Pictures: 1910 – 1919

Johannesburg’s first Airfield was at Baragwanath. The ex-military hangar and cluster of huts and aircraft packing cases that housed The South African Aerial Transports Ltd. can be seen. In 1919 air services were inaugurated in South Africa with the amalgamation of a London-based company, the South African Aerial Navigation Company and South African Aerial Transports Ltd, under the name of the latter.

Photograph: John Illsley, In Southern Skies
The South African Aerial Transports Ltd. office – a converted Avro Aircraft Company aircraft packing case. Left to right are: Captain Carl Ross, Major W Honnett and Lieutenant Cecil Robert “Tommy” Thompson. The South African Aerial Transports Ltd. was formed on the 13 of April 1919.

Photograph: John Illsley, In Southern Skies
Baragwanath aerodrome saw the departure, on November 15 1919 of an Avro biplane piloted by Major Allister Miller, on what was the first commercial charter flight in South Africa. The Star was the company which had hired the aircraft to fly a special edition of the newspaper to Durban. This picture was taken at 7 am by a photographer of The Star 45 minutes before take-off. The aircraft was an AVRO 504K, H2583, of The South African Aerial Transports Ltd.

Cecil Robert “Tommy” Thompson

Tommy was a founder member of the Johannesburg Light Plane Club at Baragwanath. He was involved with the South African Aerial Transports Ltd., using Avro 504K aircraft. He was the first pilot to “loop the loop” in South Africa.