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Sir Alan Cobham
(1894-1973)

 

 

 

Alan Cobham began his working life with a firm of clothing wholesalers in the City, but he joining the Army's Veterinary Corps at the outbreak of the First World War, after which he joined the British Aerial Transport Company.   Then in January 1921 Geoffrey de Havilland engaged Cobham as the first pilot for his newly formed de Havilland Aeroplane Hire Service. This air taxi and charter flying included long distance journeys throughout Europe and the Middle East

In 1926 Cobham flew from Rochester to London, by way of Australia, landing on the River Thames in front of the Houses of Parliament before an estimated one million people thronging the bridges and embankments! He was knighted immediately following his return to England and became an international celebrity, in great demand for public appearances throughout Britain and the United States.

'It's a full time job being Alan Cobham!' the man himself once remarked. Possessed of enormous energy and enthusiasm for whatever life had to offer, he indulged his love of horse riding and sailing whenever possible and paid meticulous attention to the planning and maintenance of his large and beautiful gardens.

After a spell of well earned retirement in the British Virgin Islands, he returned to England and died on 21 October 1973.

 

Twenty Thousand Miles in a Flying Boat

Sir Alan Cobham

ISBN 1590481003

 

 

Alan Cobham was an aeronautical daredevil before they even coined the phrase. Soon after the First World War, he mustered out of the Royal Air Force and set off to make history with “one aeroplane, one hammer, some copper wire, a tank full of petrol, and a few shillings”.

Cobham began by flying over a war-weary England, but soon set his sights abroad. In 1921 he flew over Europe for three weeks, noting that the air was so clear that he could see for 200 miles in any direction. In 1924 he made history again by being the first person to fly from his British base to India, and back, a fact not to be believed in those innocent days.

In 1924 Cobham declared that he was tossing caution to wind. He proposed to command one of the new experimental “Flying Boats” around the entire perimeter of the African Continent. Keeping in mind that this was in the days of the Imperial British Raj, the English airman planned on making the entire trip by landing only in British colonies situated along the coast of Africa. The resultant journey changed aerial history and proved that air travel was no longer merely exotic, but immensely achievable.

 

Thus “Twenty Thousand Miles in a Flying Boat” is more than a classic adventure tale. It is the true story of one man’s life in the clouds.  

 

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