Out of Africa DH60 sale to benefit conservation charities
A famous de Havilland DH60 Moth is to be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in Miami, Florida, at the start of March. The 1929-vintage DH60GMW, G-AAMY, achieved its greatest fame in the multi-Academy Award-winning film Out of Africa, and has since gone on to be based in Africa for many years.
Built by the Moth Aircraft Corporation of America and initially registered N585M, the metal-framed aeroplane spent its first half-century with a succession of private owners around the USA. It was among the first US-manufactured DH60s to appear in the UK when Cliff Lovell acquired the machine in 1979, the registration G-AAMY — which had not been used by any aircraft in period — being allocated the following year as a tribute to Amy Johnson.
It was during Lovell’s ownership that, in early 1985, the Moth became involved in the filming of Out of Africa, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford as, respectively, Danish countess Karen Blixen and British aviator Denys Finch-Hatton. The aircraft was dismantled and shipped in two crates to Frankfurt, from where it was flown in a German freighter to Nairobi, Kenya, where it was reassembled and re-rigged. Flown by Lovell and Jens Hassel, it appears prominently in numerous scenes, with the temporary identity of ‘G-AAMT’. Memorable scenes were filmed with the DH60 in Nairobi and in Tanzania’s Serengeti Game Park, while it was also used at Shepperton Studios and Walkeridge Farm near Basingstoke.
Subsequent owners, from 1987 onwards, have been Roger Fiennes, auctioneer and historic racing driver Robert Brooks and Dutch automobile collector Evert Louwman. A previous auction in Paris during 2013 led to G-AAMY being purchased by Jochen Zeitz of the Segera Ranch and Retreat in Kenya, where it has been flown regularly. The Moth is equipped with a 135hp DH Gipsy II engine in place of its previous Wright-built Gipsy for more practical operation in Africa. It currently has 1,525.1 hours on the airframe and 27.1 hours on the powerplant.
The sale — which also includes the aeroplane’s original undercarriage and spoked wheels — is being undertaken to raise awareness and funds towards a vast new rhinoceros sanctuary in central Kenya, returning critically endangered rhino to the Segera Conservancy as part of the Zeitz Foundation’s effort to create one of the largest such sanctuaries in the world; 100 per cent of the hammer price will go to this aim. Robert Redford said, “I couldn’t think of a better way to raise funds for this ground-breaking project than through the auction of one of the most iconic airplanes in history, G-AAMY.”
For many years, the DH60 has been maintained by the renowned Langham, Norfolk-based de Havilland expert Henry Labouchere. He will be on-site in Miami to advise any interested parties, and is happy to offer his services to the new owner, with all post-sale assistance at the buyer’s expense. The Sotheby’s sale takes place at the ModaMiami event, being held at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, on 1-2 March.