On page 9

HUGH ^p'ftw


who was his j

personal friend

"YHE day I met Smithy, oil Sydney was panting under a

heavy pall of humidity.

/ went into the long bar of the Hotel Australia toescape the heat haze that danced in Martin pl.

And it was there-on this blistering 1927 summer day-thatI first looked into the cool, blue eyes of Charles Kingsford Smith.

I would probably never have met him but for an oil company

executive I knew.

"Come over here and meet a good bloke," he said. "He may be ableto give you a couple of news stories later. He's talking about flying roundAustralia in 10 days ..."

"Smithy's the name," said the sandy-haired "bloke," about 5ft. Sin.,with an aquiline nose and a keen, regular, rather handsome face.

"Smithy" was the name then, and at all our many meetings.

Five years later, although he was deeply sensible of the

honor that had been done him, he would have winced hadyou called him "Sir Charles."

"Smithy" had the facultyof quickly making it clearthat he was a plain Australian who hated swank, cant,and humbug.

He was a straight thinker anda straight talker. He was sincere,and he gave you a sense of powerand intensity of purpose.

He told me he had been a FirstWar pilot, and he talked abouthis projected round-Australia dashin a seven-year-old Bristol Tourer.

He said that Mr. H. CampbellJones, then managing editor of theSydney "Sun," for which I worked,was interested in the flight.

"I think I will bë able to giveyou a few pretty good aviationstories before long," he said. "Thisflight is only the preliminary tosomething . much bigger that I

have in mind."

I kept in touch with him, and afew months later secured his ownstory of that record round-Australia flight.

That was to become the forerunner of thc 200,000 words aboutSmithy and his achievementswhich I was to write in the nextfour years.

Few adventure tales of fictioncan'rival the Smithy story, whichcovered a little less than eightyears - from 1927 to 1935.

Yet rich and glowing as hisstory is in . courage and solidachievement, it has its darker andsadder side.

What I set down in this seriesis not based on mere hearsay. Itis not dredged from Smithy's private papers, of which he kept veryfew.

It is written from my personalknowledge of and 'friendship withthe man himself, gained in a fairlyclose association with him in thefirst four years of his fame.

GRAPH of the fortunes of

Sir Charles KingsfordSmith would resemble a crosssection of the Dolomite Alps..

One of his brightest days waswhen he tottered into an investiture at Buckingham Palace to receive his Military Cross.

He was badly wounded in onefoot, had lost three toes, and wasvery rocky on his legs. IcingGeorge V helped to steady Smithywhile he pinned the M.C. on hisbreast.

One of his darkest days wasafter the then Prime Minister, Mr.W. M. Hughes, had debarred himfrom attempting to- win the£10,000 offered by the FederalGovernment for the first man tofly from England to Australia.

Depressed and nearly broke, hewent to America to get a job asa Hollywood stunt pilot.


There was a day in 1903 whena half-gale raked Sydney Harbor.It thrashed wildly through thebackyards on the heights aboveNeutral Bay.

On the roof of a hen-house asmall boy of six battled with abig umbrella.

"Look out, Lefty. I'm going tofly. Watch me."

Gripping the handle of the umbrella with tiny fists, the boy leapt

the roo£ of the henhouse,with the open umbrella above hishead, he dropped with chiidlsh


But even the weight of a small

He startedwith 8/

boy of six is too great for anumbrella to play the part of aparachute. So it was that thisair pioneer fared. like Icarus.

He crashed on the shoulders of"Lefty." his brother, ,t reboundedinto the backyard, arid broke acollarbone. There were tears, rebukes, arid remorse.

This aerial mishap took placelong before Bleriot startled theworld by flying the English Chan


But the youthful pilot of theumbrella plane was to makeBleriot's air pioneering look puny


Determinedto fly

|J|f was to become Sir Charles? ? Edward Kingsford Smith, captain in the Royal Flying Corps,honorary Air Commodore in theR.A.Á.F, major in the New Zealand Air Force, Military Crosswinner, Air Force Cross winner,and known throughout the worldas Australia's wonder pilot.

One night at the end of May,1928, Smithy's father, Mr. WilliamKingsford Smith, told me the storyof his son's first flight in a lighterthan-air machine from the roof ofthe hen house.

