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)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.