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Husky Airways

Days of Empire

On Thursday I went to a talk on Flying Boats of the Empire at the Royal Aeronautical Society. The Society website is well worth checking out if you're into flying things; there's a full programme of events at HQ and a worldwide network of branches, talks are free to attend, and you don't have to be a member.

RAeS HQ was a treat in itself, with aviation-related paintings and models on every surface. As I drank my coffee, I observed that I was the youngest person there who wasn't a waitress.

The talk was by Richard Knott, author of the eponymous book, and was edge-of-the-seat stuff. He began by describing an incident in which the flying boat Cavalier made a forced landing on the sea 300 miles from Bermuda and began to break up, then left us in suspense until the end of the talk.

If I could travel in time, one of the first items on the agenda would be a trip to Australia or Africa by flying boat (picking one of the flights that didn't crash, of course). Landing for meals and overnight, strolling the promenade cabin, perhaps popping into the smoking-cabin for a smoke, dressing for dinner; it all sounds utterly civilised. We learned of the captain who inspected his crew's fingernails before every flight and, at the other end of the scale, the captain who rolled up one morning so hungover he flew his ship straight into a sandbank.

The Q&A at the end quickly devolved into old buffers putting their hands up to share their own flying boat reminiscences, which were fortunately quite interesting although I felt things should have been moved to the bar at that point.

As for the crew and passengers of the Cavalier, [Spoiler (click to open)]ten out of thirteen survived to be rescued by a tanker.
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That's a book I should track down, I think...
Another recommendation was 'Corsairville', about the town which sprang up around efforts to rescue a downed machine from a river in Africa.

There's also Flying Empires, which is free to download from
http://www.users.waitrose.com/~mbcass/
I have a friend on Twitter who has been prodding me for ages to join RAeS and attend some of their events. I can't right now, of course, but this sounds like a perfect way to spend an afternoon to me!
You don't even have to be a member for most of them!