Pat Judson

First Rhodesian-born Airman

by J. McAdam

Pat Judson
Pat Judson during the First World War

In Rhodesia the name Judson first came into prominence at the commencement of the Mashona Rebellion in mid-1896. On Wednesday, June 17th, Mr. Dan Judson, Chief Inspector of the Chartered Company's telegraphs (and a recently-gazetted officer of the Rhodesia Horse) organised and - on the 18th - led the first party to go from Salisbury to the aid of a number of persons besieged at the Alice Mine in the Mazoe Valley, 27 miles north of the town. (1)

Next day, June 19th, reinforcements were sent from Salisbury under Captain R. C. Nesbitt (2) and, after joining forces, the combined party, with those rescued from the Alice Mine area, fought their way back to Salisbury, reaching the town on Saturday the 20th. Nesbitt received most of the credit - and the Victoria Cross - for that historic expedition; Dan Judson was afforded no official acknowledgement of the heroic part which he played, but he earned for himself something of far greater worth - the very highest respect of the community.

Not long afterwards Dan Judson and his wife moved to Bulawayo, where their son Daniel Sievewright was born on March 16th, 1898. This being the eve of St. Patrick's Day, his godmother aunt promptly suggested that he be nicknamed 'Pat, - so Pat he became, and thereafter, except in official documents' was seldom referred to by his Christian names.

Apart from a very short period at St. Andrew's Preparatory School, Grahamstown, Pat was educated in Bulawayo, initially at St. George's School and later at Milton School. (3) The school magazine Miltonian, of March, 1913, proudly recorded that "The Beit Scholarship [for 1912 has been awarded to] D. S. Judson, who passed tenth in Rhodesia and came top in arithmetic, in which subject nearly one-third of the candidates failed."

Soon after the outbreak of war in August, 1914, the 1st Rhodesia Regiment was drafted to South Africa to assist in quelling the Rebellion in the Orange Free State; and then to German South-West Africa. Dan Judson was appointed second-in-command and Pat, though only 16 1/2 years of age, persuaded his father to allow him to join up as a bugler: he was, not surprisingly, the youngest member of the battalion. His father, it so happened, was the eldest. Pat graduated from bugler to motor-cycle despatch rider, first to General Edwards and later to General Botha.

Upon the termination of the South-West Africa campaign Pat returned to Milton School for a short time until, early in 1916, the Judson family left for England, where his mother and sister, Mazoe, joined the nursing services, while he and his father became involved in the war in Europe.

lt was not long, however, before Pat became interested in flying and he transferred from his regiment, the Queen's Westminster Rifles, to the Royal Flying Corps; thus in April, 1916, he found himself on active service on the Western Front as an observer with No. 9 Squadron. His pilot was a fellow Rhodesian, Captain W. Wray Forshaw, of Salisbury.

Pat did not much enjoy the occupation of observer, and managed to obtain a transfer to the Home Establishment in order to train as a pilot. After graduating he returned to France, where he flew on active service until, in March, 1918, he was severely wounded while bombing enemy concentrations; after recovering, he was drafted to the Central Despatch Pool, and ferried aircraft from England to France until his demobilisation in April, 1919.

Soon after this the Judson family returned to their farm 'Kirton' at Heany Junction, some 15 miles east of Bulawayo. Pat enrolled at the Potchefstroom Agricultural College under the Returned Soldiers' Scheme and then, having gained a diploma in forestry, returned home to manage the family farm.

Pat, however, had been 'bitten by the flying bug' (as has happened to so many others, before and since); he was unable to shake it out of his system, so decided, in the late 1920's, to make civil aviation his future career. His interest in aeronautics would undoubtedly have been stimulated by the formation of the Rhodesian Aviation Syndicate by Captain J. Douglas Mail and Mr. Aston Redrup at Bulawayo in August, 1927, followed a year later (July 1928) by the transfer of the Aircraft Operating Company's main base from Northern Rhodesia to Bulawayo, and considerable local activity by that company.

Early in August, 1929, Pat joined the Johannesburg Light 'Plane Club at Baragwanath Aerodrome to undergo the flying and technical training necessary for the "B" commercial pilot's licence which he would require for his new career and, on August 31st, the Bulawayo Chronicle reported that "a Rhodesian farmer, Mr. D S. Judson, is now learning to fly with the J.L.P.C. - he went solo on the 27th".

