Darwin to Adelaide Flight, Smith Centenary Group

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Date/Time
Date(s) - 08/03/2020 - 22/03/2020
All Day

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See the Aviation Historical Society of Australia NSW website for details.

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.

DAY ROUTE ARRIVAL DATE NM NOTES
1 Darwin to Daly Waters Sunday
8/03/20
200 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!
2 Daly Waters to Cloncurry Monday
9/03/20
555 Stops – AACo stations Anthony Lagoon, Brunette Downs and Avon Downs
3 Cloncurry to Longreach Tuesday
10/03/20
270 Evening at QANTAS Heritage Museum
4 Longreach to Charleville Wednesday
11/03/20
235 Visits to local attractions and evening meal with interested people
5 Charleville to Caboolture Thursday
12/03/20
368 Visits to local attractions and evening meal with interested people
Day 6: Friday 13/3/20: full day at Caboolture, (TAVAS Museum) various options
7 Caboolture to Narromine Saturday
14/03/20
594 Via Bourke (otherwise 444 NM),
Day 8:   Sunday 15/3/20 day at Narromine
9 Narromine to Wollongong (HARS) Monday 16/03/20 265 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
10 HARS to Cootamundra Wednesday 18/03/20 203 via Temora to visit Australian Aviation Museum
11 Cootamundra to Benalla Thursday 19/3/20 250 Henty optional stop
12 Benalla to ‘Little River’ airstrips (full journey participants) or Lilydale Friday
20/03/20
Visit to Point Cook Museum
13 Melbourne airfields to Adelaide (Gawler) Saturday 21/03/20 445 Nhill as staging point fuel etc and visit Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre
14 Adelaide 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.