In 1919 the Australian government launched a competition to win a prize of $10,000 for the first Australians in a British aircraft to fly from Great Britain to Australia. 100 years ago on 12th November a converted Vimy bomber (registration G-EAOU – said to stand for “God ‘elp all of us”) – took off from Hounslow Heath at 8am flown by Captain Ross Macpherson Smith, his brother Lieutenant Keith Macpherson Smith and mechanics Sergeant W.H. Shiers and J.M. Bennett.
The Vimy flew via Lyon, Rome, Cairo, Damascus, Basra, Karachi, Delhi, Calcutta, Akyab, Rangoon racecourse, Singora, Singapore, Batavia and Surabaya reaching Darwin at 4.10pm on 10 December 1919. The flight distance was approximately 17,911 kilometers and total flying time was 135 hours 55 minutes. They completed this momentous achievement against all the elements in an open cockpit with no method of communication with the ground and just a basic compass to direct them. The prize money was shared between the Smith brothers and the mechanics. The Smith brothers each received a knighthood for their exploits. The race was incredibly significant, opening up transportation and creating communication and trade routes. The Vickers Vimy is currently stored in an aircraft hangar in Adelaide Airport.