A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

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England - Australia Australia - England

England-Australia, 1919.—Capt. Ross Smith and Lt. K. M. Smith, with Sergeants. W. H. Shiers and J. M. Bennett, on a Vickers "Vimy" biplane (two 350 h.p. Rolls-Royce "Eagle VIII").

Left Hounslow November 12 (9.10 a.m. G.M.T. Arrived Port Darwin December 10 (5 a.m. G.M.T.).

Time 4 weeks 2 days. Distance 11,294 miles.

England-Australia. 1920.—Lt R Parer and Lt. J. Mclntosh on a D.H.9 biplane.

Left Hounslow January 9. Arrived Port Darwin August 2. 

Ray Parer and John Cowie Macintosh persuaded Scottish millionaire distiller Peter Dawson to give them the money for an aeroplane, but only dared ask enough for an F.E.2b (although they would have preferred a DH.9). When Mr Dawson heard this, he scolded them and gave them another cheque. Battling their way through delays, innumerable forced landings and hair-raising exploits, they finally arrived nearly 8 months later, skint and with empty fuel tanks, only the second crew ever to make the journey. They missed out on the £10,000 prize for the first flight in under 30 days, but were given £1,000 as a consolation.

England-Australia, 1926.—Sir Alan Cobham and A. B. Elliott on a D.H.50J biplane seaplane (385 h.p. Armstrong Siddeley "Jaguar").

Left Rochester June 30. Arrived Port Darwin August 5. Time 5 weeks.

At Basra Elliott was fatally shot by an Arab. Flight continued with Sergt. Ward, R.A.F.

At Darwin wheels were fitted and machine flown to Melbourne and back.


Australia-England, 1926.—Sir Alan Cobham, Sergt. Ward and C. S. Capel. Return flight.

Left Darwin September 4. Arrived Thames, Westminster, October 1.

Time 3 weeks 6 days. Total 28,000 miles in 78 days.

England-Australia, 1927-28.—Capt. William Newton ('Bill') Lancaster and Mrs. Keith ('Chubbie') Miller, on an Avro "Avian" (32 h.p. "Cirrus ").

Left Croydon October 14. Crashed Muntok, D. East Indies, January 10, 1928.

Resumed flight March 12, 1928. Arrived Port Darwin March 19, 1928.

Bill Lancaster was killed in April 1933, flying Kingsford Smith's Avian  'Southern Cross Minor' VH-UQG after a forced landing in the Sahara; the  aeroplane, and his mummified remains, were only discovered 29 years later. He had kept a diary of the 8 days following the crash. The aircraft remains are now on display in Australia.
 lancaster miller 1927

England-Australia (solo), 1928.-—Sqn Ldr Bert Hinkler on an Avro "Avian" (30-80 h.p. "Cirrus").

Left Croydon February 7 (0.48 a.m.). Arrived Port Darwin February 22 (6 a.m.).

Time 15 days. Distance 11,000 miles. Record.

England-Australia, 1929.—Fit. Lt. S. James Moir and P/O. Harold C. Owen (both RAAF) on G-EBYX, a Vickers " Vellore" (460 h.p. Armstrong- Siddeley "Jaguar").

Left Brooklands March 18. Arrived Cape Don Lighthouse, N. Australia, May 26.

Moir and Owen either mistook the Cape Don lighthouse for Port Darwin, or were forced down by engine failure, and landed there in the dark on May 18th with shark-filled seas on one side and crocodile-infested lagoons on the other. They then lived at the lighthouse until they were found on May 26th.


They had also had a bit of an incident in Egypt on March 23rd, making a forced landing at Mersa Matruh, about 160 miles west of Alexandria.

Here is Owen (I think) examining some broken bits, and a view of the machine at a somewhat unconventional attitude.

However, "A new wing and undercarriage  were sent out to North Africa, and the machine was  transported to Cairo. On May 1 it left Cairo."



Owen and Moir




Australia-England, 1929.—Sqd. Ldr. C. E. Kingsford-Smith, C. T. P. Ulm, T. McWilliams and H. A. Litchfield, on a Fokker monoplane Southern Cross (three Wright " Whirlwind").

Left Sydney June 25. Arrived Croydon July 10.

12,000 miles in 12 days 14 hr. 18 min.. (Ex. Derby.) Record.

England-Australia (solo), 1929-30.—Francis C. Chichester on a D.H. "Moth" ("Gipsy").

Left Croydon December 20. Arrived Port Darwin January 25 (or 27).

Time 5 weeks.

The "bespectacled, adventurous, somewhat gauche but determined young man" was suprised by the fame the flight brought him. "I was only trying to achieve a private target which I had set myself"

England-Australia, 1930.—F/O Harold L. Piper and F/O C Kay on a Desoutter monoplane ("Cirrus Hermes").

Left Croydon February 9. Arrived Port Darwin March 23.

Time 7 weeks.

England-Australia (solo), 1930.—Amy Johnson on "Jason", a D.H. "Moth" ("Gipsy").

