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First England-Australia flight
Title : First England-Australia flight First England-Australia flight
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Creator : Smith, Keith Macpherson, Sir, 1890-1955
Source : PRG 18/34/12
Date of creation : 1939-1971
Format : Object
Catalogue record
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Donated by : Donated by Lady Anita Smith
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

Fan produced by John Martin & Co., commemorating the first England-Australia flight.

In 1919 the Australian Commonwealth Government sponsored an 'Air Race', offering a prize of A£10,000 for the first aviators to fly from England to Australia within 30 consecutive days.

South Australian brothers Ross and Keith Smith took up the challenge. On 12 November 1919, a twin-engined Vickers Vimy bomber G-EAOU left London under the command of Captain Ross Smith. Lieutenant Keith Smith was co-pilot and navigator. Wartime comrades Sergeants Wally Shiers of Stepney, South Australia, and Jim Bennett of St Kilda, Victoria, crewed as mechanics.

The avaitors decided that the international marking on the plane stood for 'God 'Elp All of Us', an indication of the gruelling conditions that they encountered on their epic flight. Cramped conditions on the aeroplane, frequent landings for refuelling and repairs, and dangerous weather conditions tested the competitors. The average speed for the flight was approximately 81 miles per hour.

Their winning flight of 27 days and 20 hours landed in Darwin on 10 December 1919. Their prize cheque was awarded by Prime Minister Billy Hughes, and the crew received a tumultuous welcome on return to Australia. In 1921 the brothers were knighted by King George in London.

The restored winning Vickers Vimy aircraft, the first aircraft to fly from England to Australia, is displayed at Adelaide Airport. The record-breaking flight contributed towards opening up Australia to international air travel.

Period : 1919-1927
Further reading :

The Sir Ross Smith flight: official souvenir, [Sydney]: Union Theatres, [192-?]

Price, A. Grenfell. The skies remember: the story of Ross and Keith Smith, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1969

Hooper, Meredith. God 'elp all of us: three great flights, North Ryde, N.S.W. : Methuen, 1986

Internet links :
Australian Dictionary of Biography online see: Smith, Sir Ross Macpherson (1892-1922); Smith, Sir Keith Macpherson (1890-1955)

Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith

'Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith' 891 ABC Afternoon delights at the State Library [of SA]

Adelaide Airportsee: Corporate: History



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