AVIATION

Charles Kingsford Smith
Australia Crest

Pioneer aviator affectionately known as 'Smithy', born in Victoria on the 9th February, 1897. An Australian ICON in the class of Phar Lap or Don Bradman.

Charles Kingsford Smith
Charles Kingsford Smith


Smithy served in World War 1 and later founded an interstate flying service.

In June 1927, Smithy and Charles Ulm flew around Australia in 10 days 5.5 hours, halving the previous record.

Charles Ulm
Charles Ulm


Smithy and co-pilot Ulm, who couldn't actually fly a plane at the time, crossed the Pacific Ocean in 1928. Accompanied by navigator Harry Lyon and wireless operator James Warner they landed the blue hulled Southern Cross on June 10th in Sydney to be met by a throng of 300,000 people, including the Governor-General and State Governor. They had achieved the historic flight the day before, landing to be met by 25,000 cheering fans at Brisbane's Eagle Farm Airport. The flight begun in Oakland, California, with the first stage of 3,840 km to Hawaii. This stage took 27 hours and 27 minutes and was uneventful. Stage two was to Fiji, some 5,020 km away. Almost immediately they ran into a storm which Smithy fought to the point of exhaustion before handing the controls to the yet unlicenced Ulm. Luckily, they reached Suva some 33 hours later, and then on to Brisbane and the realisation that trans-Pacific commercial flight was possible.

After being feted in Sydney, Smithy and Ulm carried on to England and then across the Atlantic and America to Oakland and the first around-the-world flight.

In 1929 (27?), Smithy, Charles Ulm and two others disappeared whilst flying Southern Cross over the Kimberley. They were saved this time, but only after a harrowing 10 days and close to starvation. The only provisions they had were coffee and brandy. Search aircraft, the Kookaburra, which had disappeared was later found with the bodies of Keith Anderson and H. Hitchcock. The two men had died of thirst.

Kingsford Smith - Southern Cross
Kingsford Smith - Southern Cross


Ulm later disappeared over the Pacific, never to be found.

Charles Kingsford Smith was knighted in 1932 for services to aviation.

In a biography by Ian Mackersley, the author says that while Smithy was a man of undeniable charm and generosity, he was also unreliable, a drunkard, couldn't be trusted with money, a womaniser and a less than competent aviator. Mackersley is a Kiwi, say no more! Mackersley also says that Smithy had a pathological fear of flying over water, which may have brought about his disappearance off the Burmese coast in 1935. The author relates this fear to an incident at Bondi Beach when a 10 year old Kingsford Smith almost drowned.

Smithy was only 38 when he disappeared on November 7th, 1935 on a flight to Australia from U.K..

The Sydney suburb of Kingsford, near the airport, is named for him, as is the Sydney international airport.


Copyright © Dinkum Aussies 1999 All Rights Reserved,
feedback to Webmaster