Family footage

1931 London to Cape Town Record Flight

'If anything, Kidston found aviation more rewarding than he did motor racing, even though he began taking flying lessons only towards the end of 1927. Personal aviation was a fad in the 1920s and among the Bentley Boys, Duller, Rubin and Birkin used to fly; but for Kidston it was more than an amusing pastime or a way to pick up women...' 'But although Kidston saw the commercial potential in flying, he still brought the same glamour to the skies that he had to the motor racing circuit...Kidston was as fanatical about aeroplanes as Birkin was about motor racing.' 'In 1931 he determined to draw attention to the state of British aviation with a record-breaking flight from England to Cape Town. 'My object' he wrote in a letter to a friend, 'is to make our people wake up. In the commercial sphere we are miles behind!' He ordered a new, US built Lockheed Vega DL-1A Special monoplane for the attempt. Shipped from the Lockheed plant to England, it was registered G-ABGK to incorporate its owners initials. Having established a new time from London to Le Bourget (Paris) during practice flights, Glen Kidston set off from Netheravon aerodrome in Wiltshire at 0610 hours on Tuesday, 31st March 1931 accompanied by co-pilot Capt. Owen Cathcart-Jones and a mechanic. Their route took them via Naples to Cairo and across the deserted plains of Africa until, 7,505 miles and 57 hours of flying later, they circled and landed at Cape Town's Maitland Aerodrome, touching down at 1706 hours on Monday, 6th April. A forced landing the previous evening had added half a day to their trip, but they beat the previous record by 2 days and averaged 131.86mph. 'The British newspapers reacted with the same wild enthusiasm that they had shown when Kidston had won Le Mans the preceding year, and his achievement stirred up much controversy. While he was in South Africa, he decided to make an aerial tour of the country and, because the Lockheed Vega was too big for the majority of South African airstrips, he borrowed a Puss Moth for the purpose. On 5th May 1931 the afternoon papers in South Africa carried the following news in the 'Stop Press' column: 'Glen Kidston Reported Killed...aeroplane crashed...visting cards found nearby...Lieutenant Commander G.P. Glen Kidston, RN.' Nicholas Foulkes, The Bentley Era, 2007