16 November, 2019
Ross Smith’s mechanics Jim Bennett and Wally Shiers were inducted into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame at a ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
In a media release announcing the decision, Hall of Fame chairman Steve Padgett OAM said: “2019 is the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Sydney Airport and the 100th anniversary of the London to Australia Air Race. 2019 is also significant in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the RAAF. These are major events in Australia’s aviation and aerospace history and reflect the significant contributions of our inductees for this year.”
“This year the Hall of Fame has the pleasure and privilege of inducting three individuals and one organisation. They include: James Bennett and Walter Shiers, AFC aircraft mechanics whose outstanding technical abilities and determination not only enabled the completion of the England to Australia air race in 1919 piloted by Ross and Keith Smith, but the winning of it. Ross Smith acknowledged publicly that the flight would never have been completed without the efforts of these two men. Prior to this flight they were the mechanics on the first Cairo to Calcutta flight, also piloted by Ross Smith.”
Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith were inaugural inductees in 2012.