Report of General Monthly Meeting - February 2018

Flying to the Empire by Peter Wingent

Peter, a Winchester U3A member, gave us an entertaining and well-illustrated talk about the early days of flying. We learned how, after the adventures of the Wright brothers, the history of aviation developed at a rapid rate. Commercial airlines were set up, and regular flights took place between London and Paris, even if the airport facilities were extremely limited. Then flights went further afield, and it was possible to travel to South Africa over several days rather the journey taking several weeks as previously, with overnight stays in a range of exotic and more basic accommodation.

Peter told us about how the flight routes were surveyed by pilots – with no radar of course at this time – who took amazing risks in their work. There were many hair-raising incidents which were told in a very entertaining way, but must have been terrifying at the time. We were left with an overriding impression of the sheer courage, resilience and quick- thinking of the early pilots who needed to be resourceful to survive. What a far cry from our technologically sophisticated airports of today, and how much we take for granted!

Julia Whitburn