On that night Smithy's parentsand the whole of Australia werewaiting to hear the world-stirringnews that this pathfinder had be

gun the first flight across the Paci-,


"That was the first step of youngCharlie in aviation," said Mr.Kingsford Smith. "But aeroplaneshave been his waking and sleepinghobby for years.

"I haye always had the utmostconfidence in him and in his ability to one day fly the Pacific. Hetold his mother and myself in letters that he would not come homeunless he flew home.

"'Daà,' he wrote to me, 'whenyou and all Australia see thismachine Southern Cross, you andeverybody will understand why weare confident. And make no mistake, Australia WILL see thisplane."'

To most Australians the nameof Slr Charles Kingsford Smith isbecoming a fast receding memory.

Sydney's overseas air terminal atMascot is named in his honor, butis still better known as Mascot.

His name has been given to aFederal electorate, but in a fewyears it will convey as little to the

present generation of Australiansas Hume or Blaxland.

Yet the story of Kingsford Smithis one of the most stimulatingsagas of adventure, courage, and.towering achievement in our his


It is the story, too, of an honestDigger and great Australian whofought back resolutely and cheerfully against blows of fate, againstsetbacks and rebuffs that wouldhave wrecked many lesser men.

As a sturdy, self-reliant boy witha lively Imagination, a boy whonever knew fear, the late SirCharles Kingsford Smith was nick

. CHARLES KingsfordSmith first took to the airwhen he was six. He piloted

an umbrella from the roof

of a hen-house!

named by his Sydney -schoolmates"The Mad Yank."

It is sad to reflect that hadSmithy been an American . ratherthan an Australian he would probably be living vi affluence today.

Had he not rejected a luscious,dollar-edged inducement held outto him to become ari Americancitizen and preferred to remain anAustralian, he might now be a. bigfigure in United States civil avia


What glittering rewards wouldhavetbeen showered on an American had he been the first to flythe Pacific and the first to girdlethe world by air!

TBut being an Australian, .CharlesKingsford Smith found, like DonBradman, that a notable recordof achievement, is, so to speak,a hothouse plant in this country.

Its bloom fades quickly andmust constantly be renewed byfresh achievement. There can beno resting on laurels.

Bradman had to go on makingdouble centuries. Smithy had togo on breaking flight records.Otherwise from that small butvoluble element of sceptics andsnipers would have come thatcruellest of taunts, "back number."

Kingsford Smith's waking andsleeping dream was a great overseas air mail and passenger service. But he was plagued by thelack of the big money needed tolaunch such a service.

He was a man deficient in thepower to sell himself. He was nomaster of ballyhoo.

Arid so to remain in the publiceye, to focus public attention onair routes over oceans he had tokeep on flying, keep on breakingspeed records in an endeavor toget the money.


Smithy was acknowledged in every

country as the greatest airman of

his time.

He was the outstanding aerialpathfinder ever. He gave a newmeaning .to Australian aviationand to overseas air ? transport.

He brought a new stimulus tothe aircraft industry as betterplanes were built to try to emulate

his records.

By his own genius he fired theambition of others in all airminded countries, and set in motionthc research which in a few yearsrevolutionised aviation.

Because of his meticulous planning, no man contributed more tothe flying safety we enjoy today.No man- up to his time faced the

hazards of the air over vaster expanses of ocean than Smithy.


He piled up long-distance speedrecords which amazed the worldduring the eight crowded years inwhich he dominated the air.

Certainly the growth of enginepower and the march of jet propulsion caught up on his records,but Kingsford Smith was theFIRST man to probe the secretsof ali- routes that had never beenflown, the first (to use-his ownphrase) to range out into regionsof "virgin" air.

Smithy's path certainly was notone of "roses all the way."

It was beset by heartbreaks andcruel blows. It bristled with obstacles which would have daunteda weaker character.

.At almost every step there wasobstruction and irritation by bumbling officialdom. Even after his

fame had rung round the worldhe still had to sumer the pin pricksof a meddlesome bureaucracy.

Lacking the grand manner, hewas far too tolerant in the face ofthis nonsense which any othersimilar world figure would have


Like other far-seeing Australiansbefore him, Charles KingsfordSmith learned that to have longerand wider vision than those aroundhim is not exactly popular in this


His vision of a regular air service across the Pacific and Tasman,a vision conjured up in 1927, waslooked upon by most Federal Ministers of his day as a form ofmental aberration.

