On the 30th November, 1931, the British Post Office announced there would be a special Christmas flight from London to Cape Town. Imperial Airways Ltd left London on 9th December, arriving in Cape Town 21 December. Mail was forwarded to England via the Union Castle Line.
On 2nd May, 1952 the first regular jet flight, with a de Havilland Comet, left London with 36 passengers on board.
Flying 450-500 m.p.h. at 35 – 40,000 feet, these first pure jet airliners in the world completed the 6,700-mile flight in 23 hours, 20 minutes, including stops at Rome, Beirut, Khartoum, Entebbe and Livingstone. Actual flying time was only 18 hours, 40 minutes. An alternate routing via Cairo instead of Beirut reduced the total distance by 450 miles and the journey by an hour.
The Comet, built by de Havilland, a British firm, was the backbone of the British commercial fleet. The early Comet was a four-engine aircraft, roughly the size of a small Boeing 737. It carried between 36 and 44 passengers, depending on its cabin configuration.
Despite the line’s overall success and longevity, the first Comets suffered from structural problems and the plane was involved in a number of accidents during the early and mid-’50s. The plane that made that first London-Johannesburg flight, designated G-ALYP by BOAC (a forerunner of British Airways), was also among the first passenger jets to be lost.
Southern Rhodesia’s first full-scale air rally was held on 13th August, 1936. It was organised by the Bulawayo Light Plane Club with flying under the control of Major Cloete and Captain Rod Douglas as announcer.
Two days earlier, Major Cloete and Lieutenant J.B. Holderness had flown to Wankie to welcome the Royal Air Force flight which had come from Heliopolis in Egypt to participate in the display.
Between 3000-4000 attended the show with 25 aircraft including aircraft from Britain and South Africa. Two days later the show was repeated at Salisbury airport in front of a crowd estimated to be 20,000.
Due to the popularity of the show, the Rhodesia Herald offered a pilot scholarship with de Havilland and Company, Salisbury. They received over 200 applications.
A Pride of Eagles: A History of the Rhodesian Air Force – Beryl Salt
East African Airways was set up 1 June 1946 and was a partnership between the territories of Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, and Zanzibar, and the British Overseas Airways Corporation (B.O.A.C.). For the next 18 years, the airline was owned by the colonial governments, with operational assistance from B.O.A.C.
The airline was headquartered in the Sadler House in Nairobi, Kenya. The corporation was dissolved in 1977 amid deteriorated relations among the three countries.
Central African Airways Corporation was formed on 1st June, 1946 under the joint ownership of the Governments of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It was the national airline of the Federation of Rhodesia & Nyasaland.
The airline provided a comprehensive service within Central Africa, up north to Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi, south to Johannesburg, east to Beira and Lourenco Marques, and west to Elizabethville. It also provided a twice-weekly coach service to London known as the Zambezi Service.
When the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was dissolved in 1963, Zambia Airways and Air Malawi were founded as wholly owned subsidiaries of Central African Airways, taking over the route network in the respective countries.
In 1965, Air Rhodesia was founded as a third CAA subsidiary. Thenceforth, only the prestigious international flights from Salisbury to London and Johannesburg were operated under the Central African Airways brand. In 1967, Zambia Airways, Air Malawi and Air Rhodesia decided to become independent of each other, and CAA was disestablished.
British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) was the British state-owned airline created in 1939 by the merger of Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd.
After the passing of the Civil Aviation Act of 1946, European and South American services passed to two further state-owned airlines, British European Airways (BEA) and British South American Airways (BSAA). BOAC absorbed BSAA in 1949, but BEA continued to operate British domestic and European routes for the next quarter century.
A 1971 Act of Parliament merged BOAC and BEA, effective 31 March 1974, forming today’s British Airways.
Hunting Clan African Airways was the African arm of Hunting-Clan Airways, UK. The roots of the company go back to 1st January 1946 when Hunting Air Travel (HAT) was founded by three members of the Hunting Family, one of which was a member of the Royal Flying Corps in WW 1. Although a wholly independent British airline, it was actually part of the Hunting Group of companies, which had emerged from the shipping industry, dating back to the 19th Century.
On February 28, 1955 the subsidiary Hunting-Clan African Airways, Ltd. (HCAA) is formed at Salisbury, Rhodesia, to provide Africargo Avro York all-cargo services from London and Manchester.
Southern Rhodesia Air Service (SRAS) was found January 1st, 1940. On February 1st, Rhodesia and Nyasaland Airways(RANA) was absorbed as an airline and communications squadron of the Southern Rhodesia Air Force. The routes operated by RANA were continued by SRAS. In June 1945, the Southern Rhodesia Air Minister announced that SRAS would operate all air services within Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
On October 1st, 1945, the airline ceased its military operations and return to a civilian airline service. The Southern Rhodesia Act No.11 of 1946 established the Central African Air Authority and by June 1st, 1946 the Central African Airways was incorporated and replaced SRAS.