Ross Smith flight from London to Australia: London take-off

Ross Smith flight from London to Australia: London take-off
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This clip shows Ross and Keith Smith taking off from England as well as some in-flight images of the open cockpit and crew on their record-setting flight.

After the end of the First World War, Prime Minister ‘Billy’ Hughes announced a £10,000 prize for the first all-Australian crew to fly from England to Australia within 30 days before 31 December 1919. While six crews attempted the long flight only two completed the journey. Two crews fatally crashed and another two were forced to withdraw after damage sustained to their aircraft.

The winning crew consisted of South Australian brothers Ross (pilot) and Keith (navigator and co-pilot) Smith as well as two mechanics, James Bennett and Wally Shiers. Their two-engine Vickers Vimy, a former bomber, departed Hounslow (near London) at 9.10 am on 12 November 1919.

Taking off in wintry conditions Ross Smith quipped that the Vimy’s registration number ‘G-EAOU’ could stand for ‘God Elp All Of Us'. Along the way they battled bad weather, had a number of close shaves with mountain tops and take-offs from muddy landing fields. It took 27 days and 20 hours to fly the 18,250 km to Darwin and claim the prize. The Smith brothers were knighted while the mechanics were commissioned and awarded bars to their Air Force Medals.

The Smith brothers' Vickers Vimy IV G-EAOU is on display at Adelaide Airport.