On this page you'll find snippets relating to Durban's aviation history (and some other subjects) which have been contributed by Alan Taylor who works at the SA Air Force Museum Swartkop Airbase outside Pretoria. He has worked there for 15 years restoring and maintaining historic aircraft and as reference library manager and assistant researcher. Allan Jackson.

Main FAD aviation page

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Kittyhawk crashes during WWII

An eyewitness account on this site of a Kittyhawk crash in Durban during WWII caused me some puzzlement because it was not listed in my records. As far as I was concerned, only the following Kittyhawks had crashed in Natal during WWII:

  • 5006 - crashed at Umkomaas after colliding with 5067 on 30 March 1944, 2Lt D. R. Brown killed
  • 5009 - crashed near Isipingo on 19 June 1944, 2Lt C. V. J. Giddey survived
  • 5010 - crashed near Isipingo on 7 December 1943
  • 5011 - spun into the sea off Durban on 4 August 1942, Lt T. A. Russell killed
  • 5013 - caught fire in flight and crashed near Umbilo on 1 November 1943, 2Lt F. E. Hamm survived
  • 5014 - stalled after take off and crashed near Isipingo on 2 October 1943, 2Lt K. L. Clur survived
  • 5021 - crashed near Isipingo on 4 October 1943, 2Lt R. A. Hamlyn killed
  • 5022 - spun in during steep turn at low altitude near Mtubatuba on 21 September 1943, Capt R. K. Stephenson killed
  • 5027 - crashed near Isipingo on 22 December 1943, 2Lt A. N. Blake killed
  • 5067 - crashed near Umkomaas after colliding with 5006 on 30 March 1944
  • 5078 - flew into hill in low cloud near Umbumbulu on 29 February 1944, 2Lt A. H. Rheeder killed
  • 5082 - crashed near Isipingo on 18 December 1944
  • 5094 - crashed near Isipingo

It took a bit of digging but I think I have the details of the crash mentioned by Leon Nicholson. The record on 5027, in the list above, turns out to be incorrect. Published works and other sources are vague as to the exact location of the crash and simply quote "near Isipingo". The original accident investigation file revealed that, in fact, it crashed at Stamford Hill.

Picture courtesy John Blake.

2Lt Arthur Nairne Blake.


<== Click for enlargement.

On 22 December 1943, 19 year old 2Lt Arthur Nairne Blake of 11 OTU took off from Stamford Hill in Kittyhawk Mk III no. 5027, hitting the Lorenz beacon. The aircraft crashed on the airfield close to the perimeter fence near the old vehicle park. He was buried in the Springs cemetery. Wasn't that portion of Argyle Rd still called Pirow Avenue during that time?

I looked at the microfilmed newspapers of the day but wartime censorship resulted in a mere dozen words in a tiny report on an inside page which only mentioned the pilot's name and not aircraft type nor airfield.

Aircraft registered in Natal pre WWII

I have been trying to gather information about pre-war aircraft (other than those of Union Airways, SAA, the SAAF, Natal Aviation and Durban Flying Services) that were owned by Natalians or spent at least a significant period flying in Natal. This is what I have come up with so far:

ZS-AAI (ex G-UAAI): DH60G Gipsy Moth
Registered to the Durban Light Plane Club.
Flying recorded (test flight) in Jan 1928. Crashed and written off.

ZS-AAR (ex G-UAAR): Avro 594 Avian Mk III
Registered in July 1928 and owned by C. W. Petchell
Crashed at Stamfordhill Aerodrome on 18 Feb 1930

ZS-AAS (ex G-UAAS): Avro 594 Avian Mk III
Registered in July 1928 to the Durban Light Plane Club
Crashed at Durban on 22 September 1928

ZS-ABJ: DH60G Gipsy Moth
ex Union Airways, owned by S. Barnett Potter of the Natal Witness circa 1932
Written off in February 1933

ZS-ADC: Simmonds Spartan
Registered in September 1931 to W. D. MacKay of Ladysmith
Cancelled as written off

Registered in November 1931 to L. Holman of Northdene
To the Air Taxi Co., later to SAAF as 1428

ZS-ADT: DH80a Puss Moth
Registered in July 1932 to Durban Light Plane Club
Written off on 2 November 1935

ZS-AHP: DH87b Hornet Moth
Registered in July 1936 to N. J. O. Carbutt of Durban
To SAAF as 1587, returned to register and recorded at PLACO circa November 1946
To Southern Rhodesia as VP-YIX but written off at Concession in 11 November 1951

ZS-AHZ: Rearwin Sportster 7000
Registered in October 1936 to R. S. Clegg of Durban
To SAAF as 2026

ZS-ALA: DH87b Hornet Moth
Registered in July 1937 to U. W. M. Campbell
To SAAF as 2007, returned to register and owned by R. W. Whitley of JHB
On display at SAAF Museum

ZS-ANM: DH90a Dragonfly
Registered to Molly Reynolds of Ifafa, named "Inkanyezi" (the little star)
To SAAF as 1404, returned to register and written off at Pietersburg on 18 August 1949

Maybe other aviation history enthusiasts can add other facts to this basic framework.


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