One requirement for the "B" flying licence was that a candidate should have to his credit at least 200 hours of solo flying experience. Pat's wartime flying activities now stood him in good stead, for he was able to produce a letter from his erstwhile comrade-at-arms, Captain Wray Forshaw, certifying that while on active service he had amassed considerably more than the required minimum of flying time. With his flair for mathematics and his mechanical ability, Pat made short work of the theoretical and technical examinations and on September 23rd, he became proud possessor of South African 'B' Pilot's Licence No. 116 (4)

Pat remained in Johannesburg for several weeks after qualifying because, Baragwanath being the 'hub' of civil aviation in southern Africa at that time, he probably believed that the chances of securing or hearing of, suitable employment were more favourable there than elsewhere. There can be little doubt, too, that he applied to Major Miller for a post in his newly-formed company, Union Airways. Ltd. (5), and possibly also to the Port Elizabeth Light 'Plane Club (in order to be on Major Miller's 'doorstep').

Towards the end of October, however, Captain Benjamin Roxburgh Smith, pilot and manager of the Rhodesian Aviation Company, which had commenced operations in Bulawayo in April. 1929, had occasion to visit Johannesburg in one of the company's Avro Avian aircraf't, and, on November 1st, Pat returned with him to Rhodesia. It is uncertain whether Pat was offered a permanent position with the company at that time, or whether he accepted temporary employment pending news from Major Miller. At any rate, a telegraphed offer of' employment as pilot/instructor to the Port Elizabeth Light 'Plane Club, with an assurance that he would be released as soon as Major Miller required his services, was not accepted. This telegram reached Pat on Decembcr 14th, 1929, thus it may safely be assumed that he had by this time thrown in his lot with the Rhodesian Aviation Company as assistant pilot to Captain Roxburgh Smith.

At this time the company owned two Avro Avian and one de Havilland Moth aircraft: then, in February, 1930, a Blackburn Bluebird was brought into operation. The company's pilots were responsible tor a variety of duties including air taxi work, sight-seeing flights over the Victoria Falls, joy flights (generally referred to as 'flips') over any towns which possessed suitable landing fields, and the instruction of trainee pilots.

In 1929 the Government of Southern Rhodesia introduced a pilot-training scheme under which it undertook to "grant 750 per annum to each flying club on condition that five ab initio pilots be trained to 'A' licence. A further 50 will be paid for each pilot so trained and a flying grant of 30 to each pilot who obtained an 'A' licence the previous year. The balance will be given to the club as a grant-in-aid."

Since no flying club existed at Bulawayo, and that at Salisbury had no instructor, (6) it was agreed that the Rhodesian Aviation Company would enjoy the benefits of the Government grant provided that the conditions were fulfilled. The first four pilots to qualif'y under this scheme were Messrs. S. Harrison and J. Forrest Thomson of Bulawayo (trained mainly by Captain Roxburgh Smith) and Mr. B. Tubb and Mr. (now Dr.) C. E. R. Payne of Salisbury (under Pat Judson's instruction).

There were no qualified flying personnel on the staff of the Director of Civil Aviation, (7) so Captain Garth Trace, of the Aircraft Operating Company was appointed official examiner of trainee pilots at Bulawayo while Salisbury candidates were tested by Major Gilchrist, an ex-R.F.C. pilot.

An early example of 'bamba zonke' (8) now appears to have been perpetrated . . . although the Bulawayo trainees passed their tests on March 3rd (five days before those at Salisbury), Mr. Tubb was issued with Southern Rhodesian 'A' Pilot's licence No.1, Mr. Payne with No. 2. while Messrs. Harrison and Forrest Thomson were allocated Nos. 3 and 4 respectively.

Some months later Pat trained Mr. Freeland Fiander, who had lost his left arm, and who was able to manipulate the throttle control lever - normally operated with the left hand - by means of a special attachment controlled by his left shoulder."(9) Not long after this his wife, Mrs. Audrey Fiander (likewise trained by Pat) qualified for her licence, to become Rhodesia's first woman pilot.

