Rhodesia

Robin D W Norton

In 1970, I was working for Field Aircraft Services at Salisbury Airport, Rhodesia, at the time the country was suffering from the sanctions imposed on it because Ian Smith, the Prime Minister had declared Independence, November 1965, from Great Britain in an attempt to maintain a competent government to lead the country forward to greater prosperity, education and health care. Further info

By 1970 the Terrorist War in the country was escalating, with Russia and China providing training and weapons to the two main terrorist groups. Almost monthly more and more terrorists came back to fight for the 'Freedom' of their country, working airside at Salisbury Airport I could witness the increase in military flying from the Rhodesian Air Force base across the other side of the airport at New Sarum.

Field Aircraft Services had contracts for the repair and maintenance of the Aermacchi AI60 Trojan, Hunting Percival Provost and Douglas C47 Dakota, also the Beechcraft Baron which Ian Smith and other VIPs used for travel around the country was sometimes brought in for checks. I also worked on the C47s within New Sarum and was able to visit the Engineering Training School collection of engines, the Vampire displayed on the parade ground thanks to Squadron Leader Alan Cockle,plus have a flight in the C47 'Chaminuka' used for research 'rainmaking' flights.Close by Fields was the new hangar belonging to Jack Malloch's Air Trans Africa which operated DC7s registered in Gabon for sanctions busting flights with a weekly service to Amsterdam and other places. Afro Continental Airways was formed with a Super Constellation for a weekly service to Windhoek in South West Africa, this Constellation was the last of several owned by the company which were used for flights into Biafra (Nigeria) during that war, a number were broken up during 1970. Another company, Affretair, within the group was formed when a DC8 was acquired providing far more reliable transport compared with the DC7s and their complex Wright Cyclone engines which often failed in flight. www.jackmalloch.com

These few photographs are a sample of my collection, I would be happy to hear from anyone from those days, 1965-1980, or who has a serious interest in the aviation of Rhodesia covering those years.

I flew at Mount Hampden Airport having been trained to fly by Harry Allen who was an instructor at the Mashonaland Flying Club. Charles Prince was the Airport Manager at the time and one of the Department of Civil Aviation flying examiners who gave me my flight test for a private pilots licence, after his death the airport was renamed Charles Prince which it is to this day. Other companies I was connected with included Agric Air who operated Piper Pawnee aircraft for crop spraying, a number of which crashed and needed rebuilding, Rhodesian United Air Carriers (RUAC), Airwork, Autair,Air Rhodesia were others based at Salisbury Airport. Skyspray was at Mount Hampden.

My collection includes good photographs of all the Rhodesian Air Force aircraft, English Electric Canberra, Hawker Hunter FGA9, De Havilland Vampire T 11, Douglas C47 Dakota, Sud Aviation Alouette 111, Aermacchi AI60 Trojan as well as all the aircraft operated by Air Trans Africa and associated companies, Douglas DC7, Douglas DC8, Super Constellation, Air Rhodesia aircraft at the time comprised Douglas DC3 and C47, Vickers Viscount and latterly Boeing 720. The background in some of the photographs can be interesting as this was the time before earth embankments were put up obscuring the aprons and hangars of New Sarum. Contact can be made through Robin Norton for legitimate enquiries only