Gordon Pirie
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Imperial encounters
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Far from being disembodied machinists, private pilots who dashed about the Empire were social creatures. Their individual characters and dispositions were unique, of course, but they were all moulded in late imperial times and traditions. Before Amy Johnson and Jean Batten, the most prominent British women who flew across the Empire were the Duchess of Bedford, Lady Bailey and Lady Heath. A violent thunderstorm between Dodoma and Juba obliged the Duchess's party to land on the Imperial Airways emergency air field at Nimule. Lady Bailey admired French air initiatives in West Africa, and was generally grateful for hospitality in French-speaking Africa. Lady Heath started out from Cape Town for London in February 1928. Before beginning her 6,150 mile flight in a light plane, she gave lectures and flying exhibitions, and helped to arrange an air race in South Africa.

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