…talked to members about an inaugural flight by Charles Kingsford-Smith
At a car boot sale in England for the princely sum of ten pounds Nigel purchased an original black and white film depicting the first flight across the Pacific Ocean by Charles Kingsford-Smith in the “Southern Cross” in 1928.
Nigel spoke about and played the film which ran for approximately 25 minutes. It was shot partially on the ground and partially on board the plane during the historical and dangerous flight. Accompanied by an Australian and two Americans who performed the roles of co-pilot, engineer and navigator, Charles Kingsford-Smith flew from San Francisco to Hawaii then to Fiji, Brisbane and eventually Sydney where a crowd of approximately 200,000 people welcomed them as heroes.
Although Australia took most of the credit the flight was predominately backed by an American company. It took nine days to get to Brisbane.
The Southern Cross was the first aircraft that the Fijian people had ever seen and as there were no landing strips the plane landed on Albert Park in Suva and, laden with fuel, had to take off from a beach. The Fijians called the crew “men birds” and treated them as heroes. The worst conditions were experienced flying through tropical storms between Fiji and Brisbane. Despite having shared such an historical achievement the crew never saw each other again after the flight.
Our thanks to Nigel for a fascinating presentation.