They had neither the imaginationnor the horse sense to grip the


It was fantastic. It had neverbeen attempted. It had neverbeen thought of. Sb why do anything about it?

When Smithy resolved to provethat the air conquest of the vastPacific was possible and sought financial backing, , business menlistened politely but seemed tothink that his distinguished servicein the First World War had impaired his mentality.

Federal Ministers received theproposal coldly, and Smithy wastold that no Commonwealth moneywould be forthcoming for such afoolhardy enterprise.

Yet when, without Federal aid,Smithy became the first to blazethe Pacific air trail, those sameFederal Ministers scrambled on tohis bartdwaggon.

Their industrious Press secretaries sweated out for them tributes in elegant prose that glitteredwith such resounding soubriquetsas "Rider of the Winds," "Knightof the Air," "Paladin of the Sky."

They meandered on about the

commercial air service across thePacific in the future, which thegreat, flight portended, but theyleft consideration of that serviceto a very distant future.

In windy perorations Smithy wasgiven the accolade of knighthoodat a score of luncheons and ornatebanquets.

But was the Pacific flight-afeat that shook the aviation world-recognised by an immediate recommendation for knighthood?NOT AT ALL.

While the level-headed unpretentious Kingsford Smith neversought such honor, his admirersand the newspapers began toclamor for prompt recognition.NOTHING HAPPENED.

It was not- the fate of Charles "Kingsford Smith to have been theproduct of the choice pasture ofcolonial aristocracy.

And although he had little interest in politics didn't he drive hisclose friend, Joe Lamaro, laterJudge Lamaro, around his Enmoreelectorate on polling day?

And although the most unassuming of politicians, wasn't JoeLamaro a Labor man?

Honor cametoo late

CO it was that Smithy's re

commendation for

knighthood was delayedmysteriously.

Shiny rewards were distributedfreely as the last benefaction in the .gift of the Bruce-Page Ministry.

They went to people, no doubtworthy, but some of whom werehardly known to the generalpublic.

Yet any sort of honor for Australia's hero of the hour was stilldeferred while Ministers evaded

Press questions on the subject andthe Bruce-Page Government whichapproved such rewards fell, and theScullin Labor Government whichscorned them succeeded it.

It was not until 1932, and afteranother change in Government,that Smithy received his knighthood.

In the 1920's there was littlestability in government in NewSouth Wales. At each State election the political pendulumoscillated violently.

Labor Governments were swept,out of office and the Nationalist(now Liberal) Party was swept in.

Nationalist Governments in turnfell and voters sent back theLabor Party. This swing occurredthree times in, 10 years.

One such political convulsion in1927, dislocated the maturing plansof Kingsford Smith for his epochmaking Pacific flight.

? It left him and his two mates,Charles Ulm and Keith Anderson,almost flat broke and in debt inCalifornia.

Smithy was to have bitter memories of the fickleness of the NewSouth Wales electors.

A few months earlier thePremier of New South Wales, Mr.John Lang, and his Labor Cabinet, had guaranteed Smithy£3,500 as preliminary expenses'forthe. proposed Pacific flight.

. Fares of the party to San Fran

cisco were paid by the State Government which also was preparedto supply the petrol and have ltstored along the route.

Mr. Lang liked Charles Kings- ?ford Smith from the first momenthe met him in June, 1927.

"I could see he was an ideal' <ist," he said. "He was determined

to fly the Pacific. He wanted Aua- itralia to be there first. He coulddo it. All he needed- was themoney. There was no humbugabout him. He had a fixed idea.

Nothing would shift him. . There »was only one way to sum him'up.He was a good Australian."

A film magnet in the UnitedStates had promised 50,000 dollarsto the first airman to fly the


Kingsford Smith had told those <from whom he sought financial

backing that if he won that prize .he would have enough money topay back every penny put into the


Still there was no plane for thejob and no funds to pay passagesto the United States.

While others were debating thedoubts, the difficulties, and thedangers of such an enterprise, Mr.Lang had the utmost confidence inthe courage and ability of Smithyto span the Pacific by air.

He promised him further advances. He foresaw that such atriumph would stimulate aviation '

in Australia.

