Friday, December 06, 2013

Cape Town to Goodwood Day 35: "I had come through the heart of Africa"

Team now  now in Cairo - almost said "safely" but Annette (film director) ended up in the middle of a six vehicle shunt that started with an articulated lorry smacking into her taxi yesterday (see Facebook). All OK.
When Mary Heath arrived in Cairo, she did it with her usual brio:
"I wore no stockings on account of the heat... but I thought I had better look respectable, arriving at such an important place as Cairo, so I poked out a pair  of silk stockings from the back locker in mid-air and changed into them (not very difficult my machine has tow-straps in the rudder bar).
"I do not think  in all my life I have seen anything which to me seemed so beautiful as Cairo from the air that day! To me it meant that I had come through the heart of Africa and I felt that my machine was a live entity and (a) very faithful one to have brought me so well and truly over mountain ranges and swamps, over forests and deserts, without ever faltering.
"In spite of the 10 hours' work, I could not resist comeing down to the aerodrome at Heliopolis (about seven miles from Cairo) in a series of long and enthusiastic loops.
"Of course, I had to do something wrong and I landed at the wrong aerodrome! There are two at Heliopolis - one for single engined and one for multi-engined aeroplanes. I of course chose the larger one!
"But I was forgiven for this and the adjutant of the aerodrome, Mr Emerson, carried me off to a late and very welcome lunch.
"My engine ran like a sewing machine and was better than when I started. ...I did the tappet clearances every day no matter how short the flight was and cleaned the petrol and oil filters. Only once did I fly in the heat of the day and I never flew at less than 7,000ft to get the cool air."
Lady Heath then took to her bed and slept for 15 hours. She had flown 5,132 miles in 72.5 flying hours (16 flying days)from Pretoria to Cairo. She had left on February 25 1928 and arrived on April 4 after many adventures.
* Rest in peace Nelson Mandela (1918-2013).

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