Italian aviator visits Brisbane during long distance flight (1925)

On August 6, 1925, Brisbane awaited the arrival of Italian aviator Marchese Francesco de Pinedo, chief of staff of the Italian Air Force. Accompanying de Pinedo was engineer Ernesto Campanelli. The pair had left Rome on April 1, their objective a long-distance flight of 55,000 kilometres to Australia and Japan before returning to Italy. The journey was undertaken by seaplane.

Seaplane Savoia Marchetti on the Brisbane River, August 1925. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 62423

Seaplane Savoia Marchetti on the Brisbane River, August 1925. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 62423

On May 31, they arrived in Broome, Western Australia, proceeding on to Carnarvon, Perth, Albany and Adelaide.

The plane was overhauled in Melbourne, and engine problems delayed it further in Sydney. On arrival in Queensland, the plane landed on Brisbane River.

General De Pinedos Savoia Marchetti seaplane landing on the Brisbane River in 1925. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 157829

General De Pinedos Savoia Marchetti seaplane landing on the Brisbane River in 1925. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 157829

Among those welcoming de Pinedo and Campanelli was the Archbishop of Brisbane, Sir James Duhig, who greeted the men in Italian: "The arrival of so intrepid an aviator and so patriotic a son of Italy as you are is for us who love the clear skies and the historic earth of that renowned country an event that brings immense glory to our hearts," was the translation.

Savoia Marchetti seaplane in the Brisbane River, 1925. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 65540

Savoia Marchetti seaplane in the Brisbane River, 1925. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 65540

From Brisbane, de Pinedo flew up the coast of Queensland, stopping at Rockhampton, Townsville, Innisfail, Cooktown and Thursday Island. On departing Brisbane, the seaplane unfortunately collided with the Charlotte St ferry, and in Rockhampton it bumped into a dinghy on Fitzroy River.

Arriving back in Rome on November 7, de Pinedo and Campanelli were given a heroes' welcome. The Brisbane Courier reported: "The Prime Minister (Signor Mussolini) ... embraced de Pinedo, and invited him into his motor car. They drove, amidst an enormous crowd, cheering and throwing bouquets, to the Chigi Palace."

Myles Sinnamon - Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

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