Reviewed by Ken Sanford. Published by Nicholas Arrow, The Beeches, Axminster Road, Musbury, Near Axminster, England EX13 8AZ, 2013, email:  Soft Cover, A4 size, 276 pages. Price £30.00 (approximately US$47.00, plus airmail postage, Europe - £7.85 (US$12.50, South Africa / America - £12.60 (US$19.50) & Australasia - £13.25 (US$21.25), surface mail it is £8.05 (US$13.00) to either America or Australia, etc.

The book is an outline of the airmail services affecting South Africa, with a listing of aerophilatelic material flown to, from or through South Africa for the period up to 7 February 1994.  Excluded are the internal airmails of South West Africa, South African Air Force Mails and flown mail which simply has South Africa as a final destination as well as South African acceptances for air mail services undertaken away from South Africa.

The whole concept of the book has changed.  When Mr. Arrow wrote the first edition, he was somewhat in awe of Burrell, Stern et al, and anxious not to conflict with what they said.  This time, he has been more authoritative and not afraid of disagreeing with them if felt necessary.

Also the style of the book is different.  The first Edition was rather a 200K word essay on his own collection - this edition is intended to have more of a text book feel to it, and you will note that in the body of the book he does not refer to himself (except very occasionally and in the third person) at all, except for one or two references in the introduction, which in this reviewer’s opinion is permissible.

The reader will also find that the textual passages in Chapters D and H are far more substantial than they were in the 1st edition.  The chapters are laid out as follows:

  1. Pioneer flights to 31 August 1939
  2. Internal flights to 31 August 1939
  3. External flights to 31 August 1939
  4. The War years, 1 September 1939 to 30 September 1945
  5. Airmails from 1 October 1945 to 31 May 1961 (the end of the Union period)
  6. Airmails from 1 June 1961 to 31 December 1974
  7. Airmails from 1 January 1975 to 31 December 1981
  8. Airmails from 1 January 1982 to 7 February 1994

There is a preliminary overview of the period in question, with a short internal index of the various main items in the chapter (mostly divided by year) and finally a description of the relevant information.  There follows a detailed listing of the relevant mails carried.  In Chapters F, G & H, the textual narratives are substantially reduced, with only such explanation as is essential, as, by this time, the aerophilatelic commemoration of a new service was so ingrained, that, usually the philatelic covers which record the flight also record all relevant details, rendering further narrative superfluous.

There is a rather detailed description of most flights and events, with the covers shown in color. The catalog type listings at the end of the chapters, refer to the page number where details of the flight can be found.

The number of covers flown is not shown, nor are there any prices for covers.  There are five appendices.  Appendix A mentions covers flonw by helicopters, gliders, hang gliders, parachutes & pigeons, and there is a listing of covers flown by balloon.  Appendix B gives dates of intermediate flights of government experimental service in 1925.  Appendix C is a note concerning Rand Airport, Johannesburg.  Appendix D is am amplification of the Imperial Airways mail connection to the Indian service from 1932 to 1933.  And Appendix E is a listing of non-postal, but flown memorabilia.  And finally, there is a detailed Index.

The book contains a wealth of information and will be essential for the aerophilatelist with an interest in South African Airmails.

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