Pat Judson, although official instructor to the Salisbury Flying Club, was in fact based at Bulawayo, and would fly up to Salisbury at fortnightly intervals, spend a few days on instruction work, then return to headquarters at Bulawayo. Later this became a weekly exercise - Bulawayo to Salisbury on Fridays, returning on Mondays - and at the Company's First Annual General Meeting on June 30th, 1930, the Chairman, Mr. F. Issels, referred to the 'regular service' which the Company operated between Bulawayo and the capital. While not advertised or officially classified as such, they may nevertheless be regarded as Rhodesia's first regular flights on which passenger bookings were accepted. One of the first VIP's to travel on this service was the Colonial Secretary, (10) the Hon. W. M. Leggate, C.M.G.; after a pleasant flight from Bulawayo to Salisbury he remarked ''I am going thoroughly to recommend the Premier to save time by adopting this form of locomotion.''

The Rhodesian Aviation Company's aircraft were available for air taxi work, and the most interesting facet of Pat Judson's flying activities would doubtless have been in this field. The aeroplane was slowly coming to be regarded as a serious method of transport - no longer a 'gimmick' - and enterprising business men (among others) discovered that they could reduce journeys to the more inaccessible areas from days - or even weeks - to hours; such as those to Nyasaland or Barotseland, which entailed many days of time-consuming travel via devious surface routes.

One of the first 'converts' was Mr. R. N. Wolton, representative of a prominent manufacturer of agricultural fertilisers, who flew from Salisbury to Lusaka on June 3rd, 1930, in (as the Bulawayo Chronicle put it) "a large aeroplane, piloted by Mr. Pat Judson, which landed on the Rugby football ground. Mr. Wolton is the first representative of a commercial firm to reach Lusaka by air." (This was probably true enough, for, as far as is known, it was the first aircraft ever to land at Lusaka.)

The Government of Northern Rhodesia evidently became interested in air travel as one method of overcoming its by no means inconsiderable transport problems; senior officials on tours of' inspection, etc., must have wasted days and weeks in non-productive travel time and one of the first recorded examples of the official use of the aeroplane in that territory was a flight to Mongu, in the Barotse Province, by Pat Judson conveying the Government Auditor, Mr. J. B. Hewlett, on his annual official official visit. Later the Bulawayo Chronicle reported: "The flight from Livingstone took under four hours (11) as against four weeks' travel by land and water which that official had to undertake on his visit last year."

The Northern Rhodesian authorities must have been satisfied with this performance for, a few weeks later, Pat and his aircraft were chartered to take Mr. C. C. Reade, Director of Planning and Development, on a 1,400-mile aerial tour embracing Ndola, Mpika, Fort Jameson, Lusaka and Livingstone. This journey, completed in a few days by air, would have consumed an equivalent number of weeks by surface transport.

The value of the aeroplane in cases of medical emergency came to be appreciated; on August 2nd, 1930, Pat flew Dr. N. G. C. Gane from Salisbury to Gatooma to perform an emergency operation. (12) A week later Miss Hope-Carson, a guest of Col. and Mrs. Judson at Kirton Farm, sustained a painful arm injury when thrown from a horse. Pat landed on the airstrip which had been prepared near the homestead and flew the young lady to Bulawayo for medical attention at the Memorial Hospital.

The aviation industry next collaborated with the entertainment world and subscribers to the Bulawayo Chronicle read, on September 30th: "Moving with the times. Pictures by Plane. Watch today for the Rhodesian Aviation Co.'s Plane piloted by Pat Judson carrying the film 'What a Man'. Prince's Salisbury last night - Prince's Bulawayo tonight."

Three weeks later - on October 2Ist - Pat was called to play a part in a drama which was unfolding near Beira. A Shell Company employee named Clarkson had lost himself in the bush while on a hunting expedition and, as serious misgivings were felt for his safety, the Company's Salisbury branch was requested to engage an aircraft to assist in the search which had been organised. Pat took off from Salisbury at 1 p.m. and landed at Umtali to refuel; here he was delayed by a slight mechanical defect and did not leave until 4 p.m. His progress being further retarded by strong head-winds, he did not reach Beira until after dark, and he circled above the town until a number of residents drove their cars to the landing ground, whereupon he was able to make a successful landing by the lights of their headlamps - the first recorded night landing at Beira. (Clarkson was later rescued by a ground party, exhausted but otherwise unharmed.)

