//
you're reading...
Australian History

On this day (Australia): In 1919, Keith and Ross Macpherson Smith set out to fly a Vickers Vimy from England to Australia


Vickers Vimy G-EAOU

On 12 November 1919, Keith and Ross Macpherson Smith set out to fly a Vickers Vimy, G-EAOU, from England to Australia, the first flight between these two places. They arrived in Darwin on December 18.

In early 1919, the Commonwealth Government of Australia offered a prize of £A10,000 for the first flight from Great Britain to Australia, under specific conditions.

In May 1919, Billy Hughes, Prime Minister of Australia, and Senator George Pearce, Minister for Defence (Australia), in consultation with the Royal Aero Club, stated that valid aircrews must all be Australian nationals, the aircraft must have been constructed in the British Empire, and the journey must be completed within 720 consecutive hours (30 days) and be completed before midnight on 31 December 1920.

The departure point must be either Hounslow Heath Aerodrome (for landplanes) or RNAS Calshot (for seaplanes and flying boats), with reporting points at Alexandria and Singapore, and final destination in the region of Darwin.

Each flight was to take place under the competition rules of the Royal Aero Club, that would supervise the start, and control the competition generally.

On 12 November 1919, the brothers, along with Sergeant Jim Bennett and Sergeant Wally Shiers, departed from Hounslow Heath Aerodrome, England, in a Vickers Vimy aeroplane, eventually landing in Darwin, Australia on 10 December, having taken less than 28 days with an actual flying time of 135 hours.

The four men shared the £10,000 prize money. Keith and Ross Smith were immediately knighted, while Shiers and Bennett were commissioned and each awarded a Bar to their Air Force Medals.

The aircraft is preserved in a museum at the Adelaide Airport in South Australia.

Contestants

Sopwith Wallaby

At 11.44 a.m. on 21 October 1919, Captain George Campbell Matthews AFC as pilot, and Sergeant Thomas D. Kay as mechanic, took off from Hounslow Heath Aerodrome in a Sopwith Wallaby (G-EAKS).

Bad weather caused delays at Cologne and Vienna, then they were imprisoned as suspected Bolsheviks in Yugoslavia, with further delays due to snow at Belgrade.

A cracked engine cylinder at Constantinople, and bad weather at Aleppo caused more delays. Finally, on 17 April 1920, the Wallaby crashed on landing at Grokgak, on Bali. Matthews was slightly injured.

Vickers Vimy

Vickers entered a converted Vimy bomber (G-EAOU) (the registration being whimsically said to stand for “God ‘elp all of us”), crewed by Captain Ross Macpherson Smith with his brother Lieutenant Keith Macpherson Smith as co-pilot and mechanics Sergeant W.H. (Wally) Shiers and Sergeant J.M. (Jim) Bennett

The Vimy left Hounslow Heath at 8.30 am on 12 November 1919.[5] It flew via Lyon, Rome, Cairo, Damascus, Basra, Karachi, Delhi, Calcutta, Akyab, Rangoon racecourse, Singora (Songkhla) (in Siam unscheduled in heavy rain), Singapore, Batavia and Surabaya Surabaya where the aircraft was bogged and had to make use of a temporary airstrip made from bamboo mats, reaching Darwin at 4.10pm on 10 December 1919.

The flight distance was estimated as 17,911 kilometres (11,123 mi) and total flying time was 135 hours 55 minutes (131.8 km/h or 81.9 mph).

The prize money was shared between the Smith brothers and the two mechanics. The Smith brothers each received a knighthood for this exploit, and the company presented their aircraft to the Australian government. It is now displayed at Adelaide Airport.

Alliance P.2

On 13 November 1919, Lieutenant Roger M. Douglas, MC DCM and Lieutenant J.S.L. Ross took off from Hounslow Heath in an Alliance P.2 Seabird (G-EAOX) named ‘Endeavour’. It crashed in an orchard in Surbiton; Ross was killed outright, and Douglas died soon after of his injuries.

Blackburn Kangaroo

A team with a Blackburn Kangaroo (G-EAOW) had selected as navigator the Australian aviator Charles Kingsford Smith. Smith withdrew from the contest, and Captain Hubert Wilkins MC and bar took his place.

On 21 November 1919, the Kangaroo took off from Hounslow Heath, piloted by Lieutenant V. Rendle with Captain Wilkins, Lieutenant D.R. Williams and Lieutenant Garnsey St. C. Potts as crew.

Problems were experienced with the engines, and the plane was forced down over France. Repairs were made and the flight continued, still with engine problems. On 8 December 1919, the aircraft crash-landed at Suda Bay, Crete, ending up against the fence of a mental hospital. The crew escaped without injury.

