South Africa 1931 Sir Lowrys Pass Crash, 1st SA Airmail Disaster


SA: 1931 SIR LOWRY'S PASS CRASH (first SA Airmail disaster): Registered cover from Durban (cds 12 NOV 31) to Cape Town franked with 6d orange tree, 4d air stamp. Although charred at edges (as usual for mail recovered from this crash) the body of envelope (including address panel) remains sound and attractive. Accompanied by roneoed notelet "The Dept of Posts & Telegraphs of the Union of South Africa tenders regret for the damage to the enclosed letter caused through the crash & destruction by fire of the aeroplane conveying the Air Mail between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town on Friday November 13th 1913". The crash was caused by structural failure of the Puss Moth wing in turbulence over Sir Lowry's Pass (unlucky date Friday 13.11.13 too!). The pilot Capt W F Davenport and his two passengers together with most of the mail were incinerated. As the mail was of an entirely commercial nature few pieces survive. This is one of only two registered items we have recorded ex this crash. VF, rare. See additional images below.
Nine disasters involving the structural failure of Puss Moth wings occurred worldwide; the type was withdrawn from service and replaced by the more sturdily constructed Leopard Moth.

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