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Po­ten­tial Christ­mas gift ideas for hard-to-buy for pi­lots

The Race for the Cape — a His­tory of the Record-break­ing Flights Be­tween Lon­don and Cape Town, 1920-2010 by Martin Bar­r­a­clough. Lim­ited edi­tion pub­lished by www. words­by­de­ in co-op­er­a­tion with www.pre­ Hard­back, 344 pages mixed B&W and colour il­lus­tra­tion

There are re­view copies that are greeted when they ar­rive on the Ed­i­tor’s desk with a groan and there are books like The Race for the Cape that raise a cry of de­light – rem­i­nis­cent of clas­sic works like Ken­neth Mcdonough’s At­lantic Wings (MAP, 1966), it re­ally is that good.

Par­tic­i­pants in the Vin­tageair­rally, a trans-africa event for ‘vin­tage bi­planes of the 1920s’ that sets off on 11 Novem­ber from Si­tia, Crete and is due to ar­rive in Cape Town on 17 De­cem­ber, are lucky devils as The Race for the Cape ap­pears have been pro­duced ex­clu­sively for them (although the in­for­ma­tion does say fur­ther copies are avail­able from the pub­lisher). No doubt the spe­cial edi­tion is for in­spi­ra­tion, were any needed, as the rally will be ‘al­most ex­actly recre­at­ing the 1931 Im­pe­rial Air­ways Africa Route,’ ac­cord­ing to or­gan­iser Sam Ruther­ford. ‘The air­craft will be fly­ing low along the Nile from Cairo to Khar­toum, past the high­lands of Ethiopia, down the plains of Kenya and over the bustling hub of East Africa. Then off again past Kil­i­man­jaro to the Serengeti, on to the spice is­land of Zanz­ibar and even fur­ther South, cross­ing Zam­bia, over the Vic­to­ria Falls to Bu­l­awayo in Zim­babwe. The fi­nal days of this... jour­ney takes them into Botswana and South Africa, to the Cape.’

As you might only ex­pect, the rally will be ac­com­pa­nied by mod­ern sup­port air­craft — the en­trants are af­ter all fly­ing for fun and with an el­e­ment of friendly com­pe­ti­tion, and are not try­ing to set any records. As The Race to the Cape makes clear, they will not be fac­ing quite the same chal­lenges as did avi­a­tors from Fl Lt F S Cot­ton and Lt W A Townsend in Fe­bru­ary 1920 (‘Force-landed on a beach 18 miles north of Messina. [Air­craft] over­turned and de­stroyed’) to the un­for­tu­nate Taff Smith in Oc­to­ber 2010 (‘Di­verted to Wind­hoek with en­gine, in­stru­men­ta­tion, ra­dio and GPS prob­lems’). De­scribed by Martin Bar­r­a­clough in wel­come de­tail, ad­ven­tures like this are per­haps best en­joyed as a good read, rather than ex­pe­ri­enced first-hand! PW

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