These learning resources and useful links have been compiled to ensure teachers, students and researchers can find everything they need to explore and understand the story of the epic flight.
The State Library of South Australia has digitised its collection of Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith’s personal papers and other material relating to the brothers and the Great Air Race. The collection includes a number of significant primary source items including:
As part of its 2019 Heroes of the Skies exhibition, the library also commissioned a mini podcast series called In the words of Ross Smith.
Sir Ross Smith’s first-hand account of the 1919 Great Air Race and the epic flight from England to Australia. First published just after the aviator’s death in 1922, the book was reprinted in 2019 as Flight to Fame by Wakefield Press, introduced and edited by South Australian historian Peter Monteath.
Wally Shiers spoke at length about his life and the Great Air Race during a interview with oral historian Hazel de Berg in 1966. You can hear the entire recording online via the National Library of Australia’s Trove website.
The Vickers Vimy, with its twin 360hp Rolls Royce Eagle VIII engines, was always going to be the aircraft to beat in the Great Air Race. Check out our collection of articles, images and drawings to learn how the Vimy was designed and built in 1918. Click here.
For a comprehensive list of recommended reading materials, please click here.
You’ll find hundreds of documents, photographs and original digitised 1919 newspaper clippings relating to the Great Air Race, the Smith crew and the epic flight on trove.nla.gov.au – Australia’s national online library database hosted by the National Library of Australia.
Flight magazine was one of the leading British aviation periodicals at the time of the Great Air Race. Their archives have been digitised in PDF format and are free to explore online. You’ll find fascinating articles on the Great Air Race, the competitors and their aircraft – all in the context of the developing aviation industry immediately after WWI. (To search the archive database, simply enter a search term such as “Vickers Vimy” from 1919 to 1919 and you’ll find all references to the Vickers Vimy, including design drawings.)
Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive holds extensive archival footage relating to the epic flight and the 1919 Air Race. You’ll also find historic footage on international sites such as British Pathé, including vision of Ross Smith and Jim Bennett in Weybridge in 1922 and the crash in which they died.
The team at the South Australian Aviation Museum has compiled comprehensive profiles on Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith, Wally Shiers and Jim Bennett, with a detailed look at the 28-day flight from London to Darwin and the trouble-plagued victory lap south to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. The museum’s library holds an extensive collection of original newspaper clippings and documents relating to the flight, and you’ll also find many fascinating objects in their Vickers Vimy display.
The Greatest Air Race is the first documentary to relive the trials, tragedies and triumphs of the forgotten heroes who braved unflown skies. NASA astronaut Andy Thomas explores the story of Ross Smith’s record-breaking flight using little-seen footage and expert interviews. And inside the hangar of the surviving Vickers Vimy, he makes a stunning discovery: the aircraft is as significant as the Apollo moon lander. Sir Ross Smith was the Neil Armstrong of his day. View the trailer.
To coincide with the release of The Greatest Air Race documentary, Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) released a comprehensive study guide on the Air Race and the winning Vickers Vimy crew. Written by academic Robert Lewis, the 29-page resource is engaging and lively, and is ideal for students of History, English, Media Studies and Geography. The guide is available to download for free from www.theeducationshop.com.au.
Did you know Indigenous Australians have have been using the physics of flight to their advantage for tens of thousands of years? Click here to read an article on the South Australian Museum website about the physics of boomerang flight. South Australian inventor and Ngarrindjeri man David Unaipon (immortalised on Australia’s $50 note) used the concept of a boomerang flying through the air to come up with a basic helicopter design in 1914, two decades before the first helicopter flight.