This film is held by the BFI (ID: 12727).


A record of Sir Alan Cobham's flight from London (Stag Lane) to the Cape Town South Africa. The flight - the Imperial Airway Survey Flight - was made for the purpose of investigating the possibilities of aviation in Africa.

Main title and credits (28). BBFC certificate (38). Explanatory titles (86). MS Cobham in cockpit of the De Havilland 50 (86-89); MS of Cobham standing by plane in flying gear (100-103). Fuelling and stocking the plane (118-132). MS the engineer Arthur Elliott (147-154); MS Basil Emmott the photographer (171-177). Farewells before departure (186-192). Cobham and his wife kiss, he climbs aboard plane (225-231). The plane taking off (240-245). The party waving goodbye (250). Aerial view of the plane in flight over southern England (269). Map of the route across Europe to Athens. Owing to regulations no film was taken of this part of the journey (276-289). Map of route from Brindisi (Italy) to Athens (304-308). Aerial views of Athens and the Acropolis (326). Ground views of the Parthenon (341-437). The plane is dragged and pushed from its hangar (441-459); taking off (473-484). Map of route to Sollum [Salûm] in Egypt (488). Aerial views of Sollum (504-548). The plane on the airfield (556-568). MS Cobham and Elliott eating from tins (573-611). Stores are loaded with the help of an Egyptian border patrol (621-634). A large stone is removed which has anchored the plane to the ground owing to high winds (646-661). The border patrol leave in a Ford car with a mounted machine gun (669-681). View from plane of take off (696-735). Aerial views along the north coast of Egypt (741-758). Map of route to Cairo (762). Aerial views of the Pyramids (796-865). Aerial views of the Sphinx (871-916); the Nile, the suburbs of Cairo, the city (927-991); the Old Citadel (1003-1019). "End of part one" (1020). Aerial views of Cairo and the Old Citadel (1037). Ground view of the Pyramids; Cobham and Elliott watch two Arabs race up the Pyramid; on their return the two Arabs try to sell a `relic' found on the Pyramid (1175). Ground view of the Sphinx with head encased in scaffolding (1211). Cobham taking a photograph standing on the back of a camel (1216); the Sphinx (1223). Two rifles are loaded onto the plane - to provide for food over Africa (1233). Take off and in the air (1240-1253). Aerial view over Cairo as RAF biplane provides escort (no. JR 6692) (1277). Aerial views of Cairo (1325); views of the Nile (1353); Valley of the Kings (1384). The plane surrounded by Arabs after it lands at a village near Luxor (1401). Local Egyptian officials and the Sheik of the village (411); CU Sheik (1423); group shot (1436). Children sit under the wing of the plane in the shade (1447). Ground shot of the temple complex at Thebes [Luxor] (1462). Aerial views of Karnak (1513); temple at Edfu (1547). Ground views of Karnak (1601); Ramasseum (1650). Aerial views of the Aswan Dam (not the Aswan High Dam) (1688). Ground shot view of the dam and water passing through the sluice gates (1764). Aerial views of the temple of Philae (1779). Travelling shot from boat of the half-submerged Philae temple complex (1868). Ground shots of islands in the Nile and gardens (1901). Cobham smelling roses (1918); palm trees and gardens (1940). Aerial views of Abu Simbel (1969). Africans surround the plane at Wadi Haifa (1985). Group shot of children (1999). CU of a `fuzzy wuzzy' - Hadendoas (2011). An irrigation system; oxen walk round turning a large cog which turns a water wheel (2053). Aerial view of the confluence of the White and Blue Niles (2098); the city of Khartoum (2125), showing the Governor's Residency (2138). Christmas morning celebrations with members of the RAF station. The men, dressed in comic attire, sit astride donkeys and mules ready for a game of polo. They pass through a gateway and pose for the camera (2183) `The game' in progress (2236). Street scenes in Omdurman (2264). MS Sudanese man sewing at a `Singer' sewing machine (2271). A train station; a train standing, camels cross the line, passengers mill about (2288)

