7 January 2020

Centenary transcontinental group flight March 8-22, 2020:

The final itinerary

Smith Flight Celebration Group, Aviation Historical Society of Australia (NSW)

best full logo smallAviation Historical Society of Australia (NSW) inc
Smith Centenary Celebration Group

Some ‘small print’:

AHSA is only the communications hub for this exercise and accepts no responsibility for incidents however caused.  All participants take part at their own responsibility and cost.

There will be a flight coordinator who will ask participants in each leg to meet before take-off so as to cooperatively discuss matters of timing and safety. Pilots will receive a comprehensive flight handbook by early February.

Most landing places are planning some form of recognition of the event, even if only by simply nominating a place for evening meal where aviators and interested locals may meet. Other assistance and general participation will be welcomed: the whole essence of this exercise is mutual cooperation. We stress again that people taking part act on their own responsibility.

Tom Lockley, Secretary
ahsanswsmithflight@gmail.com , 0403 615 134

This is the online version of a 12-page a5 booklet giving the final itinerary of the Darwin-Adelaide transcontinental flight of 8-22 March 2020. For more information  email ahsanswsmithflight@gmail.com ,  visit https://www.ahsansw.com/ or phone 0403 65 134.

Please, if you are thinking of taking part in the whole journey, contact ahsanswsmithflight@gmail.com as soon as possible. Aircraft are very welcome to join for only part of the journey, notably for the final weekend in Adelaide.  No binding promises need to be made, but your early expression of interest will be very helpful. By early February a pilot’s handbook will be available. We need to be able to advise participating en route stops of numbers by early March, but it is to everyone’s advantage to advise your intentions as soon as possible Thank you for your interest!

 Booklet published by Aviation Historical Society of Australia (NSW) inc Smith Centenary Celebration Group PO Box 301, Pyrmont NSW Australia 2009
 Second printing January 2020
ISBN 978-1-64204-280-1

About the March flight:

This is a unique event. It depends on co-operation among many groups, and this participation is entirely voluntary. Everyone involved – aviators and people at stopping places – are motivated by their love of aircraft and flight and their desire to recognise the history and heritage of the Smith flight – and to have fun!

The purpose of this small booklet is to give the general idea of the event with a view to gaining publicity. A detailed pilot handbook is being prepared for February 1.

Especially, we are asking people interested in participating to indicate their intentions – either to fly the whole flight or separate sections – as soon as possible. This will be to mutual advantage: for example we are preparing a booking sheet for accommodation, and early responses will ensure you have no problems in this regard.

In comparison with other events of this type, it is being run on a ridiculously small budget. $2000 from Dick Smith, and a similar amount from private donors, is the total budget, but there is also a lot of ‘in kind’ help such as the generous donation of printing by MGS Group. We can do a lot with very little money, but donations will be appreciated, acknowledged and used well.

Ideally, we are seeking a sponsor for say an eight-passenger aircraft to fly the whole distance. It could carry support people and ideally a TV crew and this would ensure great publicity. It would be great marketing for the donor, and we would be happy to negotiate such things as naming rights.

But mainly, keep up the interest, enthusiasm and desire to help and spread the word to your friends and acquaintances.

The itinerary: Darwin to Adelaide, 8 March to 23 March 2020

The itinerary is designed to suit aircraft cruising at 100+ knots but we certainly welcome slower aircraft. These may wish to start early, take short cuts, use non-flying days or take other measures as they see fit.

As well as accommodating aircraft of varying speeds, he itinerary will need to be flexible in other regards. We will have to fit in with airline and other activities at airports and en route, and of course the weather may affect the event at the time.

During the event, the current position as regards timing etc will be constantly updated will be immediately reported online.

The paramount consideration is safety, and necessary delays are a relatively low-level concern.

Part of the wonderful new display at Darwin Aviation Museum

Day 1, Sunday 8 March: Darwin to Daly Waters (distance 283 NM); en route optional stop at Katherine. Departure from Darwin Air Museum.

Day 2, Monday 9 March: Full route 555 NM.  Daly Waters to Cloncurry stopping en route at Anthony Lagoon, Brunette Downs and Avon Downs. These were significant Smith overnight stops: this first part of the journey took a week, being delayed for three days by having to make improvised repairs to a broken propeller. They were out of contact for most of this time, causing considerable concern.

This is a long stage. We expect to take-off by 0800 at the latest. Possible alternatives for slow aircraft are available. An option may be for some aircraft to stay overnight at Brunette Downs.

Repairing the broken propeller near Warlock Ponds, 14-17 December 1919. The propeller, which had previously been damaged by bird strike at Calcutta, disintegrated.

 In a magnificent feat of improvisation, Jim Bennett repaired it with parts of a packing case, glue and a strip of galvanised Iron.

 Day 3, Tuesday 10 March: 276 NM: Cloncurry to Longreach and visit to QANTAS Founders Museum – dinner with Longreach people in the museum. This short stage will allow for extra activities at Cloncurry or Longreach.

