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Flying Boats to East Africa

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Flying Boats to East Africa

Old 29th Jul 2012, 16:02
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Thanks for all these responses

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.
Thanks
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Old 29th Jul 2012, 23:14
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Photo of G-AFBJ Carpentaria Naivasha WWII
Short S.23 Empire

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
and also served Montreux ,Lake Geneva in 1957 according to:
http://archive.pooleflyingboats.com/...and%20TEAL.pdf
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Old 30th Jul 2012, 12:14
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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)

http://www.timetableimages.com/ttima...49/ba49-07.jpg

shows the Solent flying boats operating through Kampala only, Nairobi only being served by land planes. Did they change during the year ?
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Old 30th Jul 2012, 17:56
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Flying Boats to East Africa

Thanks WHBM.
I have a print of Timetable No.13 ( unfortunately undated but certainly 1949)
Showing the following schedule.
SOLENT FLIGHT BO 157
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.
Steve

Last edited by SteveHobson; 31st Jul 2012 at 06:57. Reason: Correcting spelling in title
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Old 30th Jul 2012, 20:41
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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.

Last edited by renfrew; 30th Jul 2012 at 20:44.
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Old 30th Jul 2012, 22:47
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Renfrew....Think it was May 1948?
south africa | photographs inlwgural | south african | 1948 | 0765 | Flight Archive
What does the Bray book have to say about going back to flying-boats so late in the day?

Last edited by A30yoyo; 30th Jul 2012 at 22:49.
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Old 31st Jul 2012, 02:03
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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?
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Old 31st Jul 2012, 19:44
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Originally Posted by SteveHobson
Thanks WHBM.
I have a print of Timetable No.13 ( unfortunately undated but certainly 1949)
Showing the following schedule.
SOLENT FLIGHT BO 157
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.

Last edited by WHBM; 31st Jul 2012 at 19:55.
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Old 2nd Aug 2012, 19:25
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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.
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Old 2nd Aug 2012, 20:34
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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.
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Old 2nd Aug 2012, 22:34
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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.
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Old 2nd Aug 2012, 23:19
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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 boat david brice
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Old 29th Jan 2013, 01:35
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Short Solent to Nairobi via Marseille, France!

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
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Old 29th Jan 2013, 10:55
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fans............

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

Planemike
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Old 29th Jan 2013, 11:54
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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.
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Old 31st Jan 2013, 17:12
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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:
http://www.pprune.org/aviation-histo...caledonia.html

Last edited by Warmtoast; 31st Jan 2013 at 17:15.
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Old 3rd Feb 2013, 10:17
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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...

Last edited by cyflyer; 3rd Feb 2013 at 10:18.
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Old 3rd Feb 2013, 23:33
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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.
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Old 4th Feb 2013, 05:48
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cyflyer,

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.

I42
(once did a scheduled flight in a Mallard, with a water-landing and take-off )
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Old 4th Feb 2013, 18:31
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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.
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