He felt too, that it would earna vast amount of desirable pub

licity for the State of New South 1Wales. He was prepared to gamble ;

on the project.

But then came the turn of the :political tide.

Mr. Lang and his Government, ,after two yéars of power, went

down at the polls. Mr. Tom Bavin, >

late Sir Thomas Bavin formed ;

his first Nationalist Ministry and

took office.

Mr. Bavin was not prepared togamble on the Pacific flight project. He was haunted by the fearthat Kingsford Smith and hiscompanions would lose their livesin an enterprise he regarded asbeing reckless.

Nobody had ever attempted to


Neither Mr. Bavin nor members jof his Cabinet desired to be assort- ;ated in any way with a flight .which they were certain would end j

in disaster. .

His Cabinet would not' advance >or guarantee any further sums. He ?urged Kingsford Smith to sell theFokker monoplane he had boughtin America, abandon the flight, and

come home.

This was a shattering blovywhich would have crushed thespirit of many a man.

It left Kingsford Smith in a fin- '.ancial morass. 'It seemed to spell

the end of his dream of flying from !California to Australia.

Yet the irrepressible Smithy waa

undaunted. \

Severe as the setback was, it .

served only further to stimulate hia 'ambition to silence the doubtersby doing the job.

. Continued on P. 2 ;

On page 10

1+ Continued from Page 1


|| pOLITICÁL bumbledom did not hold Smithy back - with

fl typical Digger tenacity he sought Americambacking.

S And it was AMERICAN money that finallyll made possible his great Pacific flight.

iii That fact alone was in||| the nature of a reproach on||| the Australian Government

O and also on the new Govern

j'l ment in New South Wales.

ti In their forebodings- of

1| disaster . they showed a lack!|| of confidence in KingsfordUl Smith which was not shared|l| in America. And they passedI i up the golden chance of giv;'M ing official imprimatur to a||}| notable and historic achieve

( I ment.

''?j Five months later, in June, 1928,'.'I when the whole world was hailing

'.'} the triumph of Smithy, the Fede- ?

, ral Government gave him £5,000.J Then later the Prime Minister,N'] Mr. Bruce, stipulated that the sum

I should be divided among Smithy

and his three .companions in the, í enterprise.

ít i Had such a division been, made,u ¡j Kingsford Smith would have re% j ceived from a "grateful" Govern^{ ment about a quarter of the costS_ ]' of an overseas trip by a Federal¿ . Minister and his retinue.

II Setbacks

If . - ??-~- ?

|| came fas*

¿¡¡j ANOTHER gift of £5,000 by

M one Sydney business man,I f Mr. Lebbeus Hordern, equalledkl the grant of the Federal Govern

V, ment.

m Setbacks and disappointments as

ti. I well as air triumphs studded the ,kl career bf Charles Kingsford Smith.$!$ Demobilised from the Royal Fly

Af.a ing Corps after the first war in

fyi 1919, he set his heart on winning

wa a prize of £10,000 offered by the

|ts Australian Government for theZ.j first flight.from England to AusII tralia.

He was debarred by the then¡8 Prime Minister, Mr. W. M.lUfl Hughes, from making the attempt.

|;| The grounds of the embargo

", were the extreme youth of Smithy

il J (22) and the fact that neither he|||| nor his two ex-Flying Corps com\; .¡j panions, George Maddocks and BillS A Rendle, knew anything about airI !| navigation.

II At the height of his fame Kingsj 1 ford Smith was keen to win theI tl England-to-Australia air race, aII feature of the Melbourne Centenl'S ary in 1934.

f i There was a £10,000 prize hangj Á ing to that air dash, BUT AGAINI fl HE WAS THWARTED.

5 a He had bought in America theMI fastest commercial plane that had¡ha been seen in Australia up to thatM time. But being a foreign-built air

craft he was hampered by lack

B| of a United States certificate ofsj« air worthiness which the rules of.ff] fl the race demanded.

Wffl When he finally received a clearys ance and sought to make a quickf<i| dash, to England to be in time toii it start in the race, a cracked enginef! § cowling delayed him in Northern

D' j|- Australia. .

lj| They called ?.

