National Geographic : 1921 Mar
VOL. XXXIX, No. 3 WASHINGTON MARCH, 1921 QGEORAPll lCI _MAGAZI E COPYRIGHT.1921,BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTON.D. C. FROM LONDON TO AUSTRALIA BY AEROPLANE A Personal Narrative of the First Aerial Voyage Half Around the World BY SIR Ross SMITH, K. B. E.* DURING the latter phase of the war, while I was flying with the Number One Australian Flying Squadron in Palestine, a Handley-Page aeroplane was flown out from England by Brigadier - General A. E. Borton, C.M.G., D.S.O., A.F.C., to takepart in Allenby's last offensive. It was in tended that this monster aeroplane should be chiefly employed in carrying out active night bombing operations against the enemy. I hailed as good fortune the orders that detailed me to fly it. The re markable success eventually achieved by this terrible engine of destruction, and its unfailing reliability during the ensuing long-distance flights, inspired in me great confidence and opened my eyes to the possibilities of modern aeroplanes and their application to commercial uses. A CIIALLENGE IN JEST It is in a large measure due to the ex tensive experiences gained while piloting this Handley-Page machine that I was induced to embark upon and carry to a successful issue the first aerial voyage from London to Australia. In a lesser degree, the undertaking was suggested in a joke. One day General Borton visited our squadron and informed me that he was planning a flight in order to link up the forces in Palestine with the army in Mesopotamia. He invited me to join him. There was a further proposal, that after reaching Bagdad we should shape a route to India, "to see," as he jocularly remarked, "the Viceroy's Cup run in Cal cutta." "Then, after that," I replied, "let us fly on to Australia and see the Melbourne Cup," little thinking at the time that I should ever embark upon such a project. Just after the Armistice was signed, General Borton decided to start out in the Handley-Page for India. Major General Sir W. G. H. Salmond, K. C. M. G., C. B.. D. S. 0., commanding the Royal Air Force in the Middle East, would accompany us and carry out a tour of inspection. On November 29, 1918, we took our departure from Cairo, accompanied by my two air mechanics, Sergeant J. M. Bennett, A. F. M., M. S. M., and Ser geant W. H. Shiers, A. F. M., both of No. I Squadron. It took just three weeks to pioneer a route to India, where we ar rived, without mishap, on December 1o, 1918, scarcely a month after the signing of the Armistice. C~,yriht1Q1, yirr' i~ . * Copyright, 1921, by Sir Ross Smith.