William Ewart Hart was an early adopter of aviation in Australia and became the first person to qualify for his aviation licence on 5 December 1911. Like Ross Smith, Wally Shiers and Jim Bennett, he served with the Australian Flying Corps in World War I but was discharged within months due to injuries sustained in a plane accident back in 1912.

These photographs were supplied courtesy of the Garth family, who came across the images and William Hart’s Aerial League of Australia “No. 1” licence in an old suitcase bound for the dump. The originals have since been donated to the RAAF Museum at Point Cook, Victoria.  The photo top left includes, L-R: William Hart, Sir Keith Smith, NSW politician and theatre owner H.D. “Huge Deal” McIntosh, Light Horse commander Brigadier-General Charles Cox and Sir Ross Smith. It’s possible the photo was taken in February 1920 on the morning of Wally Shiers’ wedding, which was held in the garden of Mr McIntosh’s Sydney home.


This photo of Ross Smith in his Sidcot flying suit was taken at Bandar Abbas, Persia, during the epic flight and is held in the private collection of British philatelist Laurence Kimpton, author of Airmails across the Middle East 1918-1930. Photo reproduced courtesy of Mr Kimpton.

Adelaide’s Richard Koehne has a significant collection of original aircraft photographs, including this image of the Vickers Vimy at Northfield in 1920. In this picture, the “U” seems to be missing from the registration letting G-EAOU. That’s because a tarpaulin is covering the back cockpit and can’t be seen in the shadow of the upper wing.

Image donated by: Richard Koehne.

Max Lawrie from Naracoorte has shared photos he took at Adelaide Airport in 1957 including John Dowie working on his sandstone sculpture of the Vickers Vimy crew, unveiled beside the Vimy Memorial hangar at Adelaide Airport in 1958.

Adelaide’s Toby has been fascinated with aviation since he was a little tacker, and wanted to share the story he read many times as a boy in one of his favourite books, The Wonder Book of Aircraft. He’s also kept a large scrapbook of aviation news clippings from across the decades.

Images donated by: Toby

During his victory lap of Australia following the epic flight from England, Sir Ross Smith landed on a number of

private properties as he made his way down the eastern states. This letter was given to Sir Ross at Charleville on 24 December 1919, to serve as a letter of introduction to Mr & Mrs F Ryrie at Narromine in NSW.

Images donated by: Sandra Weinthal.



Renowned Adelaide numismatist Peter Lane, who for many years curated the numismatic collection at the Art Gallery of South Australia, discovered this small plaque in a local antique store. One can only wonder what artwork or souvenir it once adorned.

The Art Gallery of South Australia holds a small but highly significant collection relating to the epic flight. Highlights include stunning gold and silver medals presented to Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith by the aero clubs of the United Kingdom and France respectively, and Wally Shiers’ WWI service medals.

Image donated by: Peter Lane.

This beautiful statuette is owned by Adelaide’s Peter Docking. The inscription reads “Sir Ross Smith KBE, MC, DFC, AFC. Sponsored by Coca-Cola Amatil Limited and Elders Trustee.”

Image donated by: Peter Docking.

Adelaide’s Tom Young began painting lead figures as a boy, and amassed a magnificent collection over many decades. Among them are Smith crew members just as they were photographed before their departure from Hounslow, England, in November 1919. The figures sat in a cabinet beside Tom’s Vickers Vimy model  and other epic flight treasures, including those pictured below, in the Young family kitchen for many years.

Images donated by: Tiffany Young.


Captain Frank Hurley attaching a camera to the top of the Vimy at Northfield Aerodrome. A flight over Adelaide with Frank Hurley strapped to the upper wing taking a movie film. The camera operated by hand cranking so by necessity Frank Hurley had to be up there with it in flight. The photos of course show the camera being mounted at Northfield.

Donated by: Ron Blum

Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929), Tuesday 30 March 1920, page 6
Flight over Adelaide.
Between half-past 11 and noon on Monday the whirr of propellers and roar of engines made the unexpected announcement that the giant Vickers Vimy was aloft over Adelaide. Those on board were Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Smith, Mr. Roy Howard, Sgt. Bennett, and Captain Frank Hurley. The machine flew over Adelaide and to Port Adelaide, and thence, over Grange and Henley and back to the city. The trip was bumpy, and the conditions were hazy. Tomorrow morning, between 7 and 8 o’clock, the aviators will start on their return flight to Melbourne across the same track as they came to Adelaide.

In explanation of the letters “G E A O U” on the aeroplane, Sir Keith Smith says the G stands for Great Britain, and that instead of figures for the registration numbers, letters are substituted. When in the other states Sir Keith facetiously told an enquirer that they meant ‘God ‘elp all of us!’ Thousands of people are taking the opportunity to inspect the machine during its brief stay at the Harry J. Butler and Kauper Aviation Company’s aerodrome at Northfield. It is estimated that as many people visited the machine on Sunday as were present on the day of the arrival of Sir Ross Smith’s party. As the result of overtures made by the President of the Motor Traders’ Association (Mr. H. C. Richards), a party of representatives of the various Adelaide motor houses were permitted a close inspection of the machine on Monday morning. The Vickers Vimy was re-filled with petrol, tested, and the party made a flight over Adelaide and suburbs for the purpose of taking a cinematograph film. Captain Hurley, with his camera, was strapped to the top plane for that purpose.