the flying boats represent a bygone age of travel. The Short Empire was the most successful flying-boat airliner ever built. Designed to a specification for Imperial Airways, then Britain’s national airline, it carried passengers and, more importantly, mail throughout the British Empire. The airliner offered luxurious travel for the privileged few, every journey being an adventure shared by passengers and crew.Short Brothers built 42 Empires at their factory in Rochester during the late 1930s. Imperial Airways were expanding their network to the furthermost outposts of the British Empire, whilst laying down the principles of scheduled airline operation.