1948 Gemini survey of East Africa

1948 Gemini survey of East Africa

'We faced over six months of intensive flying' remembers Stuart King. 'Countries and places which had been mere names on maps in our London office were now to become very real to us'.

So were their varied peoples, living conditions and travel needs. Our first and longest journey, which lasted a month, took us in a great loop of 3,000 miles, from Nairobi in East Africa across the huge expanse of the Belgian Congo (now Zaire) to Leopoldville, the modern Kinshasa, in the extreme west, then back by a more northerly route.

Excerpt taken from Stuart Kings account of the survey flight recorded in Hope Has Wings.

After that we flew initially into the more isolated parts of Kenya and north-west to Arua in Uganda. From there we made a detailed exploration of north-east Congo before flying a further 500 miles to French Equatorial Africa where we visited some of the remotest places in the continent. Finally we went south into Rwanda and Burundi, planning to return to Nairobi before we tackled the last phase: a survey of Tanganyika.

During each visit we faithfully worked through our set questionnaires. Apart from that, we saw, as we travelled, the dramatic differences in landscape and climate. We began to realise some of the problems of operating in the bush and, incidentally, also discovered how inadequate and unreliable were many of the maps then available.

Landscape of the Congo

The responses of missionaries to our ideas were extremely varied: some enthusiastic, some cautious, some quite dismissive. The reactions of Africans to the plane varied too, especially where they’d never seen one before.

Love history? Throughout 2018 we'll be looking back at some of the key events that help shape us! So follow us on Facebook to join the journey.