Aviation Historian 28
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P.Le Blanc Smith - South by Southeast
Auster Autocrat VP-YFN at Salisbury
Although it appears that no photographs taken along the route have survived - if indeed any were taken - a sequence capturing the Austers’ arrival at Belvedere shows various members of the delivery party posing beside the aircraft, including, from left to right: “Rusty” Langley; his wife Pat; Theo Posselt; Eric Alsop; unknown.
Posselt discusses the delivery flight with Rhodesian wartime RAF Spitfire pilot Ted Jacklin, who went on to play a major part in the establishment of the Southern Rhodesian Air Force, which became the Royal Rhodesian Air Force in 1954.
After a relatively brief period with RAMS, Autocrat VP-YFM was sold to Air Carriers Ltd of Bulawayo, whose titles it carries here, in 1948. Little is known about this obscure operator, but it is known that "YFM ended its flying career as a result of a crash at Rusape in Southern Rhodesia in 1955.
Theo Posselt (second from left) supervises the completion of some paperwork at Belvedere on the rear fuselage of one of the Austers. The Blackburn Cirrus Minor-powered Auster J/1 Autocrat prototype, G-AGOH, had made its first flight on May 25, 1945.
The three Austers after their arrival at Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia on November 7, 1946, following their journey in formation from Lympne. It took in 27 stops over 28 days, crossing Europe, the Mediterranean and on down through Egypt and East Africa.
Posselt and visitors pose for the camera beside one of the Austers. Ten days after Posselt’s departure, two other Austers, VP-CAO and VP-CAP, left Cambridge to fly to Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where they arrived in mid-November, having covered some 5,400 miles (8,690km), less than the trio’s 6,430 miles (10,348km).