A few days after this episode Pat - on Sunday, October 26th - flew Mr. C. J. Christowitz,(13) a Blantyre transport contractor, from Salisbury to Nyasaland, Ianding on a prepared ground at Limbe, a town five miles from Blantyre.(14) This was the first aircraft to land in the "commercial/administrative" area of Nyasaland (Blantyre/Limbe/Zomba) and the first civil land plane ever to visit the Protectorate. (15) The Bulawayo Chronicle of October 28th, quoting a report from Blantyre, stated "The pilot made a good landing at the air ground at Limbe amidst an excited crowd of natives, Indians and Europeans." The following morning Pat was the proud recipient of a telegram from the Governor of Nyasaland, Sir Shenton Thomas, which read ''Heartiest congratulations on your successful enterprise as first civil aviator to land in Nyasaland and trust you will be the forerunner of regular services."

Some weeks later Pat went on another interesting tour when Mr. S. Forsyth of Salisbury chartered the Moth for a business journey to Beira and thence up the north coast of Mozambique Province to Quelimane, the port of Mozambique, and Porto Amelia. No prepared airfields existed in this area and all landings had to be made on beaches and 'luangwas', which Pat described as 'sort of salt pans'. Fuel supplies presented no great problem as the Moth's engine consumed normal motor spirit, available in four-gallon cans of which he carried one or two spares in the luggage locker.

On the flight between Quelimane and Mozambique Pat landed at both Pebane and Angoche in order to re-fuel the aircraft. Later he wrote "While circling around prior to landing at Angoche thousands of natives had gathered and no sooner had the plane touched ground than we were surrounded by this yelling mob of smells."

It is understandable that Pat's aeroplane occasioned considerable interest, for it was the first ever seen by the inhabitants of most of the areas which he visited on this tour. After his return to Rhodesia he remarked that "... we met with nothing but co-operation and assistance - we were treated everywhere with overwhelming kindness and courtesy, and our visit was made perfectly delightful." Pat went on to sound a word of warning to others who might contemplate such a trip: "it does not do to travel in short sleeves; the heat of the sun was at times so terrific, even flying at 3,000 feet, that I found it necessary to drape bits of rag over my arms to keep them from blistering." (16)

Young Judson's aeronautical prowess was by now becoming recognised beyond the borders of Rhodesia, for on April 8th, 1931, he received an urgent telegram from the Johannesburg Light 'Plane Club, Baragwanath, offering him a post as pilot/instructor to that establishment. Pat did not accept the offer; perhaps he was aware of the imminent resignation from the Rhodesian Aviation Company of Captain Roxburgh Smith, which took effect at the end of May. On June 1st, therefore, Pat found himself manager and chief pilot of the Company, and the position of second pilot was taken by Mr. Miles Bowker, himself later to become one of Rhodesia's outstanding civil aviators. (17)

About a month after this Pat learned with pride that he had been accepted as an Associate Member of the Guild of Air Pilot and Navigators of the British Empire (G.A.P.A.N.).

Early in August, Pat visited Johannesburg, where he took delivery of the first of two D.H. Puss Moth aircraft which had been ordered by the Company. This was the first cabin-type aeroplane to operate commercially in Rhodesia, and it afforded a considerable advance in comfort to air travellers. Hitherto all passengers sat in open cockpits and, of necessity, wore flying helmets and goggles, a factor which must undoubtedly have discouraged many potential 'customers'. The Puss Moth, cruising at 100 m.p.h., was 20 per cent faster than the Moth which had previously been used for most air taxi work; and it could accomodate two passengers in addition to the pilot. (The Moth carried only one passenger.)

One of Pat's first assignments in the new machine was an urgent charter flight to Maun in Ngamiland, some 330 air miles west of Bulawayo. Following the destruction by fire of a trading store operated by a Mr. Deaconos, and a subsequent claim, an insurance official, Mr. E.H. Plasket, wished to survey the damage with the least possible delay. The condition of the road from Bulawayo to Maun via Francistown was, to say the least, indifferent, and the return journey involved several days of dusty, comfortless jolting - a problem to which the aeroplane provided the perfect answer. After an incident-free flight Pat landed successfully on the recently-constructed airstrip; the Maun correspondent of the Bulawayo Chronicle wrote:

"The aerodrome had never been used before - all the natives turned out to see the first flying machine to reach Maun. The visit of the aeroplane marked a red-letter day for Maun; we hope the visit is the forerunner of many more."