Martinsyde Type A

On 5 December 1919, Captain Cedric E. Howell and Lieutenant George Henry Fraser left London in a Martinsyde Type A Mk.I (G-EAMR) aircraft. On 9 December, the aircraft disappeared near Corfu.

The wreckage and Howell’s body were found offshore, but Fraser’s body was never found.

Airco DH.9

On 8 January 1920, Airco DH.9 (G-EAQM), piloted by Lieutenant Ray Parer, with co-pilot Lieutenant John C. McIntosh, took off from Hounslow Heath. The aircraft completed the flight, the first by a single-engined machine, in an epic 206 days later on 2 August 1920, earning Parer the sobriquet “Battling Ray”.

Although outside the time limit, the crew was awarded a consolation prize of £A1,000, second only to the Vimy.

The DH.9 has been restored and placed on display at the Australian War Memorial at Canberra. The story is detailed in the book Flight and Adventures of Parer and McIntosh written by Emily Charnwood and first published in 1921.

The machine is labelled PD after its sponsor, millionaire Peter Dawson, a whisky manufacturer, who financed the purchase of the machine and much of the journey. Ray Parer later took part in a similar journey, the MacRobertson Trophy Air Race in 1934.

Source: Wikipedia

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 15,052 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Chinese geo-strategic expansion in the Levant: A case study of Lebanon

Chinese geo-strategic expansion in the Levant: A case study of Lebanon

As soon as the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, China and the Middle East faced a series of challenges. In recent years, China’s influence in the region has expanded due to its economic interests in energy, trade, infrastructure construction, and diplomatic contacts with the region’s countries. This is linked to President Xi […]

The Chinese Communist Party still thinks it owns the future

The Chinese Communist Party still thinks it owns the future

A rising chorus of analysts now describe China as a “peaking power”—one that might take greater risks to revise the international order before its strategic window of opportunity closes. They cite the country’s aging population , slowing economy , and hostile external environment  as evidence that time is no longer on China’s side. The “fear of decline,” they […]

Chinese maritime militia threatens order in South China Sea

Chinese maritime militia threatens order in South China Sea

Hundreds of Chinese maritime militia vessels are operating in contested areas of the South China Sea on a consistent basis, according to a new U.S. think tank report that says this poses a significant challenge to “maritime order rooted in international law.” The Washington, D.C.,-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), says that for […]

Cadence Column: Asia, November 22, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, November 22, 2021

The world is not responding well to the so-called “plandemic”. The important thing is not whether the global disease, as said by Judy Mikovits to have been developed under the supervision of Fauci, was actually intended to do all this. The public thinks it was because governments haven’t work carefully to earn public trust. Even […]

Tackling Chinese technological advantage 

Tackling Chinese technological advantage 

“China has won the artificial intelligence battle with the United States and is heading towards global dominance because of its technological advances”. When the Pentagon’s former software chief Nick Chaillan made this claim, it felt as if the whole world had come crashing down. The whole episode gave rise to the debate about who’s ahead […]

Biden and Xi move back from the brink

Biden and Xi move back from the brink

The three-and-half-hour virtual summit meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping did not, and could not, solve the fundamental problems that have driven the two great powers toward confrontation. But both men clearly wanted to challenge the misperception that they are on the brink of conflict, and to prevent an unintended escalation […]

Celebrities who disappeared in China after speaking out about the Communist Party or powerful people

Celebrities who disappeared in China after speaking out about the Communist Party  or powerful people

Peng Shuai has not been heard from since she accused a top Chinese official of sexual assault. The 35-year-old tennis player is one of China’s biggest sports stars. In a post on November 2 on Weibo, Peng alleged the former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli coerced her into sex and that they had an affair. Afterward, the post was taken […]

China’s ‘leftover women’ using their financial power to fight stigma

China’s ‘leftover women’ using their financial power to fight stigma

In China, if you are female, educated and unmarried by the age of 27, people might use a particular term – “sheng-nu” – to describe your social status. It translates simply as “leftover woman.” The label was deliberately invented to curb the rising number of single women in a traditional society that sometimes views not […]

Health workers in China are killing pets while their owners are in quarantine

Health workers in China are killing pets while their owners are in quarantine

Local health workers in some Chinese cities are breaking into people’s homes and killing their pets while the owners are in quarantine, prompting outrage online. In one case, a dog owner named Ms Fu witnessed through her home security camera as people clothed in hazmat suits entered her home and beat her pet corgi to […]

Xi Jinping’s Terrifying New China

Xi Jinping’s Terrifying New China

China’s social media was briefly aflutter this fall about an impressive feat in the popular online fantasy game Honor of Kings. A player had completed a “pentakill,” or five kills in a row, but something just smelled wrong: The user in question was 60 years old, according to the verified account information—hardly the type to […]

%d bloggers like this: