The arrival of an aircraft was an exciting time for Gunnedah residents in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The town was visited by several aviators on barnstorming flights, which was a way of fuelling interest in flying and giving the aviators a financial stake for their further long-distance attempts.
Most Gunnedah people had hardly seen a plane, let alone taken a ride in one, but for 10 shillings, then a small fortune, they were taken up for a “spin”.
Gunnedah and District Historical Society has a souvenir ticket of a flight in the famous monoplane, the Southern Cross, flown by Charles Kingsford Smith, which landed in Gunnedah on June 25, 1933.
The plane landed in a paddock which is now part of the Gunnedah aerodrome with sightseers entering the paddock from the Blue Vale Road.
The Southern Cross was the plane in which Charles Kingsford Smith, co-pilot Charles Ulm and navigators Lyons and Warner completed the first crossing of the Pacific, from San Francisco to Brisbane, in 1928. Kingsford Smith and Ulm later flew from Richmond (NSW) to London in 1929 and then crossed the Atlantic to the United States. In the Southern Cross, they became the first to circumnavigate the globe in the one plane.
The plane in the photograph is not the Southern Cross – it is the Southern Moon, which Kingsford Smith bought as part of the fleet of Australian National Airways (ANA). After the collapse of ANA, the Southern Moon, an Avro X, was bought by Charles Ulm from the creditors and renamed Faith in Australia. So it is not known in whose ownership the plane rested when it landed in Gunnedah.
Kingsford Smith and co-pilot Tommy Pethybridge disappeared over the Bay of Bengal on November 8, 1935, in a Lockheed Altair in an attempt on the England-Australia flight record. No trace of them was ever found. Charles Ulm had earlier met a similar fate. In December 1934, he and two others went down in the Pacific on a flight between California and Honolulu. They were never found.To order photos from this page click here