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
It can safely be presumed that the residents of Port Elizabeth were equally as fascinated at the concept of air flight as the rest of South Africa. As a testament to that allure was the great fanfare that Allister Miller’s flight from Cape Town in 1917 engendered.
This is the story of how fascination transmogrified into plans and then planes. This was an age of dreamers and schemers.
Main picture: Experimental air mail service between Cape Town and Durban
Allister Miller was not only a war hero but he was instrumental in the creation of a civilian aviation industry in South Africa. By all objective measures, he can claim to be the father of this industry. Due to his recording breaking flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, he was accorded recognition in Port Elizabeth by naming the street past the airport, Allister Miller Drive.
But what did Allister Miller actually do to receive this acclamation?
Main picture: Allister Miller crash landing at the PE Golf Club