National Geographic : 1928 Oct
VOL. LIV, No. 4 WASHINGTON OCTOBER, 1928 THE COPYRIGHT 1928 BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY WASHINGTON DCINTHEUNITEDSTATESAND GREAT BRITAIN OUR CONQUEST OF THE PACIFIC The Narrative of the 7,400-Mile Flight from San Francisco to Brisbane in Three Ocean Hops BY SQUADRON-LEADER CHARLES E. KINGSFORD-SMITH AND FLIGHT-LIEUT. CHARLES T. P. ULM Co-Commanders Southern Cross Transpacific Flight * T O FLY across a sweep of 4,900 miles of ocean over which the steady drone of an airplane motor had never been heard. To see the Fiji Islands come suddenly popping up like great brown bulges on a floor of blue. To watch the long, gray land mass of the Australian Continent slip like a purple shadow over the steel-blue rim of the sea. To know that we had been the first to cross the Pacific and had achieved the am bition of our lives. How does it all feel ? Wild elation surged through us in the cockpit of the Southern Cross when Aus tralia appeared below us in the pale, pearl glow of a weak midwinter sun. Now we both know how Columbus must have felt when he saw those floating tree branches drifting on the tide that hurried out into the Atlantic wastes. We can ap preciate, too, the tingle of triumph that must have rippled through Captain Cook when he trained his telescope on Cape 1'verard for his first glimpse of Australia on that notable April morning 158 years ago. *Besides the Australian authors of this article, the crew of the Southern Cross also included two Americans-James W. Warner, radio operator, and Harry W. Lyon, navigator. We felt justifiable pleasure that to us had fallen the honor of having been the rediscoverers of the east coast of Aus tralia, this time from the air. We felt, too, that we had opened up a new route of communication with our American neighbors on the other side of the Pacific. But how was it all done? How did the Southern Cross sweep down that unknown and unflown airline to Suva? What was the basis of our success? Those three engines tore through calm and storm; through rushing walls of tropic rain; through tumbled clouds piled like gray mountain peaks; through a howl ing head wind and through a hushed night sown with stars. Never was there a sem blance of hesitancy in their beat. Why? To answer these queries, to explain the factors to which we owe our success, we must go back to those long months of preparation in the United States. They were months in which we planned and plotted on a fixed policy of trusting for the best flying conditions and preparing for the very worst. That was the policy on which we studied transoceanic flying, loading, fueling, and the navigation side of the flight. We maintain with some justice that ours was a more efficiently organized flight than those that had failed.