Those of you who get National Geographic can skip this. On page 36 of the May issue is an article entitled Queen of the African Sky. It's about this rather amazing airplane called the Silver Queen, a perfect duplicate of the Vickers Vimy's from World War I. The plawne was built by Mark Rebholz and John LaNoue, Mark being an airline pilot with 20,000+ hours in the air. Their Vimy is the largest operational biplane. Length 44 ft., wingpsan 68.33 ft., cruising speed 75 mph, range 18 hours (low altitude).
Here's the route they flew just as it was flown in 1920:
START in Brooklands, Farnborough, Nancy, Munich, Taranto, Corfu, Cairo, Luxor, Jeddah, [Djibouti, Mandera, Naivasha, Nairobi, Arushu, Dodoma, Mbeya, Lilongwe, Lusaka, Bulawayo]*, Pietersburg, Pretoria**, Bloemfontein, Beaufort West, Cape Town. Most of those are African towns and cities. Anyway, the flight went from northern Europe to southern Africa, which is pretty darn nifty. They had some problems with air clearence and the Ehtiopians bombing Eritrea, but all else went pretty well except some aggressive winds. They tried to do a landing in Kenya on July 19th and ended up digging the starboard wing into the dirt runway, damaged an aileron control.
Well - I thought that sounded pretty nifty. Imagine seeing most of Africa from an airplane at about 7,000 feet! An open airplane at that!
*The cities in brackets are the smaller African towns that the average person has probably never heard of.
**Pretoria is part of the setting of a very very good book called 'The Power of One', if any of you have ever read that.