1920's - London to Cape Town

The route between London and Cape Town was regarded as one of the challenges for aviators. Parts of the route had been covered but no-one had flown the full distance.

Sirs Pierre van Ryneveld (left) and Christopher Quintin-Brand and crew, stand in front of the Silver Queen before departing. (Brooklands Museum collection)Sirs Pierre van Ryneveld (left) and Christopher Quintin-
Brand and crew, stand in front of the Silver Queen before departing. (Brooklands Museum collection)
In December 1919, the British Air Ministry announced surveys had been completed by the RAF and a string of airfields established on the African route. It was now open to aviators! Urged on by the successes achieved by Alcock and Brown, first non-stop flight across the Atlantic, and the Smith brothers' first flight to Australia, the challenge began to gather momentum.

In January 1920 the London Times offered a prize for the first person to fly from London to Cape Town. The same reward was offered as had been earned by the two previously successful great flights - £10,000 - that's £300,000 in today's terms. Less than a month later, a Vickers Vimy set out from England for the Cape. Piloted by Captains S Cockerell and F C Broome, with Dr Chalmers Mitchell, Secretary of the Zoological Society

General Smuts wanted a South African to be the first so he authorized the purchase of a Vickers Vimy for this task at a cost of £4 500. Lt.Col Pierre van Ryneveld and Flight Lieutenant Christopher Joseph (Flossie) Quintin-Brand left London on 4 February 1920 from Brooklands Aerodrome in Surrey, England in the Vimy named the Silver Queen. The registration was G-UABA.

1910 to 1920 - Early Flying in South Africa

South Africa was not left out of the interest in aviation that was occurring world wide after the flight by the Wright brothers.

John Weston, a civil engineer, began the construction of his own aeroplane in 1907 at Brandfort, in the Free State. He lacked an engine with enough power so he dismantled the aircraft and shipped it to France. It is possible that John Weston based his design on a Voisin. In France he fitted a Gnome rotary engine (50hp) and flew it successfully (in France) in 1910.

The early 1870's - John Goodman Houshold

Flight in South Africa in the 1870's - Fact or fiction

John HouseholdJohn HouseholdThere is a belief that, in the early 1870's, John Goodman Houshold and his brother built a glider and launched it from the top of a 300 metre precipice on the farm Der Magtenburg, in the Karkloof area of KwaZuluNatal. The first flight was just over 1 kilometer and a height of 50 to 80 meters was achieved. During the second flight the craft soared for a while before beginning a rapid descent in which it clipped a tree and crashed, breaking his leg in the process.

It was the first ever recorded heavier-than-air flight and Goodman and his brother could have been accorded a place in history had it not been for their mother. When she heard of the crash she persuaded them to abandon the project out of fear that the family would incur the wrath of God for challenging their natural state of being earthbound. It is believed that the glider was stored in a barn and eventually burned with other rubbish.

All drawings, sketches and calculations were supposedly burned at John Houshold's insistence so he would abide by his promise to his mother never to discuss or attempt flying again.

History of SAPFA

First South African Aero Conference - Johannesburg 1 to 6 April  1920First South African Aero Conference - Johannesburg 1 to 6 April 1920The South African Power Flying Association is an independent association affiliated to the Aero Club of South Africa formed in the 1980's.