\\ him coward! '

t j TTE had to return to SydneyLl for a new cowling, and|, j when it Vas fitted there wasi¡; j not sufficient time to fly to Eng

Í-: \ñ land.

1 |i] Smithy learned then how thef à hero worshippers of one day canfe i-Iii become the snipers .and the

6 ;|| "knockers" of another.

\ f He received from Australians in

' suiting anonymous letters whichI ü charged him with havingpi I "squibbed" facing up to the Cen\< \ tenar y air race. "

\\ '« And this man with a magnifi

ât cent war record, pioneer of the*fi s Pacific air route, conqueror of the

Tasman, and master of the eastwest Atlantic air route was sent dvicious letter which . enclosed ctwhite feather!

His Pacific and Tasman triumphsearned for Kingsford Smith promotion, first to the rank of Honorary Wing Commander, and laterto thát of - Honorary Air Commodore of the Royal Australian Air


Those promotions, of course, didnot carry with them the emoluments pertaining to those exalted

ranks. .

In 1932 it was suggested thatboth he and Bert Hinkler were tooold for employment in the. AirForce. Smithy was then 35 andHinkler 39.


As a former First War pilot.Kingsford Smith, between thewars, brought greater distinctionto Australian aviation than anyother living airman.

But this did not give him Immunity from the petty irritationsof a meddling bureaucracy.

On the eve of one of his recordbreaking flights the Air Boardbilled him for £26 for the servicing of his famous monoplane,Southern Cross, at Richmond,


And the Board reminded himalso that he still owed 5/ an hourovertime to the Air Force mechanics who worked on the job!

Had Kingsford Smith been anAmerican the resources of theUnited States Air Force wouldhave been, placed at his disposalwithout charge.

Any reasonable Australian wouldhave thought that the first acquaintance of our Air Force withengines of a type never before seenin Australia would have been sufficient recompense. But bureaucracywas unmoved and adamant.

Smithy, smiled wryly as he toldme of this accounting pleasantryjust before he took off from Richmond aerodrome on his' recordbreaking Australia to England

flight, in 1929.

Bumbledomhos its way

TTE just shrugged his

shoulders when he washanded copies of safety regu

lations which he himself hadoriginated or inspired.

He was distinctly angered by theimputations of cowardice ' in theanonymous letters in 1934. But hewas deeply hurt by the last brushhe had with Australian officialdoma year before his death.

When the blue, streamlinedLockheed Altair was bought byKingsford Smith in America in1934 he named the plane Anzac.He intended to fly this plane Inthe Centenary air race.

He had seen service on Gallipoliwhen he was only 19, and he feltthat the name "Anzac," as he putit, "would give him something tolive up to" and enable him to putup a good show in the race.

But it was not to be.

His dismay can be imaginedwhen he was told by officers otthe Customs Department that hewould not be allowed to land theaircraft in Sydney from the linerMonterey until the word "Anzac"was obliterated from either sideot the machine!

Legislation had been passed toprevent the word "Anzac" being


It was felt generally in' Sydneyat the time that the Departmentwould see flt to make an excep

tion in the case of Sir Charles'Kingsford Smith who proposedthen to carry the name "Anzac" inthe historic Centenary air race. But


In all itsx rigidity the regulationwas applied to the Lockheed.

It was futile to argue that anaircraft named "Anzac" flown bya distinguished Australian. - whowas himself an Anzac, couldhardly bring the word into disre


Customs officers ordered thatpieces of paper be pasted over theword "Anzac" on either side of theLockheed before it was landed ona punt.

Later at Mascot aerodrome aCustoms officer stood on guardwhile painters obliterated the name"Anxac"' from the plane. Onlywhen this was done would thejgive it a Customs clearance.

Smithy, who stood nearby, saidnothing, thought a lot, and renamed the aircraft Lady Southern


NOWN to his mother, Mrs.

Catherine KingsfordSmith, always by his babynickname "Chilla," Charles Kings

ford Smith was born in the Bris- .bane suburb of Hamilton on February 9, 1897.

His father, a bank manager, wastransferred to Sydney at. the turnof the century, and New SouthWales, always regarded Smithy as

her own.

From the time when he was ableto walk young "Chilla" was always a fearless boy - too daringoften for the peace of mind of his


Soon after the umbrella "hop"and the broken collarbone, youngCharles was taken by his parentsto Vancouver, Canada.

