9 December, 1919
Ross Smith and his Vickers Vimy crew were now just a day’s flight from Darwin, after making a 440-mile journey over thick haze from Bima to Atamboea (Timor).
They had a large quantity of coconuts on board, gifted by Bima locals (as Ross noted, “evidently they thought the Vimy a very thirsty sort of bird”) and spotted the “excellent” Atamboea aerodrome from several miles away due to a large white cross marked in the centre. The airfield had been made especially for the Great Air Race and was just one day old.
“The Dutch officials had thoughtfully arranged our petrol and oil supply close at hand, saving us a good deal of valuable time, which we were able to devote to a thorough overhaul,” Ross wrote in 14,000 Miles Through the Air.
“Tomorrow would be the great day whereupon reposed the destiny of our hopes, labors, and ideals.”
The image top left was taken by Keith Smith and shows Wally Shiers, Jim Bennett and Ross Smith drinking from coconuts. It was first published in 14,000 Miles through the Air.