The Rhodesian Aviation Co. Ltd.

The Rhodesian Aviation Co. Ltd.


As early as 12th October, a meeting was conducted to consider the flotation of a new aviation company to be called The Rhodesian Aviation Co., Ltd, held in the office of J C Coghlan. Those present included: Mr. Francois Issels (Chairman), Dr. S. H. Freeze, Messrs. A. C. Thornton, J. C. Coghlan, Major C. M. Newman, Captain J. D. Mail, Major Grant Duncan and Mr. Aston Redrup, Secretary of the Rhodesian Aviation Syndicate.

The resolution was adopted that ‘a limited liability company be formed to carry on aviation in all its branches in Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia. Union of South Africa and elsewhere. Provisional directors to be Messrs. John Austen (Que Que), J. H. Bookless, A. G. Hay, F. lssels, H. L. Stewart, A. C. Thornton, Dr. S. H. Freeze, Major Grant Duncan, Captain J. D. Mail and Major C. M. Newman. Mr. Aston Redrup to be Secretary, Mr. J. C. Coghlan legal adviser and Messrs. Woodthorpe & Fraser auditors.

Thus, in February 1929, sufficient local capital was raised to launch the Rhodesian Aviation Company with Cobham/Blackburn Air Lines owning a large interest. It was agreed that Cobham/Blackburn Air Lines were to provide a Blackburn “Bluebird” aircraft – a single engined, two-seater, open-cockpit biplane – in return for its value in shares in the new company.Directors were: Mr. F. Issels (Chairman), Mr. G. Cecil Roberts, Major C. M. Newman Mr. H. L. Stewart and Captain B. Roxburgh-Smith (representing Cobham/Blackburn Air Lines and acting as manager and pilot); company secretary was Mr. Aston Redrup.

Early in 1931 Imperial Airways Ltd. took over the African interests of Cobham/ Blackburn Air Lines (including that company’s shares in the Rhodesian Aviation Company) and promptly withdrew all financial support of the latter company, maintaining that, until the main air route through Africa was established, no assistance to subsidiary companies would be forthcoming.

On Friday, 4th August, 1933, a meeting of Rhodesian Aviation Company shareholders was held in Bulawayo. Mr. Cecil Roberts, a director, took the chair in the absence of the company’s chairman, Mr. F. Issels. Mr. Roberts told the assembly that the company’s affairs were to be handed over to a new company whose capital would be subscribed chiefly by the Beit Trustees, which body would have a controlling interest. The new company would be called Rhodesian and Nyasaland Airways.

Rhodesian and Nyasaland Airways was incorporated at Bulawayo on 12th October, 1933. For a few months the headquarters of the new airline remained at the Railway Offices, Bulawayo, then, early in 1934 all control was, as predicted moved to Salisbury.

The aircraft taken over from the old company formed the nucleus of RANA’s fleet and, in mid-February 1934, two more Puss Moths were acquired when Christowitz Air Services of Blantyre was absorbed into the new enterprise.


  • Walter Herdzik