S-23 Empire Class flying boat G-ADUY "Capella" moored in front of the Winter Palace Hotel at Luxor along the River Nile in Egypt c.1937

A closer (but rather poor quality) view of Capella's starboard bow revealing her name and the name of her owners; Imperial Airways London

"Capella" carried mail, light cargo and passenger between Southampton and Mombasa in Kenya stopping (among other places) in Luxor, Egypt and in Kisumu (on the western boarder of Kenya on the edge of Lake Victoria) before heading to the coast for Mombasa.

This craft ended her days in Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia) where she was damaged beyond repair.

Imperial Airways Shorts S-30 Empire Class flying boat G-AFCT "Champion" departing Mombasa Harbour c.1940

"Champion" was the first of the improved Empire Flying Boats being re-engined with the Bristol Perseus XIIIC which enabled it to carry a greater payload than the S-23.

25th Feb 2013, 17:10
All this nostalgia! Maybe some readers will appreciate the Poole group that has a remarkable archive of flying boat operations. The meetings are a joy, still attended by former air and ground crew.

Even some East African material if you dig.

Poole Flying Boats Celebration (http://Www.pooleflyingboats.com)


25th Feb 2013, 23:42
There's a splendid collection of flying boat photos BOAC& Pan Am as well as NZ and Australian on
flying boat | Items | National Library of New Zealand (http://natlib.govt.nz/items?i%5Bcategory%5D=Images&page=1&text=flying+boat)

and you can get to the large archive scans too...lots of BOAC history there

28th Feb 2013, 22:20
Superb Cyflyer...thank you so much for posting that video.

I have been showing people around VH-BRC at the Southampton Hall of Aviation (now SolentSky) for 10 years. I thought I knew most there was to know about her, but that video gave me even more information. "The Big Boat of the Islands" is superb stuff.

Beachcomber will be 70 years old in the summer of this year. And she is still in remarkably good condition. We allow visitors free access to all the cabins upstairs and downstairs as well as guided and supervised (often by me) visits to the flight deck up the access ladder. We let visitors sit in the flight seats and stand on the small table to look out of the roof hatch. Many of our visitors are left in awe at an age of aviation that is gone forever.

We have 2 jet fighter cockpits we let visitors sit in. Then we take them up the access ladder onto the flight deck of Beachcomber. I often ask young visitors which aircraft they would really like to fly....almost without exception it is Beachcomber. There is still something very special fired in the imagination by the big boats.

Once again, if anyone from PPRUNE wants to visit VH-BRC in her 70th anniversary year, please send me a message here and I will be delighted to personally show you around.

We are taking very good care of her.

28th Feb 2013, 23:28
Yes Corsairoz, I had a great visit to your museum back in 2011 and I presume you were the gentleman who showed me round VH-BRC. And maybe you took the (very good) photo of me in front of the Spitfire, on my camera.

1st Mar 2013, 11:52
Wow, my favourite aircraft of all time, the Empire Boats, along with my second favourite (well, 1,01 favourite), the Sunderland and its derivatives. One is in 7th Heaven. Thank you very much for posting.

1st Mar 2013, 14:15

Yes, that sounds like me.


2nd Mar 2013, 14:50
Interesting piece of film about a Pan American Airways flying boat

The Long Way Home-The Pacific Clipper.m4v - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=Ms84WfJwalI&feature=pla%20yer_embedded)

2nd Mar 2013, 16:23
A well-made video, radeng. I didn't know anything about that epic event, and in a tight action-packed five minutes or so, it was quite competently related.

Only one thing was a bit odd, the background music - wasn't that a pinch from "633 Squadron"?

2nd Mar 2013, 16:56

I don't know about the music. Was the 633 squadron music written especially for that film, or from somewhere else?

I'm a bit surprised they didn't fly via Tahiti to Chile or Columbia and back that way. Or even possibly direct to Chile from Kiwi. Then cut east over Central America and up the East Coast.

2nd Mar 2013, 23:48
A quick look at the distances on the map will tell you the answer.:ooh:
P G Taylor flew to Chile from Australia in the early 60s I think, he wrote an excellent book about the trip. The take- off from Easter Is with jato help sounds horrifying!:eek:

3rd Mar 2013, 07:20
P G Taylor flew to Chile from Australia in the early 60s I think, he wrote an excellent book about the trip. The take- off from Easter Is with jato help sounds horrifying!
April 1951, in a Catalina

P G Taylor's 1951 South Pacific Flight (http://www.airwaysmuseum.com/Taylor%20Chile%20flight%20crew.htm)

I'm surprised that Avgas was even available at Easter Island.

3rd Mar 2013, 08:59
Was the 633 squadron music written especially for that film, or from somewhere else?

The theme music was written by the British composer Ron Goodwin, specifically for the film.