. His father had accepted a position as 'a superintendent in theCanadian Pacific Railway service.

Smithy received his early schooling in Vancouver, where his family Intended to make their home.Had they carried out that intention the mind of their famous sonmight never have turned to avia


Young "Chilla" went within anace of falling overboard on thevoyage to Vancouver.

He was reported, missing one

"Chiflo" wastoo daring,

. BLERIOT'S feat in flyingthis plane across the English Channel inspired Kings-,

ford Smith.

morning. His anxious parentssearched the ship but failed to find


A breathless passenger racedalong the deck to report that heknew where "Chilla" was, but hewas jammed."

A search party found him hanging from the anchor hawser hole

in the bows.

"Chilla" had sought to show asmall pal how easy it was to reachthe hawser hole, but he found hecouldn't get back to the deck. Hehad to be hauled from his-precarious perch by crew members.

When the Kingsford Smiths returned to Sydney about 1909 youngCharles was sent to St. Andrew'sCathedral School.

He threw himself into any sportthat was strenuous and demandedcourage y yet on Sundays he wasto be found in cassock and surplice' singing in tht choir of St. David's.

From the age of 12 he readeverything he could find about flying machines, as they were then


And what a vista opened upbetween 1909 and 1914 to stimu.late the imagination of any ah>minded schoolboy!

First there was Bier lot's flightacross the Channel in a monoplane named the Antoinette.

That feat made world headlines.And the speed of the Antoinette- 37 miles an hour - then seemedincredible.

From that flight rapid strideswere made in many countries inthe effort to conquer the air.

''THINGS were happening

overhead in Australia aswell as overseas during the

Edwardian era.

, A daring young man namedGeorge Taylor flew a box-kiteglider at Narrabeen, N.S.W.,. in1909, and Houdini, the magicianpilot, brought the first poweredaeroplane to Australia in 1910 andflew it at Diggers' Rest, ¡Victoria.

J. R. Duigan. a mechanic, butlthis own machine and got into theair in it at Mia Mia, Victoria-, onJuly 16. 1910.


led Smithy

. ABOVE: Smithy and hisLockheed Altair in 1934.Customs officers would notallow him to land the planein Sydney until Smithy hadscraped the word "Anzac"from the fuselage (see picture right). He renamed itthe "Lady Southern Cross."

Every Australian schoolboy wasthrilled by the exploit of W. E.Hart a few months later. Hartflew a powered plane 30 miles fromPenrith to Sydney at a time whenan air swoop of one mile was regarded as praiseworthy.

Harry Hawker in 1911 stirred aCaulfield race crowd to wild enthusiasm by flying round the


Fourteen years later KingsfordSmith told me that he had read

and re-read the details- of all those .early flights in a Sydney weekly -"World's News."

He said that these aviationstories and fanciful predictions onthe course of the next war betweenFrance and Germany provided themost stirring reading of his boyhood. r

The flight which appealed tohim most was that of the French

man Maurice Guillaux from Mel- .bourne to Sydney in 9 hours 25.minutes on July 19, 1914.

Guillaux flew a Bleriot monoplane with a rattling Gnome rotary engine, and was sharply reprimanded by the Sydney ÇityCouncil for having dared to flyover Sydney at night.

"All this striving in various

parts of the world to master the.air used to set me tingling withexcitement as a boy," said Smithy.

"I never once dreamed in thatfirst aviation era that I would everget a chance to fly in a plane, letalone to fly one myself.

"But for thc lucky chance ofbeing selected for the"Royal FlyingCorps in the First War just because I was pretty bright in takingmachinery to bits and putting it

together again I might never haveflown a plane."

But at the age of 13 the careerof the boy who was to become theworld's greatest airman was againnearly cut short.

Young "Chilla" got out of hisdepth in rough surf at Bondi beachand was carried out by the under


Lifesavers went after him andbrought him back to the. beachunconscious. They worked hardto revive him, but ' there was no

response. '

They thought he was dead.

Nurse saveshis life

TTE owed his life to a nurse

who bustled out of thecrowd " on the beach and

worked on him for more than anhour. Her"" efforts succeeded inbringing him round.

