Skywork's "Spartan Circus" (1931)

Then Oscar Garden and John Tranum formed Skywork Ltd in October 1931, to (amongst other things) "promote, assist and encourage aerial navigation in all its forms", which soon turned out to mean "flying four aeroplanes (one of which they crashed almost straight away) called 'The Spartan Circus' around South Africa during the winter".

Oct 1931: "SKYWORK LIMITED.—Capital £3.000 in £1 shares. Objects: To promote, assist and encourage aerial navigation in all its forms, the study of aeronautics, and the development of all sciences connected therewith, and the construction of aerial conveyances or parts : aeronautical engineers and advisers, etc.

Directors :—J. Tranum, Royal Aero Club. W., professional aviator: O. Garden, c/o Vacuum Oil Co.. Westminster, professional aviator."

"IN FLIGHT last week there was an announcement of the formation of a new company, Skywork, Ltd., the directors of which were Mr. John Tranum and Mr. Oscar Garden. There has been much speculation as to what this company was going to do, and now we are able to make an authoritative statement about their projects. The company will take out to South Africa in the near future " The Spartan Air Circus." This is formed of three Spartan three-seaters, with Hermes II engines, and a Desoutter, also with a Hermes II. The pilots will be Messrs Oscar Garden, E. D. Ayre, C. E. F. Reilly, J. King and E. D. Cummings, while Mr.  Tranum will give demonstrations with an Irvin Air Chute. Messrs. Ayre and Garden are leaving on Friday, October 9, and the rest, including Mr. Groves, the mechanic, will follow about October 20. The programme will include a tour lasting about six months, and a route covering some 64 towns has already been laid out with the intention of starting from Cape Town and working round the coast. Great help has been obtained from the Cape Times and the Cape Argus, so that with ample publicity there is every chance of the tour being a success."


John Tranum, with revolver, as an 'aerial cowboy' astride one of the Spartans

"Tranum is the writer of his book "Nine Lives", which makes thrilling reading for the lay mind. He is a Dane, but most of his air experience was obtained in America, as his American accent will confirm. Parachuting is only a  selection in his repertoire. He is a pilot, has crashed machines as such for films, and generally embraced every antic in the skies that film producers can conjure up."

March 1932: "MR. J. TRANUM, who, together with Mr. Oscar Garden,  has been creating so much interest with the Spartan Circus in South Africa, arrived back home on March 21.
He tells us that the interest displayed by the larger towns out there was amazing and that he hopes to continue his tour the next winter. In the meantime he is staging a series of displays in this country, starting at Ramsgate this Easter week-end, where from Saturday to Monday he will give a daily display of parachute jumps."


Mr Oscar Garden

Capt E D Ayre

Capt J R King

Capt E D Cummings

Mr John Tranum

Mr C E F Reilly



- 1931 Simmonds Spartan G-ABPZ;

- 1931 Simmonds Spartan G-ABRA;

- 1931 Simmonds Spartan G-ABRB;

- 1929 Desoutter I G-AAPP belonging to J R King, scrapped in Nov 1931

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