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Blog post from Wednesday, 10 December, 2014


Rear view of plane preparing for refuelling. First England-Australia flight, Keith and Ross Smith, 1919 - Darwin, NT

Arrival of Vickers Vimy at Mascot Aerodrome, 1920 / photographed by William Kimbel

Did you know that the first flight from England to Australia took 28 days, with a total flying time of almost 136 hours?

In 1919 the Australian Government offered a $10,000 reward to the first all-Australian crew to fly from England to Australia in less than 30 days. A team of four, Ross Macpherson Smith, his brother Keith Macpherson Smith, James Mallett Bennett and Wally Shiers, were the first to complete the challenge. They left Hounslow on 12 November 1919 and arrived in Darwin on 10 December 1919.

They then flew on to Sydney, a journey that took longer than their journey from England to Darwin. First their propeller split, forcing a three day delay for repairs, and then their port engine exploded in mid-air. The repairs this time took 50 days. They finally arrived in Sydney on 14 February 1920 and were greeted by a large crowd at Mascot.

Find out more about their journey and explore more photographs and maps from our collections.

The crew in their Vickers Vimy arrived in Darwin on this day in 1919.