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Flying Boats to East Africa

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Flying Boats to East Africa

Old 25th Jul 2012, 18:32
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Flying Boats to East Africa

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.
Thanks
Steve
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Old 27th Jul 2012, 10:10
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I think Alexander Frater's book "Beyond the Blue Horizon" will contain quite a lot of detail on this service.
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Old 27th Jul 2012, 10:55
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SH
not what you are looking for but ......

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Old 27th Jul 2012, 11:12
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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.

BSD.
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Old 27th Jul 2012, 13:40
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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.........
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Old 27th Jul 2012, 17:44
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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.
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Old 27th Jul 2012, 18:25
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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 introduced Short Solent flying boats on the UK (Southampton) to South Africa (Vaaldam) service.[3] The small village of Deneysville was used as a stop-over point by the old BOAC 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.

Last edited by PAXboy; 27th Jul 2012 at 18:28.
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Old 27th Jul 2012, 19:56
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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...
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Old 27th Jul 2012, 20:06
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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...
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Old 27th Jul 2012, 22:31
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Quote:
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?
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Old 28th Jul 2012, 09:54
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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.

BSD
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Old 28th Jul 2012, 10:51
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"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.
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Old 28th Jul 2012, 12:55
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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!!!
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Old 28th Jul 2012, 14:14
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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 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
http://www.users.waitrose.com/~mbcas...%20Empires.pdf

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


Last edited by A30yoyo; 28th Jul 2012 at 14:18.
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Old 28th Jul 2012, 14:24
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BSD....pic of Captain Caspareuthus on
Imperial Airways captain poses beside his boat - PortCities Southampton

He set up a air taxi/charter company in Africa post-war, I believe
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Old 29th Jul 2012, 07:44
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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.
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Old 29th Jul 2012, 12:47
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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.
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Old 29th Jul 2012, 13:05
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Caspareuthus

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)
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Old 29th Jul 2012, 13:38
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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.
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Old 29th Jul 2012, 14:30
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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.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 29th Jul 2012 at 14:30.
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