White Water Landings - views of the Imperial Airways Africa service from the ground The silver bird straightened up and sank lower, lower, until it met the sea with a sleek spray that rushed past the windows in its fuselage. M'beriali - the imperial mail bird, as it became known in Swahili - had arrived!
Imperial Airways' man at Lindi, East Africa, was Geoffrey Pett, then just 22 years old. Selected as a Commercial Trainee aged eighteen, he was posted to the middle of Africa to look after the ground arrangements for the new 'Empire' Flying Boat Service between London and Cape Town/Durban. His Africa postings ranged between Alexandria, Egypt, on the Mediterranean coast, Juba, now in South Sudan, and Butiaba on Lake Albert, Uganda. His war years were as traffic superintendant at Cairo (and at RAF Wadi Saidna, Sudan), handling troop movements and other priority personnel on the civilian aircraft, as well as ensuring the 'Horseshoe Route' between South Africa and Australia operated at its turning point, Cairo. His career continued with the new British Overseas Airways Company, through BEA into British Airways, until ill-health retirement in 1968.
Geoffrey was often sought out for his memoirs of Imperial Airways in Africa. After his death in 2005, he left a box of memorabilia including his photograph album and a set of tapes dictated between 1995 and 2004. His daughter, J M Pett, has laboured over the contents, producing this book to place the information out in the wider world. More content and links to archive material are on the website http: //whitewaterlandings.co.uk.
Praise for White Water Landings:
"a remarkable and significant piece of aviation and colonial history... shining through his memoirs is a capacity to 'make do'..., and the sense of the Imperial 'family' as a source of identity, support and obligation away from home. ... he reveals anxiety and frustration, cynicism for arbitrary authority... Told fondly, plainly and modestly, with touches of humour, Geoffrey's story reads easily and lingers long. The text is equally delightful as family history, autobiography, and colonial history." - Professor Gordon Pirie, Deputy Director of the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, and Editor of the Journal of Transport History
"The romance of the Golden Age of flying meets the romance of two people torn apart by war."show more