3rd Mar 2013, 11:35
Bit more on the Pan Am flight

(The Round The World Saga of the (http://www.radiocom.net/Clipper/))
and (Clippers At War @ flyingclippers.com (http://www.flyingclippers.com/clippersatwar.html))

India Four Two
18th Apr 2013, 08:11
Just in case anyone missed it, see the link in this new post

A must read for those who have watched "The Last African Flying Boat" - post #45.

I hadn't realized that the Catalina in this documentary is ZK-PBY, now in New Plymouth. I had a look around her in November and watched an anti-det run of the engines from the cockpit. She's in a sad state at the moment, with one wing off, but the plan is to fix some minor corrosion on the trailing edge (minor from an airframe point-of-view, but major from a labour point-of-view) and replace the fabric.

8th Jun 2013, 21:56
My father was a flight engineer on the proving service to South Africa.

9th Jun 2013, 16:14
April 1951, in a Catalina

P G Taylor's 1951 South Pacific Flight (http://www.airwaysmuseum.com/Taylor%20Chile%20flight%20crew.htm)

Aircraft damaged after colliding with a fruit boat on the Brisbane River (Captain P.G. Taylor) - June 19, 1951

Solent Flying Boat at Oakland Aviation Museum (http://www.oaklandaviationmuseum.org/solent_flying_boat_32.html)

Presumably that evening's dinner menu featured plates piled high with copious quantities of fresh fruit salad - all pieces nicely sliced and diced by virtue of having passed through a propeller's arc.

As Taylor himself designed the uniforms one wonders if subsequent embellished included the addition of 'fruity insignia' to commemorate the Brisbane River engagement.

9th Jun 2013, 16:40
The uniforms for Taylor and crew look like they came out of R(A)AF store, with changed brevets and rank boards, but I may, of course, be wrong! Nevertheless, the flight was an amazing achievement.

31st Jul 2013, 15:04
FAO WHBM/Savoia/et al.[I have long wondered, on the occasions that I drive across the M2 viaduct and look eastwards down onto the site of the Shorts flying boat works, where did they take off on the river. Obviously the motorway viaduct was not therein those days, but the river has constant curvature. Did the 'boats take off in a curving path ? Did they typically go westbound, into wind, and then land back just skimming Rochester Bridge ?]

Don't know the exact take-off path but heres an evocative shot of one from the ridge above the Short Bros factory
Nannies + Charges Watching Flying Boat 1937 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsris/4500572227/)
and larger
All sizes | Nannies + Charges Watching Flying Boat 1937 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsris/4500572227/sizes/o/in/photolist-7RGBjT-7TkLMh/)

31st Jul 2013, 20:47
Yoyo: Sadly I cannot respond with any certitude on this matter, the best I can do is to hazard a guess and which is ..


.. that they probably used the areas denoted by the white rectangles in the aerial view above.

As you say, the M2 bridge was nowhere to be seen and so the westerly of the two suggested take-off areas may have been the preferable location (in fact right in front of the factory). The more easterly option could also have been used most especially (and probably) at high tide.

If anyone can confirm the above that would be grand!

31st Jul 2013, 21:23
My guess is this was the 'Hinds' first takeoff right in front of the Shorts factory
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5043/5275244940_c903d116b2.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mryurigagarin/5275244940/)
S.26 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mryurigagarin/5275244940/) by Mr.YuriGagarin (http://www.flickr.com/people/mryurigagarin/), on Flickr

31st Jul 2013, 21:47
An account in one book describes a first flight, when they were on easterlies, which started in front of the factory, lifted off, and passed low over the town bridges. But it seems a bit of a winding course.

31st Jul 2013, 21:51
The Kent History forum has a few images of the stretch of water near the Shorts factory Golden Hind Moored Rochester in 1951 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=2698.0)

And more on
Short Brothers of Rochester (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=3646.60)

31st Jul 2013, 22:12
Ciao Yoyo!

Your photo (showing All Saints Church Frindsbury) is to the east of Rochester Bridge. My two 'runways' are to the west.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PxicdRkOWQU/UfmEiHHw52I/AAAAAAAANyI/LYLT0yyT2Mc/w673-h323-no/A+photograph+of+the+first+Empire+flying+boat+off+the+line+at +Rochester+%2527HL+CANOPUS+gathering+speed+on+the+River+Medw ay+for+take+off+on+the+first+official+flight+4+July+1936..jp g
Shorts S23 Empire Flying Boat G-ADHL 'Canopus' gathers speed on the River Medway for take off on its first official flight on 4th July 1936

'Canopus' taking off from Rochester

The above photos of G-ADHL places the take-off run at the end of my easterly runway meaning they used part of the river curve before joining up with the westerly 'runway' portrayed in my aerial view.

