This souvenir sheet celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first South African airmail flight. It  depicts the Blériot monoplane in 1911, which performed  the first South African airmail flight between Kenilworth and Muizenberg. The Muizenberg Post-office was the first in South Africa to receive an airmail.


100th anniversary of the first South African airmail flight

Text by Louise van Niekerk
Technical Information:

100th anniversary of the first South African airmail flight
Stamp issue date: 7 October 2011 
Artwork: Paul Treleven
Stamp size: 40.6 x 24 mm
Miniature sheet size: 110 x 90 mm
Paper: Yellow Green Phosphore 102 gsm
Gum: PVA gum 
Quantity printed: 100 000 miniature sheets
Colour: CMYK + phosphor
Printing process: Offset Lithography 
Printed by: Cartor Security Printing, France

Philatelists with an interest in aircraft on stamps, aviation history and South African postal history will be delighted to know that this year’s World Post Day stamp will highlight the 100th anniversary of the first South African airmail flight. The South African Post office will commemorate this historical flight, with a miniature sheet, an airmail postcard rate stamp and a first-day cover.

South Africa’s World Post Day miniature sheet in the shape of a Blériot monoplane will be issued on 7 October. Paul Treleven created the artwork for the miniature sheet as well as for the stamp depicting the monoplane in flight.

In 1911, the South African Minister of Posts and Telegraphs consented to the first conveyance of airmail between Kenilworth and Muizenburg.  This made Muizenburg Post Office the first in Africa to receive airmail.

Special postcards were printed by Messes Whitehead/Morris to mark the occasion. They were sold for 1/- (10c). A special hand stamp for franking the postcards was provided by the Post Office and, like the design of the postcard, had been modelled on those used in the pioneer airmail in Britain. A total of 2 597 postcards were printed. They were date stamped in Muizenberg and Kenilworth and distributed by mail.

On 27 December 1911, Evelyn (Bok) Driver, considered to be a superb “instinctive navigator” and also a pioneer of British Royal Mail Service, delivered by air, 729 of the special postcards to the Muizenberg Post Office. According to the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society, the aircraft took off from the Kenilworth Race Course at 19:15 and landed at Oldham’s Field on the verges of Zandvlei in Muizenberg, a distance of almost 13 km (approximately eight miles). Oldham was a chemist and his field was used as a dairy farm and sports ground.

Postmaster PJ Hutchings, who met the Blériot monoplane, received the postcards and presented the pilot with return post. The aircraft returned safely to Kenilworth at 20:10. The flight lasted only 7,5 minutes.

On 3 January 1912, the same pilot and aircraft undertook a second flight from Kenilworth to Muizenberg and back.

The Blériot monoplane was named after French aviator Louis Bleriot. Bleriot built a monoplane in 1907 and flew it across the English Channel in 1909. This was the first airplane flight across the English Channel between Europe and Great Britain.

Source: South African Post Office