— great air race CENTENARY —

First UK to Australia flight and airmail

In 1919 Prime Minister Billy Hughes, sensing the importance aviation may one day have, put up a challenge, aimed squarely at the wiley Australia pilot service men waiting to return home from the “Great War” – a 10,000 pound prize for the first to fly from the UK to Australia; multiple parties set out and the Great Air Race turned out to be demanding, difficult and finished by few.

2019 is the 100th Anniversary of this first flight from London to Darwin, the challenge won by Keith and Ross Smith - in Nov/Dec 1919. The flight was an extraordinary achievement, not only the first flight to connect the countries - but they also brought a bag of mail - which became the first airmail when it arrived into Darwin, Australia’s original International Airport! The flight paved the way for not only the future of popular passenger travel, but the much faster mail service by air was as important then as the introduction of email and the internet nearly a century later.

The new  Southern Sun

The new Southern Sun


Our next grand adventure, in the new Southern Sun, a custom built Flying Boat, designed for adventure and to retrace historic routes, will follow this epic flight visiting as many of the original cities as geopolitics allows... and bring a bag of commemorative mail from the West London departure point to be posted in Australia. A commemorative stamp has been created for the 364 items of mail on this journey, which nicely accompanies the Australia Post commemorative stamps created which will also be used. A combination of letters, envelopes, first day covers, postcards and even aerogrammes will be carried, and will be postmarked in Hounslow upon departure and in Darwin on the Dec 10th upon arrival.

Southern Sun will depart London in the first week of November from White Waltham airfield, very close to the original Hounslow Heath field, and land in Darwin Airport on the 10th of December at 3.45pm, exactly 100 years after the Smith brothers landed their Vicker’s Vimy which led to the birth of the Kangaroo Route and international airmail.

This website will be the home of the online journal that follows the journey, with an update of pictures and stories from each city visited. We’ll be filming along the way to share the story in glorious filmic style upon the return. There will be weekly radio crosses on a Sunday morning, as well as a weekly video summary on YouTube to appeal more directly to a younger audience.

More details coming soon…To send mail on the trip and stay up to date with the latest adventure subscribe to our mailing list.

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