? Soon after, this narrow escapefrom death, young Chàrlés left theCathedral School and was enrolledat the Sydney Technical College,where he studied electrical engineering. By the age of 14 he wasquite proficient in English and revelled in mathematics.

Masters who taught Smithy toldme that no matter what aspect ofthe subject he worked on, he applied himself to it with rare tenacity and intense concentration.

They said he aimed at learningeverything possible about any kindof machine'or electrical or mechanical process. - ,

"He had that quality of 'stickatitness' which he carried into hisflying," said the then head masterof Sydney Technical, Mr. John


Smithy had a small sailing boat,and in his school holidays he spenthis time exploring the' HawkesburyRiver and the waterways behindBroken Bay.

Once or twice he dared the opensea beyond Sydney Heads;

. He had to abandon his sailingwhen he was apprenticed at 16 taelectrical engineering ' and beganwork in the machine shop of thcColonial Sugar Refining Companjin Sydney.

That was early in 1913, and ht

had completed nearly two years ofhis apprenticeship when FirstWorld War began.

In those first dramatic weeksof the, great conflict, when Belgiumwas overrun and Paris was threatened by the German armies,Charles Kingsford Smith wantedto join the A.I.F.

His parents, however, made himpromise that he would ? not attempt to enlist by giving a falseage. They urged him to wait until

he was 18.

?Six days after his birthday, onFebruary 15, 1915, Smithy was . accepted as a recruit in the artillery.Just before his unit left Australiahe transferred to the Signal Engineers, and with them landed onGallipoli.

He ' saw service as a despatchrunner during that grim campaignuntil the evacuation.

Then, while serving as a despatchrider with the A.I.F. in France,his skill in handling machinery

came under notice.

In late October. 1916, KingsfordSmith was one of a group of 140Australians selected from the A.I.F.ranks to go to England to train

for a commission in the Royal Ply

ing Corps.

For the first time in his life hewas brought into close contact withaircraft, and he realised quicklythat he had found his real career.

He became absorbed in the studyof planes, and after a remarkablyshort period of instruction he wasable to fly solo.

As the aircraft used in the FirstWorld War were far less complicated than the high-speed bombersand fighters of the Second War,,pilots were trained much «more


.. In April,. 1917, Kingsford Smithwas in France with the 56th Squadron, but after his recovery from-anillness he was switched to the 23rdSquadron of Spads.

After a period of scouting andartillery spotting over the Ypressalient, Smithy passed on to histoughest, assignment - strafingGerman trenches and aerodromeswith machine-gun fire. .

Smithy, in the steadily growingair war over France in 1917, became a daring pilot with completecontrol of his machine.

I VER Flanders he swoopedw down on a column ofGerman troops massing forattack, scattered them with ahurricane of machine-gun fire, andhalted the pending thrust.

On the same day he shot down atwo-seater enemy plane in flames.It plunged into an enemy camp andset a line of wooden huts ablaze.

' He had four "kills" to his credHwhen he became involved in awhirlwind "dog-fight" with aswarm of German planes over the

Somme front.

Before the fire of his guns threeGerman planes nosedived in flames,and then he was shot down him

self. »

Clash withRichthofen

It was said later that in the final

fierce duel his opponent was theredoubtable German air ace Baronvon Richthofen.

Smithy's machine ran into *astorm of machine-gun bullets, andhe was severely wounded in thefoot. He suffered a temporaryblackout from the pain of hiswound, and his plane went into a


' By sheer determination he overcame his faintness long enough' tostraighten out and make a fairly

good landing.

A hero


r\NE of his feet was badly

mangled by bullets, andthere were 168 bullet holes iir. the fuselage of his machine. .Threeof his toes had tb be amputated,;and after a term in' hospital in -England hè was invalided'back toAustralia. ? :>

He had been discharged as unfitfor further active service, butsomehow wangled his way back toEngland in August, 1918. .

He at once sought further servicewith the Royal Flying Corps, butmedical officers would not pass him.

He was promoted to the rank ofcaptain, and appointed a flying instructor, a post which he held untilhis demobilisation in May, 1919.

Smithy's attack on the Germancolumn earned him the MilitaryCross for outstanding gallantry in

. action. .

He hobbled on crutches intoBuckingham Palace to receive hisM.C. He was very rocky on hislegs after a long spell in hospital.

