Journey back to early 1919 with Phil Wilkinson who'll tell the story of The Great Australian Air Race. Many would see the race as a mad adventure, some, a commercial dream and others, a fatal idea, but in May 1919, the Commonwealth Government of Australia offered a prize of £10,000 for the first flight from Great Britain to Australia, a prize which would have been worth over half a million pounds today.
Specific instructions were issued for the race in consultation with the Royal Aero Club and stated that valid aircrews had to be Australian nationals, aircraft must have been constructed in the British Empire and that the journey must be completed within 720 consecutive hours – 30 days!
The six teams of intrepid birdmen who not forgetting, had all just acquitted themselves adequately in the War, in some cases heroically with medals to prove it, had many challenges to face including imperfect weather forecasting, uncertain surface conditions at all the planned airstrips, arguments over payment for fuel in foreign parts, not to mention the aircraft themselves.
It is difficult to believe that anyone got to Australia at all, given all the chances for upset on their journey and many did not survive the challenge.
Find out about the race and see images of some of the unique aircraft that took part in the race. Hear about his own career which thankfully was seldom under those kinds of pressure, although the delivery of a Bucker Jungmann to Germany did create some excitement when it was complicated as the map blew out of the cockpit over Belgium.