After eight years of planning, preparation and research, our team will retrace and explore the story of this little known and largely undocumented historic route and learn more about the experiences and backgrounds of Tom and the many other airmen who came from Canada, America, New Zealand, Poland and beyond, to fly it.
For the first time since the war, period aircraft will once again take to the skies and daringly attempt to fly the Takoradi Run. But this is no air show stunt, it will be a huge challenge – by even attempting it expedition members will experience at first hand the incredible hardship faced by these daring young pilots and understand just what an amazing feat of flying this was.
After learning about Tom’s Scottish background and the RAF training he and thousands of others received, the team will use his words, recorded in his fiancée Josephine’s journal, to pick up the story in Takoradi, Ghana. Here, like for so many airmen before them, their journey begins.
As details of the Takoradi Run are largely undocumented, the findings of this film will be of major historic significance. With the help of local experts, the team must uncover new archaeological evidence and learn how this fledgling base worked. By exploring the deep-water port facilities at Sekondi, where the crated fighters from England arrived, the assembly areas, living quarters and runways … slowly a picture of life in 1940’s Takoradi will emerge. But who were these international airmen? And what did it really take to fly an aircraft across an unmapped continent?
Using expert guides and meticulous research, the team hopes to trace Tom’s incredible journey through this subtropical savanna. Do the local tribes remember the incident? Can the team discover the crash site of the Blenheim bomber? And crucially will they be able to locate the grave of the dead pilot giving him a chance at repatriation to his mother country and family nearly 80 years later?
The only way to answer some of these questions is to physically fly the route. Named after Tom’s fiancée, ‘Josephine’ will be the expedition’s Spitfire and iconic mascot. Once they have mastered this historic plane, the team’s pilots will take to the skies and attempt to retrace the Takoradi Run – learning first-hand how it was done, discovering the many challenges of both tropical and desert flying and finally understanding just what an incredible feat of flying this was.
On the journey ‘Josephine’ will be paying special tribute to those who died for our freedom and still remain missing today. The list of the missing included Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who, in 1943, wrote one of the world’s favourite children’s books, The Little Prince. Antoine disappeared whilst on a reconnaissance flight in 1944. He remained ‘missing’ until the wreck of his P-38 Lightning aircraft was found on the ocean floor off the coast of France in 1998.
‘Josephine’’ will link up with schools along the route of her flight path, and – similar to the desert mail routes flown in the 1920s by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – she will collect and deliver letters at each stopping point on her journey – letters from children with their messages for the world we live in now.