In mid-October, Pat and the new Puss Moth were commissioned to convey two commercial men, Mr. Herbert Moss of Bulawayo and Mr. E. Mocke of Ndola, to Dar-es-Salaam on a business visit. The availability of the new machine would almost certainly have been responsible for this charter - it seems unlikely that a journey of such magnitude would have been undertaken in the old Moth. The route which was followed included landings at Ndola, Mpika, Mbeya and Dodoma. At that time, as indeed for many years to follow, the sole navigational aids available to air pilots consisted of magnetic compass and small-scale maps, devoid of all but the most prominent landmarks (some maps indicated non-existent features) and, in poor visibility, the pilot's own sense of direction. Radio aids were many years in the future, and an airman's personal knowledge of the terrain was an invaluable attribute.

It is evident that Pat Judson's aesthetic senses were not lacking; he enjoyed the freshness of Mbeya, in the Southern Highlands of Tanganyika. "The scenery there is beautiful" he said later, "All the grass is green, there is plenty of water and the air is delightfully cold - a welcome relief after the heat at Ndola." And of Dar-es-Salaam: "The first glimpse was an inspiring one; everywhere was green grass and green trees - pretty houses and gardens, while the sheltered harbour scintillated in the afternoon sun."

Such interesting excursions must have provided a pleasant variation from the comparatively humdrum duties of pilot-training which, of course, formed an essential part of the Company's activities, and had to be pursued. Thus, in mid-November Pat was back in Salisbury in his role of official instructor to the Salisbury Flying Club.

Friday, November 20th, 1931, proved to be a tragic day in the annals of Rhodesian aviation. Shortly before 8 a.m. Pat and Mr. A.G.E. Speight, (18) a member of the Salisbury Flying Club and only son of Mr. A.E. Speight, K.C., Solicitor-General of Southern Rhodesia, climbed into Moth VP-YAB and strapped themselves in. Mr. Cyril Paine, who had just made a short flight in the Moth, swung the propeller for them, and they taxied out and took off. 'Jock' Speight had been taught to fly by Pat, and he held an 'A' Flying Licence, but as some time had elapsed since his last flight, it was necessary for him to undergo a short 'refresher'; and the purpose of this exercise was to perform a few manoeuvres, particularly landings (generally referred to in flying parlance as 'circuits and bumps') under Pat's supervision before again flying solo.

After completing several practice take-offs and landings something went wrong while flying at a height estimated as about 100 feet and, according to an eye-witness "the machine dropped horizontally, wobbled and rocked, then perpendicularly dived - she seemed to spin as she went down."

VP-YAB crashed on the edge of the aerodrome (later known as Belvedere) and was completely destroyed; Pat Judson was killed instantly and young Speight so grievously injured that he died that afternoon.

Southern Rhodesia was all but thrown into national mourning - all social activities and sporting fixtures for the following week-end were cancelled. Both victims were accorded military funerals, at which the highest in the land were either present or represented.

Tributes to the two young men - Pat's age was 33, that of 'Jock' Speight 26 - came from all quarters: in an editorial next morning the Rhodesia Herald wrote: "... the first tragedy in the history of ten years of civil aviation... it was one of the inscrutable decrees of Providence that through it Rhodesia should have lost two of her younger citizens whom she could least afford to spare". The Bulawayo Chronicle: "... it is distressing in the extreme to realise that the first (fatal air) accident in this country in which Rhodesians have been involved has terminated the careers of two able and promising young men who, had they been spared, might have served their land, though in different spheres, in the same sound way as their fathers have done." The Sunday News of Bulawayo on November 22nd commented: "Many would have picked out these two as the 'born and bred' Rhodesians whose character and career seemed to show most promise for the future." Mr. Justice McIlwaine said in the High Court, Bulawayo on the 25th: "If one had been asked to select two of the finest examples of Rhodesian youth I cannot think of anyone with higher claims than Mr. Speight and his companion in disaster, Mr. Pat Judson."

Those concerned with aeronautical matters soon began to speculate on the probable cause of the accident. Members of the Salisbury Flying Club held an informal meeting on the following day to discuss the tragedy, and the consensus was that "when something went wrong Judson left it to Speight to correct while Speight left it to Judson, and in the few seconds that elapsed the machine lost flying speed irretrievably and crashed before anything could be done."

The verdict at the official enquiry held at the High Court, Salisbury, before the Chief Magistrate, Mr. N.H. Chataway, on Friday, December 4th was "Death by misadventure due to an air crash from an unknown cause: the accident was not due to any mechanical defect." Mr. Chataway added, "I have come to the conclusion that the accident must have been caused by a stall in turning into the aerodrome."

