Kingsford Smith and the first trans-Pacific flight, 1928

People lined up along a Brisbane street to see Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, 1928. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 135100

On June 9, 1928, a massive crowd gathered at Eagle Farm Aerodrome to welcome and congratulate Brisbane born aviator Charles Kingsford Smith along with fellow Australian pilot Charles Ulm and two Americans, radio operator James Warner and navigator Harry Lyon, after completing the first trans-Pacific flight in their three-engined Fokker plane, the Southern Cross. Kingsford Smith and his crew left Oakland, California on May 31 and completed the flight in three stages, covering 11,585 kilometres.

Kingsford Smith's Southern Cross in the centre of a huge crowd when he landed at Brisbane after flying from San Francisco. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 61843

The Sunday Mail reported the enthusiasm of the Brisbane crowd as the Southern Cross came into sight at Eagle Farm -

"A lusty cheer rose from the great assemblage as the machine came overhead, hats were flung in the air, and scarves and newspapers were sent skywards as the monoplane, her escorts scattering to make way, lost ground rapidly. Her single wings, with the great body of blue and the number "1985" stood out boldly as the machine encircled the aerodrome, and made for the lower end of the field...Despite the presence of barriers, there was some crushing at this point, and the public's desire to get an early glimpse of the world flyers was not to be appeased by a few dozen police, for as with one accord the spectators gathered round with calls for "Smithy" and the other members".

The Sunday Mail article also details a moment when Kingsford Smith had a garland of roses placed around his neck by a politician's wife.

"There was a pleasant interlude as Mrs Sizer (wife of Mr H.F. Sizer, MLA, representing the State Opposition) placed a floral wreath of roses round Captain Kingford Smith's neck and whispered a short speech of welcome to his ear, and the gallant warrior, blushing somewhat at such a tribute, sought solace in a cigarette...".

Relaxed portrait of Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith on arrival in Brisbane in 1928 after his record breaking flight. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 68926

Illustrated front cover from The Queenslander, June 14, 1928. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 702692-19280614-s001b

In 1936, a plaque dedicated to the late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Captain T.P. Ulm and the first trans-Pacific flight was unveiled at Oakland Municipal Airport in California. Charles' wife Mary Kingsford Smith visited the memorial in August of 1937.

Brisbane Mayor, Sir John Chandler (right) inspecting Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's Memorial at Oakland Airport in California, 1947. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 193389

In 1958, the Oakland City Council celebrated the 30th anniversary of the flight by decreeing June 9 as "Southern Cross Day" in Oakland. Prior to the event a resolution scroll announcing the forthcoming day and bearing the Oakland City Council seal was presented to San Francisco Australian Consul General Melville Marshall by Oakland Mayor Clifford E. Rishell. Along with the council's seal, the resolution includes the signatures of the Mayor, Vice-Mayor and several council members. This original document is now part of State Library's original materials collection. The scroll acknowledges the construction of a "permanent shrine" (Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Memorial) at Brisbane Airport.

Resolution scroll for 'Southern Cross Day' by the Oakland City Council, 1958. From 3965 Charles Kingsford Smith Papers ca. 1920-1935. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

"This unprecedented flight from Oakland, California to Australia brought recognition and prestige to our city and laid the foundation for the strong bonds of friendship which we feel for our good neighbors "down under...", reads part of this document.

Greetings from the State of California - 30 anniversary of the first trans Pacific flight, 1958. From From 3965 Charles Kingsford Smith Papers ca. 1920-1935. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

State Library of Queensland also holds another document, possibly presented at the same time, which also acknowledges the historic flight and the upcoming opening of the Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Memorial. This document bears the seal of the Great State of California and the signature of Californian Secretary of State, Frank M. Jordan.

On August 17, 1958, the Charles Kingsford Smith Memorial at the Brisbane Airport was officially opened by Federal Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, in front of a crowd of 3,000 people. The two surviving crew members from the Southern Cross, James Warner and Harry Lyon were present at the opening. The memorial houses the Southern Cross plane.

Further State Library of Queensland collections related to the life of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith -

Further reading



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