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Smith Centenary Celebration Group

From Tom Lockley, secretary
PO Box 301 Pyrmont NSW 2009

0403 615 134

Darwin to Adelaide flight, March 8-22: Media Statement 26 January 2020

Between 8 and 22 March 2020 groups of light, historic and ultralight aircraft will make their way from Darwin to Adelaide. This will celebrate the centenary of the trasncontinental flight by Ross and Keith Smith, James Bennett and Walter Shiers across Australia in 1919-20, in their Vickers Vimy aircraft, 13 December 1919 to 23 March 2020.

The Smiths and their crew had flown from England to Darwin 12 November to 10 December 1919. This daring feat was sensational news world-wide, but the flight across Australia was equally important. It awakened Australia to the potential of air transport: within a year QANTAS, the second oldest continually operating airline in the world, was established, and Australia is one of the most air-minded countries in the world.

The 2020 celebration flight across Australia will be led by two ultra-modern aircraft. Michael Smith flew his Sea Bear amphibian from England to Australia in November-December last year, arriving in Darwin for the hundredth anniversary of the Vimy’s arrival. The Northern Territory Government and local aviaton enthusiasts welcomed the Sea Bear’s arrival in Darwin, and Michael is returning to take part in the celebratory flight across Australia. Michael Coates will be flying an ultralight Pipistrel aircraft that is at the cutting edge of fuel-efficient technology. A number of other aircraft will also make the whole journey.

The route chosen for the 2020 flight largely follows the route used by the Vimy, with a few additions to visit places of special interest in the history of Australian aviaton. As well as the group of aircraft making the whole journey, other aircraft are welcome to join for part of the journey. The event will culminate in a major fly-in to Adelaide airports on the weekend of 21-22 March, and it is expected that many aircraft will take part in this.

The event has been in planning for the past two years. It is a vast co-operative undertaking, with voluntary and enthusiastic involvement by all concerned. The Aviation Historical Society of Australia (NSW) has served as communications hub.

It must be realised that the light aircraft participating are particularly affected by weather conditions. The emphasis of all concerned is on safety, and it may be necessary to alter the itinerary if bad weather occurs. The AHSA NSW website will have constantly updated information, and some aircraft will have tracking devices which can be accessed by the internet. An expert meteorologist and pilot has estimated that we have better than an 80% chance of carrying out the itinerary basically as specified, and there are provisions for catch-up days if needed.

A full pilots handbook will be issued early February, but any aircraft owners and pilots who are interested in participating are advised to make contact with AHSA as soon as possible. Numbers of participants are limited in some places.

The itinerary in brief is Darwin, Emkaytee Airfield (home of the Top End Flying Club), Katherine,  Daly Waters, the AACo stations of Anthony Lagoon, Brunette Downs and Avon Downs, Cloncurry, Longreach, Charleville, Caboolture*, Bourke, Narromine*, Richmond or Luskintyre, Shellharbour*(HARS, Albion Park), Temora, Cootamundra, Benalla, Lilydale or Little River airports, Nhill, Gawler (Adelaide) and Aldinga (Adelaide) for 22 March. Weather permitting, aircraft will stop overnight at the places underlined and spend a full day, two nights, in the places marked with *. A fuller itinerary is below and a publicity booklet is available.


More information: Tom Lockley, 0403 615 134,








Darwin to Daly Waters



Lead aircraft depart Darwin 0900 and fly to Emkaytee airfield for fly-in and departure for Daly Waters. Options: stop at Katherine (Tindal RAAF), overfly Warlock Ponds (Elsey)

Alternatives for slow aircraft available: day 2 is very long!


Daly Waters to Cloncurry



Stops – AACo stations Anthony Lagoon, Brunette Downs and Avon Downs


Cloncurry to Longreach



Evening at QANTAS Heritage Museum


Longreach to Charleville



Visits to local attractions and evening meal with interested people


Charleville to Caboolture



Visits to local attractions and evening meal with interested people

Day 6: Friday 13/3/20: full day at Caboolture, (TAVAS Museum) various options


Caboolture to Narromine



Via Bourke (otherwise 444 NM),

Day 8:   Sunday 15/3/20 day at Narromine


Narromine to Wollongong (HARS)

Monday 16/03/20


Via Richmond or Luskintyre, then V1 to HARS Albion Park. Landing at Rose Bay by seaplanes if practicable

Day 10: Tuesday 17/03/20 day at Historical Aircraft Restoration Society museum etc


HARS to Cootamundra

Wednesday 18/03/20


via Temora to visit Australian Aviation Museum


Cootamundra to Benalla

Thursday 19/3/20


Henty optional stop


Benalla to ‘Little River’ airstrips (full journey participants) or Lilydale


Visit to Point Cook Museum


Melbourne airfields to Adelaide (Gawler)

Saturday 21/03/20


Nhill as staging point fuel etc and visit Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre



Sunday 22/03/20

Gawler to Aldinga fly-in to culminate flight

Day 15 Monday 23 March: Exactly 100 years since the arrival of the Smith Flight: visit to South Australian Aviation Museum and possible event eg at Adelaide airport if desired.