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					  Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
     Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Was The Greatest Aviator That Ever Lived

Amongst his many achievements he made the first non-stop flight across Australia, the first
flights across the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, and was the first to circumnavigate
the globe by crossing the equator. His pioneering efforts to forge commercial aviation
routes around the world enabled the birth of the commercial aviation industry and
changed the concept of transport, communications and distance forever.
In this section you will find a comprehensive history relating to the life of Sir Charles
Kingsford Smith and his talented co-pilot, Tommy Pethybridge. You will also find fascinating
insight into his dream plane, the most stunning aircraft of the day ever to be built, the
Lady Southern Cross.



Early Years
Charles Edward Kingsford Smith was born in
Hamilton in Brisbane, Australia, on February 9, 1897.
The youngest of seven children, his parents William
Charles Smith and Catherine Mary (née Kingsford)
passed down a lust for adventure early in life. At a
time when long distance travel was arduous and
often dangerous, the Smith family set off on a great
adventure to relocate from sunny Queensland to
wintry Vancouver in Canada. They would remain
there until their return to Australia in 1910.
Known as “Chilla” to family and friends, and later as
“Smithy” to his fans, Charles was an energetic boy who
loved adventure and would do anything for a dare. His
first close brush with death and local fame also came                             early, at
the tender age of 13. Charles found himself caught in                the big surf and strong
tide of Australia’s most famous beach, Bondi. Luckily, Bondi Surf Club had introduced a
world-first that year- Lifesavers. They were able to save the young adventurer from certain
drowning and the rescue made the daily newspapers.
Charles was a hands-on lad. That same year he began studying
mechanics and electrical engineering at Sydney Technical
College, graduating as an Electrical Engineer at age 16.
However his engineering career was to be short-lived. The
Great War would change the course of history for many
young men and Charles- then an apprentice with the
Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) in Queensland-
was one of many eager to do his bit. These young Anzacs
had a determination to fight for King and Country and felt
a deep-seated responsibility to protect freedom. It would
also give them the opportunity to undertake what was
seen as a romantic adventure on foreign soil.


The Great War
In 1915, on the day of his 18th birthday, Charles enrolled in the Australian
Military Forces with the 4th Signal Troop, 2nd Division Signal Company and was soon
serving as a signaller and dispatch rider in Gallipoli, Egypt and finally France. It was
here that he would first come into contact with the wonder and power of flight. In 1916
aeroplanes were very new inventions. They were made from fabric, wire and timber, with
shaky safety standards and a terribly low survival rate for those who dared fly them. At the
time Britain’s Royal Flying Corps urgently needed pilots, and Charles quickly volunteered
to train as a fighter pilot. He was one of only one hundred and fifty Diggers in the AIF who
were chosen for this special course. Flying was something Charles loved from the very first
moment, as detailed in his letters home to his family.
Earning his wings after rigorous training in rural England, Charles went on to join No. 23
Squadron of the RFC on the Western Front as a Flying Officer in July 1917. He was soon in
the thick of battle. It was during this time that he truly showed those around him that he
was no ordinary airman. During his first month of active flying duty, Smithy had brought
down four flying machines in ferocious aerial combat. He had caused significant damage
to German strongholds, attacking ground targets, other hostile aircraft, weather and
reconnaissance balloons. Then on 14th August 1917, he was hit during combat with a
German Spad two-seater on a dawn patrol. He lost consciousness but regained it just in
time to survive. However his foot was badly shattered. Some of his toes and a portion of
his foot had to be amputated and Charles would never fly again in the war.
His injuries did not hinder his determination to continue a career as an Airman. Following
his recuperation, in 1918 Charles was assigned to instructor duties at 204 TDS, RAF,
Eastchurch and attained the rank of Acting Captain. For his ‘conspicuous gallantry and
devotion to duty’, he was further awarded the prestigious Military Cross by King George at
Buckingham Palace. At only 20 years of age Charles Kingsford Smith was a war hero.

Post War Initiatives
In those days the limitless civilian
applications of aviation – aiding
transport, travel and communication-
had not been tested at all. Employment
for a pilot after the war was limited to
performing at aerial circuses in the UK,
USA and in Australia. Charles supported
himself this way from 1919 to 1927,
establishing a number of partnerships
with fellow airmen along the way. He
even took on the dangerous occupation
of stunt pilot (Barnstormer) in Hollywood,
until the death of a fellow stuntman
(Derek Shepperson) persuaded Charles
to quit.

Throughout this period the ever-ambitious
Charles aimed for the stars. He wanted to begin a commercial aviation service within
Australia. He also saw the potential to establish cross-oceanic flight paths and win the
prize monies associated with the pioneering of them (through the popular international
air races of the day). In doing so he aimed to prove the validity of intercontinental
commercial and passenger flight for the not-too-distant future.
Forming the ‘Diggers’ Aviation Company, Charles began his pioneering work. Firstly he
established the first airmail service routes in Australia. These long haul journeys around
Australia enabled him to fine-tune his plan to fly across the Pacific, a dream he’d held
since quitting the war. An important new partnership in 1924 with aviator Keith Anderson
helped Charles further his plans. Through a trucking venture in remote Western Australia
(the Gascoyne Transport Company) the pair raised enough capital to buy two Bristol
Tourers planes.
In 1927 the pair returned to Sydney to partner with another great hero of Australian
Aviation history, Charles Ulm. As men of similar skill and
ambition, their joint venture operated
as ‘Interstate Flying Services’ and
proved a winner. After operating
successfully on several routes, the
Interstate Flying Services tendered
unsuccessfully for an Adelaide-Perth
mail service and launched a series
of well-publicised and important
demonstration flights to state their
case.