While the true cause will never be established beyond doubt, it seems probable that the members of the Salisbury Flying Club had not been far wrong in their assessment.

There are two points which are perhaps worthy of note. Firstly, VP-YAB was an early Moth, not equipped with Handley-Page automatic 'slots', as were later machines of this type. These slots were strips of metal which normally rested flush with the leading edge of the upper mainplane (wing), and as the aircraft slowed down to the point of 'stalling' (losing forward speed to the extent that it was no longer supported in the air by virtue of such forward speed) the slots would automatically move out and disturb the flow of air over the top of the wing to provide additional buoyancy and stability at low speeds. They also afforded a visible indication of an impending aerodynamic stall, and aircraft not so equipped could slip out of control at low speeds with considerably less warning than might those which featured these devices.

The second point is that intercommunication between the two cockpits of Moth aircraft was by means of the 'Gosport Tube' system - a non-electric tube of approximately 3/4-inch diameter leading directly from a mouth-piece in front of one pilot to earphones in the helmet of the other. Thousands have been taught to fly by this means, but misunderstandings were certainly not impossible. (19) The first fatal air accident in Kenya occurred on March 12th, 1928, in a Moth aircraft similar to VP-YAB; in this Lady Maia Carberry and a trainee pilot to whom she was imparting flying instruction lost their lives in circumstances which would appear to have been almost identical. That accident was attributed to a probable misunderstanding between instructor and trainee.

During the months that followed a subscription list was opened and considerable thought was given to a suitable memorial to Pat Judson. Then, on August 1st, 1932, a letter appeared in the Bulawayo Chronicle above Col. Dan Judson's signature:

"I have been advised by the Secretary of the Rhodesian Aviation Company that a sum of 171 has been subscribed by my late son's friends and admirers towards a memorial to his memory as a pioneer pilot of Rhodesia; in addition, a valuable cup (20), suitable as a trophy, has been given by Mr. Gordon Cooper. (21)

I have the names of the subscribers in front of me as I write, and I see that they cover a wide field and that the sums vary from 5 to 5 shillings, which is gratifying as a token of the esteem in which my son was held.

My wife and I were asked by the Aviation Company to say the form we should like the memorial to take, but we both feel that we should like suggestions to come from others, and I therefore invite those interested to communicate either with me or the Aviation Company or to express their views through the courtesy of the Press."

A few days later the Chronicle reported that "Friends of Pat Judson in the Rhodesian Aviation Company have erected a memorial in the hangar at Bulawayo Aerodrome ,(22) in the form of a bench in solid red Rhodesian teak. It has a brass plate inscribed 'In Memory of Pat Judson' and on it stands a framed set of three photographs of the young pilot. The first shows him in France in 1917, the second on the beach at St. (Porto) Amelia in 1931 and the last a portrait taken very shortly before his death." (23)

An interesting suggestion came from Mr. Nigel Norman, Chairman of Airwork Ltd., of England, who, having been appointed Technical Adviser on Aviation to the Beit Trustees, (24) visited Bulawayo in February, 1933, during the course of an aerial tour of the Rhodesias. Upon his return to England he submitted a most comprehensive report, one of the recommendations of which was that "the route beacon light to be installed at Bulawayo be of the course-indicating type, with a flash aligned on Sengazani (en route from Pietersburg) and on Que Que (en route from Salisbury).(25) It is suggested that the supporting tower be constructed of stone to an architect's design and dedicated as a memorial to the late Mr. Patrick Judson." Any relevant suggestions from local sources must have been directed to Col. Judson or to the Aviation Company, for nothing further appears to have been published in the Press.

The cup referred to by Col. Judson in his letter to the Bulawayo Chronicle was manufactured in England and was delivered to Rhodesia in 1936 (26) by which time it had been decided to name it the "Pat Judson Memorial Floating Trophy", and that it would awarded annually for "the most meritorious flight of the year" by a pilot, male or female, private or commercial, who was domiciled in Southern Rhodesia. The funds subscribed would be used for the provision of miniatures, (27) and for administrative costs.

