Friday 4 October 7.30 pm
The epic flight that shrank the world: Sir Ross Smith and the 1919 Air Race from England to Australia
Aircraft were absurdly basic in 1919: open cockpits; held together with wood and fabric; a compass for navigation. Airfields were non-existent in many parts of the world, too. Yet when Prime Minister Billy Hughes offered a £10,000 prize for the first Australians to fly from London to Darwin in under 30 days, six crews took up the challenge. Two crews died. Two others crashed out. And only one crew made it home in 30 days – after overtaking a daring Frenchman who’d threatened to steal the glory.
South Australian brothers Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith shot to global fame after landing in Darwin on 10 December 1919. A century on, South Australia is celebrating their epic flight and their Vickers Vimy plane that can still be seen at Adelaide Airport.
Lainie Anderson has been a columnist with Adelaide’s Sunday Mail for the past 11 years. In 2017 she travelled overseas on a Churchill Fellowship to gauge the significance of the flight and retrace the route of the 1919 Air Race. She has since written a novel, and is now an ambassador for the Epic Flight Centenary while also producing a TV documentary on the feat with astronaut Andy Thomas.