Trucks & Heavy Equipment | 30 December 2016Airstream African Caravan 1955 Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Airstream travel trailers were reaching their zenith in the 1950s as post-war America hit the highways like never before. Airstream founder Wally Byam, always the showman, decided it was time to attempt the greatest caravan of all time. In 1955 he hatched a plan to lead a group of intrepid travelers on a true adventure of a lifetime: a trip from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt, across some of the most difficult terrain on the planet. It was bold, daring, and more than a little dangerous. Wally had no trouble finding others willing to try. Sure, it would be strenuous, he told them, but it would also be fun. And so it was—one of the most daring and audacious trips ever, a true tribute to Wally’s vision. From the new book Airstream: America’s World Traveler is a photographic look at the expedition. On the road in Africa, location unknown. Note the two men in the left foreground carrying rifles for protection from lions and tigers. During the trip, Wally was introduced to Emperor Haile Selassie I, whose titles, in addition to Emperor of Ethiopia, included Elect of God, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Zion, and King of Kings. The planned route of the 1959 Caravan through Africa, which began in Cape Town, South Africa, and wound its way north to Cairo, Egypt. Wally scouts the route ahead, or maybe he’s just enjoying a good view. Cowboy boots were a favorite part of his attire. Lucky Airstream caravaners got to visit the original Abu Simbel site during the African Caravan. This fabulous monument, located in Nubia, Southern Egypt, was moved to a new location during the 1960s to make way for the much-needed Aswan Dam. A couple of International pickups tow their trailers across a small, sturdy- looking bridge spanning a deep gorge in Africa. On the road in Ethiopia, this traveler’s International truck with a handy camper cap on the back got stuck in the mud. Thankfully, he has plenty of men to help push him out of the muck. Judging by the beret and cowboy boots, that’s Wally Byam looking on. Another stop along the route in Africa, here visiting some ancient ruins. Iowa natives Arthur and Ellen Martin are pictured standing by fabulous Victoria Falls in southern Africa on the Zambezi River, at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Buy from an Online Retailer Iconic, aluminum-bodied Airstream trailers have been around for 85 years–get the full story in this photo-rich book. Airstream is America’s best and oldest manufacturer of travel trailers, and those retro silver coaches are iconic on America’s highways. Representative of the age-old desire to explore, these trailers are unmistakable in design with distinctive aerodynamic rounded lines and an aluminum outer skin. Airstream: America’s World Traveler celebrates the eight decades since the first Airstream graced America’s highways. Airstream chronicles the fascinating history of Airstream trailers through a detailed history, stories, and beautiful photography. Although its roots stretch back to 1926, the first Airstream-brand trailers were introduced in 1936, just as America was emerging from the dark days of the Great Depression. Of the 400 travel-trailer manufacturers of that era, only Airstream survived. Dubbed the “Airstream Clipper” after the first trans-Atlantic seaplane, the 1936 Airstream featured a unique lightweight aluminum body that cut down on wind resistance, improved fuel efficiency, and made for easier towing. It slept four, carried its own water supply, was fitted with electric lights, and cost $1,200. The Airstream provided travelers with a way to see the world at their leisure and in solid comfort. It was the perfect vehicle for a country emerging from a long struggle. In the eight decades since that first Airstream, the company has produced some of the finest trailers in the world and gained a worldwide reputation as the Rolls-Royce of travel trailers. The Airstream story is one of travel, adventure, and memories that last a lifetime. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.