Record Breaking Flights
Smithy (as he was tagged) and
Anderson entered the public eye in
January 1927 with their Perth to Sydney
flight carrying two journalist passengers.    Then Smithy hit the headlines again in June
1927, when he and Charles Ulm completed a round-Australia circuit in just 10 days, 5
hours. This was a record-breaking flight and a great pioneering achievement, particularly
given the rudimentary and minimal navigational aids of the day. Smithy quickly set out to
seek additional financial support for his trans-Pacific flight and with the new found fame
was able to secure a grant of £9000 from the New South Wales Labour government. Two
other sponsors helped complete the deal; the retail pioneer and dynasty founder Sidney
Myer, and G. Allan Hancock, a Californian oil magnate.

In 1927 the trio travelled to the United States to purchase and prepare a Fokker Trimotor
aircraft that Smithy named the Southern Cross, with the express intention of crossing the
Pacific by air from the USA to Australia. At that time airmen had only managed to fly
between the USA and Hawaii, and that too with great difficulty! The Pacific flight path had
never been attempted and was considered certain suicide. Despite this – and despite
their attempt being supported by no Government or official body of the day- Smithy, Ulm
and two Americans (Harry Lyon and Jim Warner) took off from Oakland, California on May
31st, 1928. They arrived in Brisbane via Honolulu and Fiji on June 9th, having successfully
completed the dangerous journey in 83 hours, 38 minutes of flying time. For the first time,
man had managed to bridge the gap between America and Australia by air!
                                                      US President Calvin Coolidge wired
                                                      a message to Kingsford Smith saying
                                                      Hearty congratulations to you and
                                                      your companions on successful flight
                                                      Oakland to Australia. Your brilliant
                                                      and courageous pioneering has
                                                      advanced the cause of aviation and
                                                      strengthened bonds between your
                                                      commonwealth and our country.”
                                                      Allan Hancock- who had purchased
                                                     the Southern Cross for the team- also
                                                     wired the team. As reward for their
                                                     phenomenal achievements he also
                                                     waived the money he had put up to
                                                     finance the trip and gifted the Southern
                                                     Cross to Smithy and Charles Ulm.

                                                      In succeeding months Smithy broke
                                                      further records in the now famous
                                                      Southern Cross. In August he flew from
Point Cook, Victoria direct to Perth. This was the first non-stop flight across the Australian
Continent. In September, with Ulm as co pilot and an Australian crew, he piloted the
Southern Cross from Sydney to Christchurch, New Zealand. With this first flight across the
Tasman Sea he permanently established the feasibility of regular passenger and mail
services to and from New Zealand.
Smithy then set out for England in the Southern Cross with Ulm. The aim was to secure a
new fleet and establish the first domestic air service in Australia. However, on 1 April 1929,
after losing radio contact with ground support amidst bad weather over the remote
northwest of Australia, they were forced to land on the inhospitable flats of the Glenelg
River estuary.

A huge national search commenced. The papers of the day sold millions of copies
covering the search for 12 long days. Rumour and speculation abounded surrounding the
disappearance. Before help could reach the stranded party, tragedy struck elsewhere.
On 13 April Keith Anderson and Robert Hitchcock set out to find their missing friends, only
to perish when their own plane crashed during the search. On being rescued, Smithy
and Ulm were faced with the charge of being a public nuisance for having staged the
incident for publicity. Though they were acquitted the smear campaign took a lifetime to
overcome.
With much less fan fare and after an
appropriate delay, the tumultuous flight
to England was resumed in June and
completed in the record time of 12
days, 18 hours. Then Smithy completed
a round-the-world flight. On a roll, he
competed in an England to Australia
air race, flying solo, and won the event.
Meanwhile, he successfully launched
the domestic airline, Australian National
Airways, in January 1930. At 34, Smithy
was an international celebrity and well
on his way to realising those seemingly
impossible dreams.

Smithy’s personal life also blossomed
during this time. He married Mary
Powell of Melbourne on December
10, 1930, a young lady whom he
had met on the cruise ship Aorangi
from Vancouver to Australia the
year before. Recognised as a true
national treasure, Smithy was knighted
for his services to aviation in the
Commonwealth of Australia on June 3,
1932. His only child, Charles Arthur, was
born soon after on December 22, 1932
in Woollahra, Sydney.



