A 1958 radio documentary recalling the first trans-Tasman flight which departed Sydney on September 10, 1928 and touched down in Christchurch on September 11, 1928. Produced by 1YA, Auckland.
The mystery disappearance early in 1928 of the first attempted trans-Tasman flight by John Moncrieff and George Hood is recalled. Following this, Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm were still determined it could be done. In July 1927 they went to American and bought a plane, the Southern Cross. On May 31st 1928 they departed the United States for Australia on a trans-Pacific flight.
Excerpt of an archival recording of Kingsford-Smith and Ulm departing the United States.
A later recording of Kingsford-Smith and Ulm talking about conditions during that flight is heard.
Wireless operator T.H. McWilliams describes the cramped conditions on the trans-Pacific flight, including how the men communicated onboard above the noise of the engines, by passing notes.
H.A. Litchfield, the navigator, explains how they navigated.
A flight across Australia in August was also completed but the trans-Tasman flight was delayed by bad weather. Mr G.N. Wells, an engineer with Kingsford-Smith describes the departure from Richmond Aerodrome, with Christchurch as the destination. Mr McWilliams describes the take-off and how they navigated through a bad electrical storm, which terrified them and their radio transmitters were knocked out.
Mr Litchfield describes seeing the first land of New Zealand, the Sounds just to the south of Cape Farewell.
Broadcaster Clive Drummond who was working at 2YA in Wellington that night recalls finally picking up Morse transmissions from the Southern Cross as it approached New Zealand. 1YA broadcaster Dudley Wrathall also recalls the tremendous excitement as radio dealers kept their shops open so the public could hear the broadcasts. At about 4.30 in the morning the plane began transmitting again and sighted land at about 6.30am.
3YA broadcasters were at Sockburn [Wigram] Aerodrome to broadcast the arrival of the Southern Cross. A re-creation of the landing is heard. Two Bristol freighters took off to accompany the Southern Cross. Thousands of people turned out to greet the plane.
In the crush after the landing, the crew became separated. Mr Clarence Victor, the driver of a furniture van , recalls how he picked up Mr Litchfield the navigator after he lost Kingsford-Smith and Ulm.
Bessie Pollard, who was in the crowd that morning, describes the excitement of waiting for the plane. Baxter O'Neill, a Christchurch journalist describes the five thousand cars at the aerodrome, a huge number for 1928. The crowd turned into a mob once the plane touched down and it was impossible for journalists to get a proper interview with them. Mack Vincent, another journalist says he was astonished at the size of the Southern Cross and describes how "Smithie" was natural showman with a crowd. Mr McWilliams describes being swallowed up by the vast crowd.