The Trophy was administered by the Department of Civil Aviation, and nominees for awards were submitted either by flying clubs or by individuals. First recipient of the award, in 1936, was Mr. B. Danby Gray, (28) pilot for Lonrho (London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Company, Ltd.) for a flight from England to Rhodesia in that Company's new D.H.90 Dragonfly aircraft, registration VP-YBB. In 1937 Mr. Miles Bowker received the award for a night flight from Salisbury to Johannesburg in Rhodesian and Nyasaland Airways' Dragonfly VP-YAX, carrying urgently-required films of the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in May of that year.

The last pre-war recipient was Mr. H.H.C. Perrem of Umtali, to whom the Trophy was awarded for an adventurous flight from Umtali to Europe and back by him and his wife in an open-cockpit two-seater Heinkel HE64D monoplane, registration VP-YBI. Mr. Perrem writes:

"... Application (for award of the Trophy) was made in our absence whilst my wife and I were on the flight, and submitted by the then Umtali Flying Club. Although the award was made to the pilot, we both took an equal share in the flight, which was carried out as an exercise holiday, and with no prior knowledge of the possibility of the award. The presentation was made by the Municipal Council of Umtali at a full meeting of the Council. After holding the Trophy for one year, it was surrendered by me to the Department of Civil Aviation, and a miniature was sent to me, which is still in my possession."

No award was made in 1939: nominations were generally considered soon after the end of each year and in January, 1940, World War II being four months old, the attention of all concerned was claimed by matters of a more urgent and serious nature. The Department of Civil Aviation had been absorbed by the Rhodesian Air Training Group and custody of the Trophy was taken over by the Rhodesian Pioneers' and Early Settlers' Society, of which Col. Dan Judson was then Secretary. Its subsequent war-time history is somewhat obscure, but after Col. Judson's death in November, 1942, (29) it may have been loaned to the Rhodesian Air Training Group for, on April 9th, 1943, Fledgling, an Air Force magazine issued by the Initial Training Wing of the Royal Air Force Station at Hillside, Bulawayo, made the following jubilant announcement:

"I.T.W. Wins Pat Judson Memorial Trophy! This Trophy was originally offered for the most meritorious flight of the year, but due to the changed conditions of war-time it has been decided that it should be awarded to the cock station of this area for sport. The results of the 1942/43 sports season are as follows: I.T.W. 19 points, Kumalo 15, Heany 10, Induna 9." (30)

After the war the Trophy's existence was all but forgotten by most of the aviation community in Rhodesia - newcomers had never heard of it - but it seems that it remained in the custody of the Pioneers' and Early Settlers' Society for some years. In March, 1951, the President of the Society wrote to the Director of Civil Aviation, Salisbury, suggesting that administration of the Trophy be resumed on a similar basis to that of pre-war days, but nothing came of this. Then, in 1952, Mrs. Dan Judson decided to present the Trophy, the remaining miniatures and the Trust Fund to Pat's old school, Milton, with the suggestion that annual awards be made for the best model aircraft constructed and flown by youngsters, and there is evidence that this was done for a while before petering out due, presumably, to lack of interest.

In September, 1963, the author mentioned the existence, whereabouts and early history of the Trophy to the Secretary of the Rhodesia Division of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Mr. S.H. Guy, who suggested to the Committee of that Society that, if possible, it be re-instated in its original purpose, under the Society's auspices. Protracted correspondence then ensued between the Society, the headmaster of Milton School and Mrs. Mazoe Bovell - now Mrs. Robbs (31) - the sister of the late Pat Judson, and only surviving member of the Judson family. (32) Eventually it was agreed that the Society would assume administration of the Trophy, which would thenceforth be awarded for meritorious flying work - not necessarily a particular flight - as the nature of flying has altered considerably during the intervening years. The Trophy, now being the property of Milton School, would have to remain there, but would be loaned to the Society at the time of the award, in October each year. As before, the recipient of the award would be presented with a miniature which, however, would be of rather less elaborate design than the originals (due to the extremely high present-day cost of the latter).

The first post-war award of the Pat Judson Trophy was made in 1963, the recipient being Mr. C.H. Prince, whose aeronautical career in Rhodesia dates back to 1937; the majority of his flying has been in the field of instruction, and the award was made in recognition of his devoted and prolonged services in that branch of aviation.

A break with tradition was made in 1965, until which time all awards had been made for flights by male pilots in powered aircraft. That year the recipient was Miss Caroline Rowe, whose award was in recognition of her achievements in the field of gliding - in particular for a record flight at Colorado Springs, U.S.A., on February 22nd, 1965, in which she reached an altitude of no less than 33,000 feet above sea level. Not only is Miss Rowe the first woman recipient of the Trophy, but she is able to claim the additional distinction of being the youngest ever.