The Final Years
Smithy’s dreams for aviation were
boundless. He saw no barriers to making these
visions a practical reality, but unfortunately his luck was about to take a turn. On March
21st 1931, during a routine flight from Sydney to Melbourne, a plane in his fleet was lost in
severe winter storms over the Snowy Mountains. The pilot, co-pilot and all six passengers
on the Southern Cloud perished. This crash and loss of life was a psychological blow to
Smithy and a shock to the public’s perception of air safety. The Southern Cloud disaster
and the deepening Depression crippled Smithy’s fledgling airline. A further hindrance
occurred with the “coffee royal” incident, when another of Smithy’s planes, The Southern
Cross Minor, was damaged in Malaya whilst under contract to fly the Christmas mail to
England. Smithy took off in another plane to collect the stranded mail, flew it to England
in time for Christmas delivery, and returned with mail for Australia. Again it was dubbed a
publicity stunt and further undermined his reputation.

In 1933 Smithy used Seven Mile Beach as the runway and departure point for the first
commercial flight between Australia and New Zealand. That flight to New Zealand added
some credibility but still failed to persuade the New Zealand government to give him a
charter for passenger and mail services between Auckland and Singapore. That year he
established a flying training school in Sydney, Kingsford Smith Air Service but it wasn’t to
prosper.
Times were tough financially and the announcement of a London to Melbourne air race,
sponsored by Sir Macpherson Robertson for Victoria’s centenary celebrations, promised
an attractive prize of £10,000. With the help of friends and sponsors, Smithy ordered a
customised two-seater Lockheed Altair especially for the race, which he named Anzac.
P.G. Taylor committed to be his co-pilot. Unfortunately important modifications to the
Altair could not be completed in time for the race. The name also caused controversy,
prompting him to change it to Lady Southern Cross in honour of his wife. In order to sell the
expensive plane and reimburse his creditors, Smithy made the first west to east crossing
of the Pacific in the single engine Lockheed Altair Lady Southern Cross in October 1934.
He did it in just 52 hours. Both Hitler and Mussolini congratulated him for his stunning
achievement.



    “Smithy is a national treasure worth revering. He
  optimised all that is expected from early 20th Century
    Australian men – toughness, versatility, a mate, a
     digger… a cobber, a good bloke and an ANZAC.”
Leaving the Altair there to attract an American purchaser, Smithy and P.G. Taylor returned
to Australia for the long-awaited authorisation of a trans-Tasman airmail service. They
began the inaugural flight on 15 May, 1935, but the ventured was doomed to fail. Some
800 km out over the Tasman, a damaged propeller blade put one of the three motors out
of action. The second motor threatened to do the same as it rapidly burned through oil.
In a feat of pure heroism, Taylor climbed out of the cockpit and succeeded in collecting
enough oil from the dead motor to replenish the other. The cargo was necessarily
dumped along with the mailbags, and Smithy directed the Southern Cross back to
Sydney.

Despite his ill luck Smithy was not beaten. Determined to prove to the world that the
future of transport was in aviation, he arranged for the still unsold Lady Southern Cross to
be shipped to England for another record-breaking attempt. Aiming once again to break
the England to Australia flight record, on 6 November 1935 Smithy took off from Lympne,
England with his co- pilot, fellow Australian Tommy Pethybridge. Unfortunately they never
made it home. The Lockheed Altair disappeared over the Andaman Sea in the early
hours of November 8th, 1935 on route to Singapore. It’s disappearance remains one of
the last great unsolved aviation mysteries.

Smithy’s legacy, however, continues on to the present day. He was featured on the
original Australian paper $20 note. Sydney’s international airport is named after the great
aviator and there is a memorial to himself, Taylor and Ulm at Anderson Park in Sydney. The
Southern Cross is still on view at Brisbane airport. Charles Kingsford Smith was also author of
The Old Bus (1932) and Story of ‘Southern Cross’ Trans-Pacific Flight (1928, co written with
Charles Ulm). His autobiography My Flying Life was published posthumously in 1937 and
the story of his life was filmed in Australia in 1946.
      To honour the 75th Anniversary of the final flight of the Lady Southern Cross by Sir Charles Kingsford
      Smith and his co-pilot John Thompson “Tommy” Pethybridge, History Maker International presents the
      Commemorative Release and announces the Commemorative Flight of the replica History Maker Lady
      Southern Cross.

      The Commemorative Flight from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) to Melbourne, will be piloted by
      Charles Arthur Kingsford Smith, the only son of the world famous Aviator. This undertaking will complete his
      father’s flight 75 years on, and attempt to recapture the England to Australia speed record of the day back
      from the British. In doing so it will be an historic flight in it’s own right.

      Become a History Maker. Follow the construction of the replica History Maker Lady Southern Cross Lockheed
      Altair 8D Special and its Commemorative Flight by Charles Arthur Kingsford Smith, and be a part of history.

      The Commemorative Flight Book will carry the names of those who have become History Makers, and will
      journey with Charles Arthur Kingsford Smith on his historic flight. The Commemorative Flight Book will then be
      published for posterity, and become a permanent record of your participation.

      Now you too can be part of history! Join History Maker International to honour the extraordinary
      achievements of these fearless Aviation pioneers and help recreate their final flight for the first
      time in 75 years!

      Visit the Commemorative Release and
      become a History Maker today.

				
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