Royal Aero Club - Blog

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England To Australia Air Race 1919
Nearly a century ago, in 1919, the Smith brothers – with Ross as pilot and Keith as navigator – pulled off an achievement some say was every bit as momentous in its day as man landing on the moon, when they became the first Australians in history to fly a route from England to Australia. Captain Sir Ross Macpherson Smith KBE, MC and Bar, DFC and Two Bars, AFC, and his brother, Lieutenant Sir Keith Macpherson Smith KBE, arrived at Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia on 10 December 1919, aboard a Vickers Vimy. Also aboard were Sergeant Jim Bennett and Sergeant Wally Shiers as mechanics. The four had departed Hounslow Heath Aerodrome, London, England, on 12 November 1919, in response to the offer of a £10,000 prize by the government of Australia to the first Australian airmen to fly from England to Australia aboard a British airplane. The Smiths’ airplane, a Vickers F.B.27A Vimy IV, registration G-EAOU, was built for the Royal Air Force, and given serial number F8630. Vickers modified it for the flight to Australia, adding additional fuel tanks. Vickers gave the Vimy IV bomber to the Australian government. G-EAOU is now on display at Adelaide Airport, Adelaide, South Australia. As one of the two remaining original Vickers Vimy aircraft in the world, the plane at Adelaide Airport is an aviation artefact of national and global significance. The only other surviving Vimy was the first plane flown non-stop across the Atlantic by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown earlier in 1919. It has been a centrepiece of London's Science Museum ever since. The Royal Aero Club Trust includes in its Collection, significant archives about the England to Australia air race, which it has been pleased to make available for recent research, the results of which can be viewed at together with a related podcast. It may be necessary to copy and paste the link into your browser.