A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

The "Second International Aviation Meeting", took place in Egypt from December 19-23, 1933. (The first one had been in 1910, so it was not really a terribly regular event.)

The F.A.I. were aiming to "stimulate an interest in aviation, and to emphasise the advantages presented by the use of aircraft", and the meeting included 3 main competitions:

- "The Circuit of the Oases"; a 2-day touring contest covering about 900 miles;

- a Speed Contest, based on a handicap, over a distance of about 230 miles, and

- the Oases Trophy, which was for a prize for the competitor gaining the highest total of points in the two other contests.

OC1934 - map

There was a fantastically complicated Handicap Formula, awarding points for (wait for it) fuel consumption, safety (they had to turn the engine off and glide down from 2,000 ft), wing folding (faster = more points), comfort, picketing, take off and landing distances, luggage, engine starting, safety appliances, controls and instruments, refuelling, and (finally) ease of maintenance. It must have taken them hours to assess each aircraft...

Still, not to worry: "The flight south will be easy from a point of navigation, for the blue ribbon of the Nile provides an excellent landmark".

After that, however, "the pilots will have to rely nearly entirely on their compasses, for the Lybian desert provides few landmarks ... a forced landing might easily mean minor injuries resulting in many unpleasant hours, perhaps even days, being spent in the desert before help arrived".

The Circuit was supposed to start on the 20th, but "Egypt's weather, which has a name for constancy, decided for this occasion to be thoroughly feminine. It was capricious to a degree previously unknown, and very nearly, so to speak, wrecked the whole party."

Ahem ...

Anyway ...

At one point there had been 60 entrants, but this had been whittled down to 32 or so by the start of the race.

Out of those 32 starters, just 6 were British:

Race No Aircraft Pilot(s) Crew/Passengers Fate
3 Avro 626 Prefect

 G-ABYM

Regd: 22.07.33 to Air Service Training Ltd

Scrapped 1939

 mini - r p p pope Flt-Lt R P P Pope  plus 1 Pilot was ill ("possibly with what is colloquially known as Gippy Tummy") for the Oases Circuit; 7th in the Speed Race
17 Percival D.2 Gull Four

 G-ACJW

Regd: 07.09.33

Sold Australia (as VH-UTC) 11.34

 mini - p randolph(2) Mr Patrick Randolph  plus 1  5th in the Oases Circuit
23

G-ACLI

Miles M.2A Hawk Special

G-ACLI

Regd: 18.10.33

Dbf Brooklands 24.10.36

  Mr Stephen Bertram Cliff  plus 1 Disqualified from the Oases Circuit (aircraft 19kg overweight); 16th in the Speed Race
24

G-ABKZ

DH.80A Puss Moth

 G-ABKZ

Regd: Apr 1931

Impressed 31.5.41 restored

Wfu 18.1.50

mini - f o soden  Sqn-Ldr Frank Ormond Soden DFC  plus 1 9th in the Oases Circuit; 8th in the Speed Race; 6th overall
29 DH.84 Dragon

 G-ACKU

Regd: 24.11.33

Impressed 7.7.40 Stalled forced landing nr Wantage 10.2.41

  Walter Dugald MacPherson

Mr W Lindsay Everard M.P.

plus 4 others

1st in the Oases Circuit; 12th in the Speed Race; 1st overall
31 Percival D.2 Gull Four II

G-ACIR

Regd: July 1933

Spun in and burnt Heston 20.2.35

  Mr Walter Guy Robson Arrived too late for the Oases Circuit (engine trouble on the way out to Egypt); 13th in the Speed Race on handicap, but did win the Heliopolis Oases Co. prize for fastest Speed (139.9mph)

 

Another 11 Brits entered, but did not start, for one reason or another:

Monospar S.T. 6 Mr R E Gardner  the Monospar was not ready in time - he flew his 'Cadet' out anyway, but didn't enter the race.
Monospar S.T.4 The Duchess of Bedford
Percival Gull Mr N M Gandar
D.H. Leopard Moth Sir Pyers Mostyn
D.H. Puss Moth Mr M D L Scott
Junkers F.13 Mr L Beardmore  engine trouble on the way out to Egypt
D.H. Puss Moth Mr T A K Aga
D.H. Gypsy Moth Peake Pasha
Miles Hawk Mr E D Spratt  damaged his machine in Switzerland
Comper Swift Mr A Henshaw
Waco Cabin Lady Hay Drummond-Hay  engine trouble on the way out to Egypt

 

... and the rest of the field was made up of assorted foreigners (16 French, 3 Egyptian, 2 Italians, a couple of Germans, a Jugoslav, a sole Swede and a lone Belgian).

The French aeroplanes drew special comment from Flight regarding their colouring; they "looked more like a flock of African macaws than anything else. Bright and cheerful, it is true, but not artistic."

website security