Forging The Nation - Towards the Future

England to Australia by air

Just ten years after the tentative first powered flight in Australia, a hop of 400 metres, a twin-engined Vickers Vimy biplane, which had taken off in England, landed at Darwin.

In 1919 the Australian government offered a £10,000 prize for the first Australian to fly from England to Australia. There were some very experienced former war pilots willing to try. The prize was won by the brothers Keith and Ross Smith, and their mechanics Jim Bennett and Wally Shiers.

Four other aircraft taking part in the race crashed, while a sixth machine, flown by Ray Parer and John McIntosh, took off after the race had already been won; they took seven months to reach Australia.

"'Ere, Bill, his engine's gone bung. Go and get that fencin' wire off the plough, and I'll fix it for him."
From The Bulletin 21 August 1919, pg 20. By permission of National Library of Australia.

AWM 106074Members of the crew stand in front of the aircraft which was the first flight to be completed from England to Australia 1919 in the Vickers Vimy commercial type twin engined machine. Identified personnel are: Sir Keith Smith and Sir Ross Smith.
AWM 106074