Day 4, Wednesday 11 March: 235 NM: Longreach to Charleville: wide choice of activities for any spare time. At Charleville the Vimy suffered a catastrophic engine failure, and the engine was sent to Ipswich Railway Workshops who performed an amazing repair job, taking 51 days.

Day 5, Thursday 12 March: 368 NM: Charleville to Caboolture, the home of The Australian Vintage Aircraft Society (TAVAS). Among their prize exhibits is a replica of the Bristol Fighter that Ross Smith flew during the war in the Middle East.

Day 6, Friday 13 March: day at Caboolture. The Smith flight did not pass through Brisbane, but during the 51 days taken by the repairs the crew often visited Brisbane and nearby areas. There is a range of possible activities for this day, and TAVAS are keen to welcome us.

Image result for tavas caboolture

TAVAS WWI collection

Day 7, Saturday 14 March: 637 NM (including optional landing at Bourke) Caboolture to Narromine.  Both places were major stops in the Smith flight across Australia, and both are keen to welcome the flight.

Slower aircraft may need to take alternative routes or depart earlier. There are many viable alternatives.

Image result for narromine aviation museumDay 8, Sunday 15 March: event at Narromine. Narromine (above) has a great aviation museum, a feature of which is a magnificent replica of the Wright Flyer.

Day 9, Monday 16 March:  Narromine to Shellharbour (home of the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society – formerly Wollongong airport). HARS has a magnificent collection of flying aircraft.

There will be two options:

Via Richmond RAAF: 265 NM: Some aircraft can pass through Richmond RAAF base, which had great historic importance. In 1919 it was home to the NSW State Aviation School, and the Vimy was flown here from Sydney for repairs and departed for Cootamundra on 23 February.

Via Luskintyre: 297 NM: for aircraft not qualified to land at Richmond RAAF ($20 million Public Risk insurance required).

Both streams may transit via V1 to HARS Shellharbour.

There will probably be at least three amphibian aircraft in the group at that time, and to mark the importance of flying boats in Australian aviation there may be a landing of seaplanes at Rose Bay.  Above: Michael Smith’s Sea Bear amphibian, taking part in the whole event.

Day 10, Tuesday 17 March: day at HARS,

Day 11, Wednesday 18 March, Shellharbour to Cootamundra.190 NM, staging at Temora to visit the Australian Aviation Museum.

The Cootamundra Historical Society are keen to celebrate the Smith flight and are looking forward to meeting the aviators. In 1920, the air-minded Premier of New South Wales, William Holman, hitched a ride on the Vimy from Richmond to Cootamundra, via the site of the capital city of Canberra. He later conducted his election campaign by flying around the electorate. His enterprise in this regard did not do him any good – he lost the election! But the people of Cootamundra remain keen to celebrate their part in this exciting event.

Day12, Thursday 19 March: Cootamundra to Benalla Some aircraft will land at Henty, on a private airstrip about 3km east of the township, to be welcomed by the local history group who are keen to recognise the Vimy’s forced landing at Henty on 24 February 1920.


Image result for Benalla aviation museum guillaux

At Benalla, some aircraft of the 2014 ‘Guillaux’ flight.

Benalla, which has another wonderful aviation museum, is keen to welcome the flight group. It is likely that the group will split up for the stay in Melbourne. Some might prefer to stay in Benalla and rejoin the event on Saturday, 21 March. Some aircraft from Benalla will be flying direct to Gawler via Nhill as described below.

Day 13 Friday 20 March: Benalla to Little River airstrips (aircraft flying Darwin to Adelaide) or Benalla to Lilydale (other aircraft), option to remain at Benalla.  

The aircraft flying the whole route are invited to land at private airstrips in the Little River area for a celebratory dinner.

Image result for billy hughes presenting 10.000 chequeThe Vimy’s crew stayed 25 days in Melbourne, being feted as heroes. At a ceremony on 27 February, he Prime Minister, William Morris Hughes, presented a cheque for £10,000 to the crew.

Image result for Point Cook MuseumDay 14, Saturday 21 March: (approx. 400 NM) flight to Adelaide (Gawler) staging at Nhill, another historic centre. As many aircraft as practicable will join members of the Point Cook Flying Club in a group take-off that recognises the time spent by the Vimy at Point Cook, undergoing repairs, and the eventual flight for Adelaide on 23 March 1920.

Point Cook RAAF Museum. Below: Vimy’s arrival at Adelaide


Image result for ross keith smith adelaideDay 15, Sunday 22 March: event in Adelaide, culminating in a mass gathering of aircraft at Aldinga airfield, where the aircraft will be available for public viewing. This will conclude the celebration of the transcontinental flight.

Monday 23 March is the exact anniversary of the Vimy’s arrival in Adelaide, and it may be that there will be some form of recognition of this by South Australian authorities.