Left Croydon May 5. Arrived Port Darwin May 24.

9,900 miles in 19 days.

Amy's first long-distance flight (she had gained her RAeC certificate only the previous June, and hadn't flown more than 200 miles before this). She bought a second-hand Moth from Wally Hope, painted it green and called it "Jason".

She crashed a few times on the way - mostly because her landings were "often atrocious", but became the world's heroine.

Amy was 'a slight young woman with heavily lidded eyes, dentured teeth, a shy smile and a soft Yorkshire accent' [which later became a rather fake upper-class BBC one].

England- Australia (solo) 1930.—Capt F R Matthews on a D.H. " Puss Moth " ("Gipsy III").

Left Croydon September 16. Arrived Port Darwin October 18.

Time 4 weeks 4 days.


England-Australia (solo), 1930

Flt Lt Cedrick Waters Hill, from RAF Henlow, on a D.H. "Moth" ("Gipsy").

Left Lympne October 5. Crashed near Atamboea October 17.

Resumed flight December 9, reached Port Darwin December 10.

Time 7 weeks 5 days.

His Gypsy Moth, G-ABEN, was sold in Australia the following March and became VH-UPV; Mrs Lores Bonney then used it to make a solo Australia-England flight 10.4.33-21.6.33.

England-Australia (solo), 1930.—Wing Cmdr C. E. Kingsford-Smith on an Avro "Avian Sports" ("Gipsy II" ) , Southern Cross Junior.

Left Heston October 9. Arrived Port Darwin October 19.

10,000 miles in 9 days 21 hr. 40 min. Record.

England-Australia (solo), 1930.—Oscar Garden on a D.H. "Moth" ("Gipsy"), Kia Ora.

Left Lympne October 17. Arrived Wyndham November 4.

Time 18 days.

Australia-England (solo), 1931.—C.W.A. Scott on a D.H. "Moth" ("Gipsy II").

Left Wyndham May 26. Arrived Lympne June 5. Time 10 days 13 hr. Record.

Australia-England 1931 - J.A. Mollison on a D.H. Moth. July-August.

8 days 22hr 35min. Record.

England-Australia (solo), 1931.- C A Butler, on a Comper "Swift" (Pobjoy).

Left Lympne Oct 31. Arrived Port Darwin Nov 9.

9 days 2hr 29min. Record.


England-Australia, 1932 (solo).-C.W.A. Scott on a D.H. Moth ("Gypsy II").

Left Lympne April 19. Reached Port Darwin April 28. 8 days 20hr 47 min. Record.

England-Australia 1933 (solo).-C.E. Kingsford-Smith on a Percival Gull ("Gipsy Major").

Left Lympne Oct 4. Reached Wyndham Oct 11.

7 days 4hr 44min. Record.

C. T. P Ulm, G. Allen, and P. Taylor (Avro " Ten " ) : Harmondsworth to Derby (Australia)

6 days 17 hr. 45 min. Record.


England-Australia (solo) -Jean Batten.

Left Lympne May 9th. Arrived Darwin 24th May 1934.

14 days 23hr 25min. Record.

Jean had tried the journey the previous April, but had crashed (twice) near Karachi, the second time writing off the aeroplane.

On her second attempt in April 1934, she also had a forced landing near Rome (escaping with a cut lip, and shock), and returned to England.

Australia-England 1934.-Bernard Rubin and Ken Waller in a D.H. Leopard Moth.

April. 8 days 12hr. Record

England-Australia 1934.-C.W.A. Scott and T Campbell Black. Record.

Australia-England 1934.-O. Cathcart Jones and K.F.H. Waller.

Left Melbourne 09:10 a.m. October 28. Delayed by bad weather in Athens. Arrived Lympne 1:12 p.m. 2 November.

6 days 16hr 10min. Record.

Owen said "We have averaged 10 hours flying every day, and covered approximately 2,200 miles a day. We wanted to make this flight back not so much as a speed flight, but as a flight which could be copied for commercial purposes"

Australia-England (solo) 1935.-H.L. Brook in a Miles Falcon.


7 days 19hr 50min. Record.

Harold "I'm not a 38 year old accountant" Brook explains to a less-than-fascinated audience that "Flying to Australia is not the er, terrible thing that um, a lot of people seem to, seem to suppose it is, although it naturally requires a good deal of careful preparation and, erm, or-organisation. This is, this is um, this is the machine I used in, in the air race but unfortunately we didn't um... we didn't um..." [zzzz]



 Australia-England 1935 (solo).-Jean Batten. April. 17 days 16hr 15min. Record.
England-Australia 1935.-H F Broadbent. 6days 21hrs 19min. Record.  
England-Australia 1936.-Jean Batten. 5 days 21hrs 3min. Record.  

Australia-England 1937 (solo)

H F 'Jim' Broadbent in a D.H. Leopard Moth.


6 days 8hrs 25min.Record.

Australia-England 1937 (solo).-Jean Batten in a Percival Gull.


5 days 13hr 15min. Record.
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