Spencer’s Airways and Garage

Spencer’s Airways and Garage

Victoria Falls

In 1923, Edward Herbert (Ted) Spencer was stationed at the Victoria Falls with the British South Africa Police when he spotted a business opportunity as increasing numbers of tourists began to arrive by road from Bulawayo. This resulted in an increased demand for motor garage facilities. Spencer thought a car hire service would capture the tourist trade as passengers stepped off the train. He started a business Spencer’s Garage and Service Station.

Spencer’s Garage and Service Station soon developed into Spencer’s Garage and Air Service when Spencer acquired his first aeroplane – a second hand DH.82 Puss Moth, purchased in 1935 from Union Airways in Durban, South Africa.

Originally it started as a small charter company called Spencer’s Airways. He originally operated a de Havilland Puss Moth aircraft providing short flights over Victoria Falls from a self-made airstrip (which would grow to become the Victoria Falls Aerodrome). The flight became known as ‘the flight of angels.’

Spencer’s Air Service was born when Puss Moth ZS-ACB became VP-YBC on the Southern Rhodesia registry.

Spencer also ran a passenger and mail service to remoter parts of Barotseland in Northern Rhodesia using a de Havilland 83 Fox Moth biplane.

During the Second World War, judged too old for volunteer service, Spencer occasionally piloted a DH89A Dragon Rapide on the weekly run to Mongu.

Towards the end of the War Spencer’s Airways, Victoria Falls, were using one Avro Anson, one de Havilland Fox Moth, one Tiger Moth and one Fairchild UC.61A to provide short pleasure flights over the Falls. It is also believed Ted Spencer was the only person (possibly the first) to fly a fixed wing plane under the Victoria Falls Bridge.

It is also recorded that Spencer had hoped to establish a flying boat service to Barotseland after the war, but he died tragically in a crash in London in 1947. Spencer was piloting the Dakota plane which stalled and crashed soon after take off from London on the 25th January with 18 passengers, eleven of who also died.