Aviation Historian 24
N.Stroud - Vikings in Africa /The John Stroud Archive/
Looking decidedly cutting-edge among the predominantly pre-war-vintage propliners then operating in East Africa, Ethiopian Air Lines’ colourful Convair 240 ET-T-20, named Eagle of Ethiopia, awaits its next departure from Nairobi on what the airline dubbed “The Wonderland Route”, connecting the various parts of East Africa and the Middle East.
Formerly HB-ITE in Swissair service, Douglas DC-2 ZS-DFW (c/n 1322) was photographed by John at Entebbe, where the 1934-vintage airliner was plying its trade for Phoenix Airlines. It may be one of the last photographs of the machine, as it was destroyed in a landing accident at Kosti, south of Khartoum, two months later.
One of several gleaming Lockheed Lodestars of East African Airways at Nairobi West during John’s visit, VP-KFA (c/n 18-2076), named RMA Lake Victoria, was a former BOAC example (ex-G-AGBT Lincoln), and, like all the company’s Lodestars, was highly polished.
VP-KFA (c/n 18-2076), named RMA Lake Victoria, was a former BOAC example (ex-G-AGBT Lincoln), and, like all the company’s Lodestars, was highly polished, as the groundcrew member demonstrates.
On the outbound journey from Blackbushe to Nairobi, the stewardess aboard Viking 1B G-AJFS (c/n 237) was Ema Ferguson, whom John photographed beside the aircraft as it was being refuelled at one of the route’s early stops, possibly Malta, before pushing on to the next waypoint on the inaugural return Safari Service on June 14-20, 1952.
With its natural metal finish flashing in the North African sun, Hunting’s G-AHPJ was captured by John’s camera from the cabin of G-AJFS while flying over the Libyan Desert on the El Adem - Wadi Haifa sector. The Hunting Viking was enjoying a second lease of life, having been completely rebuilt after a crash at Croydon in 1947.
Hunting stewardess Joan Jeffries seeks refuge from the blazing sun in the thatched hut used for customs at Juba on the return journey. On the apron outside is Airwork’s G-AJFS, which departed for Khartoum shortly before John boarded G-AHPJ to follow in its wake.
The Airwork Viking taking on fuel from a bowser at one of the more remote stops on the outward journey. Viking G-AJFS had made its first flight in August 1947 and was delivered new to Airwork the following month.
The two Vikings at Wadi Haifa on the outward journey. The airport is about eight miles (14km) east of the town and only accessible by means of a dusty track. Wadi Haifa was of particular interest to John, as his childhood hero, Sir Alan Cobham, had stopped there during his pioneering survey flight to Cape Town in South Africa for Imperial Airways in 1925.
Hunting’s Viking 1, G-AHPJ, joined G-AJFS (c/n 147) at Luqa, the two continuing together for the rest of the outbound flight to Nairobi, although they only flew together for the inaugural service. The Hunting machine had the distinction of being the first Viking to be delivered to an independent UK operator, back in May 1947.
The square cabin windows of the Viking provided good views of the exotic sights below for the passengers, John particularly noting that the over-desert sectors were not as boring as one might imagine: “There is a great variety of colour and many interesting types of hill formation, while the oases of Siwa, Farafra and Dakhla can all be seen before the Nile appears at the Egyptian-Sudanese border. ”
Flight Officer Charles Phillips checks the map in the cockpit of G-AJFS during the outbound flight.