31st Jul 2013, 23:47
My apologies Savoia/WHBM....I've got all my bearings wrong for that area and I've got to have a rethink, (have edited out previous posts)

1st Aug 2013, 11:20
Yoyo: I can't say for sure that no flying ops took place to the east of the bridge but .. a couple of concerns I would have are; firstly, the bridge itself which, in my view, would have represented a 'snug' fit for the S23 .. tail clearance (especially at high tide) would (I imagine) have been a real concern.

Secondly, river traffic to the east of the bridge during the time of Shorts' stay in Rochester (1915-1948) would have been considerably busier than that on the western portions of the river due in no small measure to the bridge itself which served as a demarcation point for commercial activity with no ships being able to pass beneath it. Most of the materials for the 'Shorts Seaplane Works' were 'tugged' in lighters.

Of course .. some 10-15 miles to the east of the bridge is the Isle of Sheppey where the brothers Eustace, Oswald and Horace Short built their first aircraft factory!

Rochester Bridge .. depicting the somewhat limited clearance available for the Empire Boats to pass beneath

In your original post you mentioned the B-39 submarine. My UK sources inform me that she is still moored just east of the bridge and that within the past month she has been 'righted' having sported a keen list to starboard for some time.

The sub's owner has named the boat the 'Black Widow' (part of some sort of PR campaign I suppose) and at one point she used to be open to the public. Some details here (http://www.medwaylines.com/blackwidowsubmarine.htm) and here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_U-475_Black_Widow).

The B-39, a 'Foxtrot Class' Russian submarine moored to the east of Rochester Bridge not far from the site of the Shorts Seaplane Works

1st Aug 2013, 14:25
Savoia....Reposting the Submarine shot....having to revise my understanding and memories of that area .

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2080/1969489921_48e50e1a17_m.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/1969489921/)
SUBMARINE ROCHESTER KENT (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/1969489921/) by A30yoyo (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

1st Aug 2013, 15:06
First I have heard of the sub - just how did someone (private individual presumably) in UK acquire a used Russian submarine?

1st Aug 2013, 15:42
.. having to revise my understanding and memories of that area.

Can this assist?



- just how did someone (private individual presumably) in UK acquire a used Russian submarine?

Friends in low places! :E

1st Aug 2013, 16:28
That will be why the original Borstal was south of the River and just west of the motorway bridge, near what I recall as Medway Bridge Marina

3rd Aug 2013, 15:14
My Kentish informer advises me that at this time a film unit is in Rochester utilising the B-39 for the making of a movie to be called Black Sea (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2261331/).

So for those in the UK, if you want to meet-up with Jude Law, then pop down to Rochester over the next couple of days and say hi! :ok:

5th Aug 2013, 16:42
Savoia....The 1948 photo of the Golden Hind in the Kent History forum above is opposite the Castle (i.e. on the West of the A2 bridge)....I can't reliably remember from which side of the A2 bridge I saw a flying-boat in 1951 (I was only 6!) but the Hind was towed down river towards Sheppey in 1954 so it somehow must have passed under the bridge (or over it by flying at some time?)

25th Aug 2013, 00:09
Latest Britain from Above Aerofilms uploads include Short activities at Rochester
Rochester Bridge, Gashouse Point and the River Thames, Strood, from the west, 1939 | Britain from Above (http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw060957?search=%20Rochester&ref=26)
The River Medway at Chatham Ness, Rochester, from the west, 1939 | Britain from Above (http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw062151?search=%20Rochester&ref=12)
Search results | Britain from Above (http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/asearch?search=Short%20Rochester)

And they've got the Golden Hind at Poole, 1946
Search results | Britain from Above (http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/asearch?search=poole%201946)

Register to get zoom/comment/pin function

Latest uploads from 1939/1946 cover many UK airfields, their searchbox is bang up-to-date

17th May 2014, 08:28
Hi Steve,I can't really add to your discussion but found your post and was interested in what you said. I was searching the web for the accurate stops on my way out to Africa.I was only 6 , and I know we (my mother, younger brother and Aunt) flew from Southampton to the Vaal Dam during July 1949, It was terribly exciting being met by the boats with sunshades over them. I think we first landed in Malta, then Khartoum in Egypt. That was wonderful, there was a swinging fringe all around the boat. We stayed in an enormous grand hotel with a double volume ceiling in the lobby. Africans stood around dressed in long white robes and wore red fez's on their heads. Bed was an enormous double bed poster hung around with mosquito nets . I remember the food as you said. So much of it. The next morning we were taken for a drive around a bananaplantation and I ate a banana for the first time! We must have got back on tot he flying boat later in the morning. We had a sort of cabin just for our family and I weren’t allowed to go up. The seats were blue.continued in next email space

21st May 2014, 21:08
If you look in the Timetable Images site there is 1949 timetable.
The route at that time was Southampton/Augusta(Sicily)/Alexandria/Luxor/Kampala/Victoria Falls/Vaaldam.