During the age of biplanes, aerodromes, airfields and airports were intimate places where family and their friends could view the passengers boarding while standing beside the plane. Today their signature features are formality, impersonality and huge scale, the very antithesis of the personal touch. This impersonality is exacerbated by the hub-and-spoke approach of air flight today.
Without radar, navigational aids and concrete runways, these aerodromes served these fragile midget planes.
Main picture: Avro Anson F1 1143 based at 42 Air School
In 1942, Port Elizabeth had some unwelcome aerial visitors. During the period 20-27th April, unidentified aircraft flew over South African ports, including Port Elizabeth. Fighters were scrambled but they never made any contact with the intruders. It was only after the war that researchers and historians found out more about these mysterious visitors.
Main picture: The Yokosuka E14Y “Glen” Scout Plane painted by Ron Belling
These are the reminiscences of Denis Glendinning, one of the first pilots posted to 6 Squadron RAF based at 42 Air School, Port Elizabeth. Denis is well known in Port Elizabeth having served as a City Councillor. Apart from being a war story, it highlights the fundamental difference in the martial activities of the Allies and their German opponents whereby the SAAF placed its members in extreme danger in order to rescue the crew of a U-Boat after it had been sunk.
This depiction of a flight in atrocious weather encapsulates the pathos of the situation. This his personal story in Glendinning’s own words.
Main picture: Avro Anson over Cape Recife in November 1942