Yes, it was the first flight from London to SA.
Yes, it was exactly 96 years ago.
Yes, Lt-Col Pierre Ryneveld and Capt. CJQ Brand did the honours.
No, it was not hitch free.
Yes, it crash-landed twice.
But they made it.
And here we are telling the story.
On Wednesday, February 4, 1920, the 1st flight from London to South Africa took off and lasted one month and a couple of days … as in 45 days. The flight was a total flight time of 109 hours and 30 minutes.
This lengthy duration flight was piloted by two South African pilots, Lt-Col Pierre Van Ryneveld and Captain Joseph Quintin Brand in a Vickers Vimy named the Silver Queen.. Leaving London on February 4, all went well until a forced landing at Wadi Halfa in Sudan due to a leaking radiator and a crash at Bulawayo during take-off. The airport at Bulawayo was 4,400 feet above the ground, above sea-level and the heavily-loaded craft struggled to rise. The craft failed to rise and hitherto crashed.
The pilots completed the journey to Cape-Town in another machine on 17th March 1920, landing three days later at Young’s Field in Wynberg, Cape Town. The major honors of the first England – South Africa flight might be safely accrued to these two achieving pilots.