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Air Travel in Africa: 1936

Air Travel in Africa: 1936

Travelers board an aircraft in an unknown region of Africa. From the Matson Photo Service, 1936. View full size.


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Built like Gibraltar and just about as fast

Supposedly it was the brilliant aircraft designer Anthony Fokker who said that the HP 42 had a built-in headwind, and that it was as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar and just about as fast. With a cruising speed of 100 mph, it was a bit faster than the big rock. Its stout construction made it the place to be in the 1930s if the airliner you were in was about to crash.

On YouTube an aviation enthusiast known as Bomberguy has posted many historic films, and thanks to him here's the look and sound of one from three-quarters of a century ago:!

Here's the cockpit, and my limited single-engine small aircraft experience tells me those big control wheels were needed to apply the muscle required to fly one of these babies.

Handley-Page HP 42

Handley-Page built 8 of these aircraft and each had a name starting with "H" - such as Hanno, Hannibal, Heracles, Hadrian, and so on. They flew for Imperial Airways in all sorts of weather in Europe, Africa and India from 1931 until 1940, when they were pressed into RAF service. In that time, Imperial Airways never lost a passenger, a record thought to be unique in commercial aviation history, although Qantas might argue the point.


>> My guess is that the photo is from a landing in Kenya.

I thought the same thing too.

The fezzes show that it is probably in eastern or western Africa, in a country with Islamic influences.

"A landing in Kenya"

Were the fezzes on the ground crew the tipoff?

Looks like Chapter One....

...of an H.Ryder Haggard novel.

Something like "Miller's head was pounding, his stomach still roiling from the copious amount of Gin and Tonics he had consumed the night before. Still, he had the map, that's all that mattered. "Nothing like treasure to settle a mans resolve." he muttered, flicking his Rothmans into the Kenyan dust as he entered the oven that was the Handley. "Sooner we get this crate up the sooner we'll cool off." Miller mumbled to no one in particular as he plopped himself into the wicker seat. It was then that he noticed the scorpion crawling towards him.


My guess is that the photo is from a landing in Kenya.

BOAC Imperial Routes

The little bit of research I've done quickly says that Imperial/BOAC employed these planes on the imperial routes to its colonies.

The extent of England's colonies in Africa was:
Sierra Leone
Tanganyika and Zanzibar (later, Tanzania)

Handley Page Heracles

According to the Century of Flight site, this is a Handley Page HP.42 Heracles. First put in to service with Imperial Airlines (later BOAC) in 1931. Held 38 passengers and a cruising speed of only 100 mph.

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