Rl. 2. Aerial views of Sennar Dam (59). Scenes at Malakal: an African beats on a drum (67); a `war dance' by African males (probably of the Shilluk people) to greet Cobham (107); Cobham and Elliott are chased by the Africans (121). A comic dance in which two men with lion masks invade the village (132). Two African boys swing on the propellor and are brought down by Cobham and Elliott (157). Cobham unboxes tins of petrol which are loaded by the Africans onto the plane (263). Aerial views of the Sud Swamps and `prairie' fires (283). At Mongalla, African women help to clean the plane (343). Cobham `discovers' a woman in his cockpit (387). The expedition returns from a hunting trip and enter a hut; MS Cobham drinking a beer (420); cleaning and checking his rifle (429); loading the kill - small antelope - on to a lorry (469). African guards (with head-dress and long spears) on duty around the plane (494). Ground view of Ripon Falls (510); aerial views of same (529). Jinja: a large crowd of Africans surround the plane (559). Closer view of chiefs by tail plane; being shown the plane by Cohman; and posing for the camera (592). The docks at Nyanza, view along quayside with docked ships (605). Aerial views of same (633). The stone monument dedicated to Speke who discovered the source of the Nile (647). Aerial views of Tabora in Tanzania (719). Parade and kit inspection of the King's African Rifles (747). Africans working in the railway engineering factory at Tabora - riveting a steel girder (776). MS of man in Arab dress with other Arab and three Europeans. The man is described as being a slave trader (780); CU of sword (788); CU face (802); MS as before (808). Preparing the plane for takeoff, after heavy rain the plane has sunk into the ground (824). CU of wheel half stuck in the ground (831). With African help, the plane is moved out of the rut and dragged away (852). Aerial views of bushland and low cloud (946). Map of route to Abercorn - no footage of Abercorn - possible missing section. The Bwana Mkubla copper mine at N'dola; ground shot, smelting plant in background, train travels to camera to large steam shovel which picks up rocks and loads them into the train wagons. (The name of the copper mine is on the side of the wagons) (1016). Aerial view of the mining operations (1035). Ground shots of the golf course at N'dola. Large white ant hills are spread over the course. A man and woman on the course playing. Cobham tees off from the top of one of the large ant hills (1069). At the airfield a large group of Africans run by the plane (1109). Aerial views of the lead and zinc mines at Broken Hill [Kabwe] showing the very large craters (1132). Aerial view of row after row of workers huts (1149). The airfield is shown by smoke flares (1178). Cobham and his team with mining officials look over the edge of the mine crater (1184). View over the edge showing the crater and mine workings (1224). Elliott puts on a new propellor, cranks it up and checks it (1269). Taking off (1275). Aerial view of waterfalls near Broken Hill (1323). Livingstone, a crowd of Europeans stand around the plane (1345). Closer view of weather-beaten Union flag on the plane as it is held up (1356). A metal pot is placed on the tail plane wheel to stop ants crawling onto the plane and eating parts of it (1370). Pan of crowds around plane (1387). Aerial view over wing showing Union flag fluttering and low clouds (1414) Aerial views and ground views of the Victoria Falls (1753). Aerial view of arrival in Bulawayo, flying over the town (1806). Welcome by the mayor of Bulawayo and his wife; they stand by plane (1820). The crowds (mainly European) standing around the plane (1836). Scenes at Cecil Rhodes' grave in the Matoppo Hills including CS of the grave (1876). Unloading petrol from the plane after it failed to take off, watched by a crowd (1931).

Rl. 3. Map of route to Pretoria (23). Aerial view of Government building in Pretoria (52). Cobham meeting with Colonel Sir Pierre Van Rynefeld who made a Cape to Cairo flight in 1919 (67-83). CU of Van Rynefeld smoking a cigarette through a cigarette holder and dressed in South African Air Force uniform (95). Aerial views of escort of South African Air Force biplanes to Johannesburg (179). Aerial view of spoilheaps on the outskirts of Johannesburg (192). Aerial view coming in to land showing large crowds and parked cars (200-225). Pan of crowds and plane (268). MS of people congratulating Cobham (301). Ground view of Crown Mine - a gold mine; a large bucket is raised and tipped into a rail trolley (311-357). Africans perform a war dance in the mine compound, interspered with shots of the musicians (543). CU of African with lightbulb tied to his forehead (549). CU of African's chest with two safety pins stuck through his skin holding up a piece of cloth over his chest (570). Cobham and Elliott attend a picnic party; they disembark from a yacht with a group of people and are entertained at the picnic (703). Aerial view of Kimberley town and mine crater (742). Cobham, inside the offices of De Beers, is shown a collection of diamonds (766). CU uncut diamonds (781). Aerial views of landscape on way to Cape Town (798); the Hex River mountains (943); flying over Table Mountain and Cape Town (979). Coming in to land, large crowds and parked cars (999); travelling shot from plane as it comes in to land, crowds rush by including men holding hands run alongside forming a makeshift barrier between the crowd and the plane (1041). Pan of crowds (1057). Elliott overhauls the engine in a hangar (1082); CU Elliott at work (1092); LS at work (1098). Street scenes in Cape Town (1117). Views of coast and moutains (1132). Aerial views of Cape Town and docks on the return flight to Britain (1172). Aerial views of an escort of three biplanes on the return to Croydon Aerodrome; the escort landing (1228). Ground shot of Cobham landing (1237). A newspaper vendor with placard `Cobham home again'; (1246). Pan of crowds (1250). CU Cobham and crowd (1253). Elliott with wife (?) (1259). CU Cobham as people cheer around him (1275) The End (1275). (5494ft)

Note: Flash intertitles from Part 2 reel 1, also flash maps. Flash intertitles and maps throughout reel 2. From 703ft in reel 3 flash intertitles and maps begin again.




Technical Data

Film Gauge (Format):
35mm Film
7000 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Great Britain
Production Company
Gaumont Company