King George V himself helped tosteady him as he pinned thc medalon Smithy's tunic. The King toldhim that because of his disabilityhe was at liberty to retire in anyway he chose, so that he might not



Charles Kingsford Smith was inhis 22nd year when the war ended.

Aviation had him in its grip. Heforesaw the great stimulus the waiwould give to aircraft constructionand flying techniques. Life as anengineer had ' lost its appeal foi


Flying for


""jV/TY intention is to take ur.

flying in Australia on nijreturn," he wrote to hisparents. "It is an honorable anc,an interesting career, and at hom<there will be openings for our ser


What the youthful Smithy did noforesee, however, was that he himself was to bring as great honoto the profession of flying as an;man in his generation. .

Kingsford Smith did not returiimmediately to Australia when hwas "demobbed." He scoutearound in England with restlesenergy for some means of employlng his skill as a pilot.

At the war's end there was littlstoring of the planes which hahelped the Allies to victory.

They had not been the expensivjobs to build that the fighters anbombers were in the Second GresWar. They became more or leslumber, and 'anyone who felt likrisking his neck could buy theifrom the War Ministry at almoigive-away prices.

Smithy went into partnershiwith two other former pilots of trRoyal Flying Corps - George Macdocks and Bill Rendle - on

barnstorming project in the nortof England.

They bought three D.H.6's alsurdly cheap, and began taklipassengers up for joy rides.

With aviation still more or lein its swaddling clothes, these shoflits in any sort of aircraft beean'popular after the long agony of tlfirst War. Because of their novelthey remained so for more thitwo years.

. Thousands of people wanted

.. -. -, . frc ':? V

be able to say that they had "gonaup" in an aeroplane.

It was a craze that became thetheme of a straight play and thena musical comedy. "Going Up," byOtto Hauerbach and Louis Hirsch.

Kingsford Smith and his twomates found their flimsy planesrushed by customers. Main valueof these short flights to Smithywas that they added to his flyingexperience and set his mind revolving on long-distance odysseys over


They awakened him, also, to thevast possibilities of long-distancecommercial flights when bigger aircraft with greater power were built,

"You didn't need any heavensent inspiration to see the possibilities ahead," he said to me.

"Those helter-skelter dashesaround England appeared to me, to be the foundation of commercial flying. In the mind's eye you. only had to magnify the planes

? and the passenger accommodation;; and you could visualise highly pay

vable air services.

"There was nothing fantasticabout this thought, but when Igot back home I was told that Iwas thinking far ahead of my time,WHAT DAMNED NONSENSE!

"Everything has to have a startand somebody has to give it a


"They laughed

at me . .

"T BEGAN to think of the

Pacific as early as 1919,and they laughed at me.".

There was not thc slightest doubtthat Charles Kingsford Smithcould have flown one of the largerFirst War planes to Australia in


To try to win the £10,000 prizeoffered by the Australian Government to the first man to fly fromEngland to Australia became hisconsuming ambition..

He- raced round , England Insearch of the right' aircraft, andproposed that his two barnstormingpals, Maddocks and Rendle, shouldshare in whatever honors, he might


He had the experience and theability to get through such a flightsafely. But then came the first ofhis many setbacks..

Ministerial advisers, those mysterious, , omnipotent figures in thebackground, had advised the thenPrime Minister, Mr. W. M. Hughes,that there was such a science asair navigation.

. There was -» but it was in veryrudimentary form in 1919. It hadnot reachced the peak of perfectionnine years later.

Young Smithy was not a navigator, nor were Maddocks and


They, too, were In the early 20's,but the whole party felt that, provided they maintained a compasscourse, they could take in the shortsea hops on the route with ease.

Mr. Hughes, who was then inEngland for the Peace Conference,stepped in and debarred Kingsford

Smith from taking part in any such


First, he said, Smithy and hiscolleagues had no knowledge ofnavigation, and, second, they were

too young.

"Billy" apparently had forgottenfor the moment that William Pittbecame Prime Minister of England

at 23.

That rebuff could easily have lostto Australia the greatest airman of

his time.

Smithy immediately went off toAmerica to get a job as a stuntpilot in Hollywood.

He was so broke when he reachedCalifornia that his. sole possessionswere the uniform he wore, eightshillings, and one orange.