In 1966 the award was, for the first time, made collectively, and went to "The Beaver Pilots of Central African Airways" for many years' safe operation of these small single-engined aircraft over remote bush areas of Malawi and Zambia. The miniature was received on behalf of all the Beaver pilots by First Officer R.L. van Rooyen, C.A.A.'s most experienced pilot in this type of aircraft.

The death of Pat Judson was a tragedy which those who had the privilege of knowing him will never forget. Let it be hoped that the Pat Judson Memorial Flying Trophy will ensure that his name is remembered by those who did not have that privilege.


1. The First Mazoe Patrol.
2. The Second Mazoe Patrol.
3. St. George's School was later transferred to Salisbury, and became St. George's College. Milton School was originally established in Borrow St., Bulawayo.
4. All South African pilots' licences, private and commercial, were enumerated consecutively on a common register. Pat's was therefore the 116th flying licence issued since the introduction of the Aviation Act in 1927. In Rhodesia the Aviation Act was promulgated on April 1st, 1930, whereupon Pat was issued with Southern Rhodesian 'B' Pilot's Licence No. 1.
5.Union Airways, based at Fairview Aerodrome, Port Elizabeth, was established on July 24th, 1929.
6. The first flying instructor at Salisbury was Major S.C. 'Sandy' Wynne-Eyton, who was also the first Rhodesian private owner of an aircraft, a Moth - hence his sobriquet 'Moth-Eyton'. He left to join Wilson Airways, of Nairobi, soon after its inception in mid-1929.
7. The Government Department styled 'Civil Aviation', established in 1930, was administered by the Department of Defence until 1936. The duties of Director of Civil Aviation were undertaken by the Commandant of Territorial Forces, Colonel G. Parson, D.S.O.
8. "Bamba Zonke" - a term meaning 'grab the lot' or, more loosely 'skim the cream'. Applied in jest in later years to Salisbury, which, being the capital, was sometimes suspected of feathering its nest at the expense of others.
9. Manufactured to approved aircraft standards by the Rhodesian Aviation Company's Ground Engineer, Mr. R.T. 'Steve' Launder.
10. Then a Rhodesian Government rank, not to be confused with a similar title in the British Government; later known as the Minister for Internal Affairs.
11. Livingstone was then the capital of Northern Rhodesia.
12. Not long afterwards Dr. Gane himself qualified for his 'A' Flying Licence.
13. Early in 1931 he formed Christowitz Air Services, Nyasaland's first flying enterprise, which operated successfully until taken over by Rhodesian and Nyasaland Airways on February 1st, 1934.
14. The twin towns later amalgamated under the control of a single municipality.
15. Previous aircraft known to have visited Nyasaland were:

a.) A B.E.20 of the R.F.C., which operated from Fort Johnston for a short period in late-1917.
b.) A Dornier 'Mercury' float plane, flown by Swiss airman Walter Mittelholzer, alighted at Karonga on Lake Nyasa on February 3rd, 1927 - and at Fort Johnston on February 4th - en route for Cape Town via Beira and the east coast.
c.) A Short 'Singapore' flying boat, in charge of Sir Alan Cobham, arrived at Fort Johnston on March 3rd, 1928, and departed for Beira and the Cape on March 4th.

16. The Moth was an open-cockpit aircraft.
17. Miles Brunette Bowker lost his life on active service in the Mediterranean theatre during World War II.
18. 'Jock' Speight was captain of the Rhodesian cricket team which played against the first official M.C.C. team to visit Rhodesia, in 1929.
19. Terms commonly used in flying instruction were "You've got her!" or "I've got her!". The author once found himself sitting with folded arms in a Puss Moth - a much more docile aeroplane than the Moth and in which, being a cabin type, no Gosport Tube was necessary - while his instructor was doing likewise, each for a while believing that the other "had her".
20. The intrinsic value of the cup was, at the time, put at over 300.
21. A prominent farmer in the Essexvale district, by whom Pat Judson was held in very high esteem.
22. Later known as Kumalo (when the R.A.F. established an air station there in 1940).
23. The bench and photographs are, like the Trophy, now the property of Milton School.

From: RHODESIANA No. 16, July 1967.

Return to Main Page