Charles Kingsford Smith at the The UQ Alumni Book Fair® and Rare Book Auction

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, MC, AFC, is a looming, almost mythic figure on the landscape of Australia’s cultural history. A decorated veteran in WWI – who served in Egypt, in France, and at Gallipoli before he was awarded the military cross – Kingsford Smith became arguably the most recognised pilot in Australian aviation. He embarked on countless journeys to demonstrate the potential of air travel, breaking records and earning himself a reputation the world over.

On the 31st of May, 1928, he completed the first flight from the United States to Australia. This earned the Brisbane-born Kingsford Smith great acclaim and an honorary rank with the RAAF. At the end of his trans-Pacific flight, he landed the Southern Cross – a Fokker Trimotor aircraft – at Eagle Farm Airport in front of a 26,000-strong crowd of fans and admirers.

Often, to finance his expeditions, Smithy would barnstorm with the Southern Cross in Australian towns. He would perform tricks, give demonstrations, and provide joy-rides for residents of the towns for a fee, giving every-day Australians the chance to experience their surroundings from the vantage point of the famous pilot. My grandfather was one such lucky customer. A primary school teacher in Inglewood, my granddad bought himself a flight with Kingsford Smith in the early thirties and I believe this flight remained a source of great pride for him for the rest of his life.

Front cover of the publication, available for bidders at the Rare Book Auction

At The UQ Alumni Book Fair® 2019 Rare Book Auction, we’re lucky enough to have a memento of the tremendous life and career of Charles Kingsford Smith. A 1928 publication written by Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm – who flew with Smithy in the ground-breaking flight from America to Australia – is one of the lots of the catalogue at the Rare Book Auction. This publication documents the record-breaking flight, detailing the 84 flying hours the crew of four undertook to successfully complete the feat. Included with the publication is a note signed by both Kingsford Smith and Ulm, as well as famed motorcar racer, Norman Smith. It is a wonderful publication, with insight into a fascinating piece of Australia’s past and of aviation history.

Viewing takes place at the Fryer Library on the 3rd of May (4pm-6pm), and the Auction starts at 6:00pm for 6:30pm. A chance to see and to bid on this rare piece of Australian history.

Additional Sources and further reading: – Fifty Australians – Smithy – The Pioneers

Tom Campbell

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