Flying the Handley Page HP-42 aircraft on Imperial Airlines 1931 to 1939.
What was flying like around 80 years ago? No in-flight movies, no wi-fi connection and no
The Handley Page HP-42 of Imperial Airways, 1932, Slow, safe and very comfortable.
pretty stewardesses, how did they make a go of this? The aircraft looks so antiquated,
well, it was 1931!
Flying the airlines in the thirties was more fun than it is now. It was more leisurely
and you probably would have flown on one of these large 130 foot wingspan Handley Page
bi-plane aircraft, which were the mainstay of British Imperial Airways at the time.
They carried a total of 26 passengers, all first class, in three different compartments.
The Saloon, the Bar and Cocktail area, and the Smoking Section.
These machines were popular, comfortable and safe with no passenger killed during 10 years
of international and domestic operations while in use from 1930 to 1940. Excellent seating
with leg room, hot meals served on bone china and silver cutlery, with free liquor provided.
Overnights were at the best hotels. There was no rush, no waiting in lines and everyone
was well dressed.
Flying along at a few thousand feet at 100 mph, one could see the passing panorama below.
It took four days to a week, depending on headwinds and weather to fly from London to
Cape Town, South Africa flying only four hours a day. Typical overnights were Europe,
Cairo, Khartoum and Victoria Falls.
All stops to India also made for an interesting choice of destinations.
HP-42 "Hanno" at Samakh, Lake Tiberias in Palestine, 1931.
A 1930 flying magazine's view of the new HP-42 airliner. Note crew member as the
radio operator. The Bristol Jupiter engines were initially 450 hp and later bumped up to 550 hp.
The crew. The Captain, almost certainly, would have flown in the First World War -
note his cigar!
Imperial Airways advertisement of the day.
Khartoum, Sudan. Boarding for the flight South. Only one more overnight and then they will be
taking in the sights of Lake Victoria.
There was only one class; First Class. This is the forward Saloon. Note the gentleman's pith
helmet in the rack.
All engines running and the Captain not at the controls?
Cabin of a Handley Page HP-42. 1931. British Imperial Airways.
The cockpit of a Handley Page HP-42 airliner. London, 1931. No powered controls here.
Airspeed indicator and Altitude displays - as in modern jets - are on the bulkhead.
HP-42 airliner ready for a night flight. London's Croydon aerodrome, 1931
HP-42s at Croydon. Part of the Co-Pilot's duties was to stow the flag before take-off.
The Bristol Jupiter engines are warming up.
HP-42 over London. Cruise speed was 100 mph or 87 knots. Maximum speed was 120 mph
or 104 knots. No airline passenger was ever killed in one of these machines - in 10 years
of service. They flew all over the UK and Europe and down to South Africa on a regular
basis. They also conducted regular services to India via many places en-route.
A KLM DC-2 and an Imperial Airways HP-42 at Croydon, 1933.
Imperial Airways at Cairo in 1932. Note the Camels at Plane, the refueling
equipment, the ladders resting on the upper engines and the modest terminal building.
RAF Hendon Airport, London, 1937.
Royalty arrives. King George VI, center, and Queen Elizabeth on aircraft's steps.
An Interesting bit of history....