Thursday, August 4, 2016

First mail flight in Queensland in 1919

Queenslander (Brisbane), Saturday 27 September 1919, page 36



General regret will be felt at the fact that the aeroplane flight from Brisbane to the North in connection with the peace Loan, which was commenced most auspiciously by Flight-Commander Smith on September 17, ended in disaster at Gympie when, just as the northern flight was to be resumed, the machine collided with a tail tree and was wrecked, the occupants, owing to the skill of the pilot, fortunately escaping injury. Flight-Commander Smith left Lytton at 10 a.m., accompanied by Mr. J. J. Knight (chairman of directors of the Brisbane Newspaper Company, Ltd.), who delivered Peace Loan speeches at Nambour and Gympie, relating some of his experiences in Europe, where he represented Queensland on the Imperial Press Delegation.


NAMBOUR, September 17. The aeroplane arrived over the Nambour Show Grounds at 11.10, but considerable) difficulty was experienced in landing. The Nambour Show Ground, a pretty spot, which had been marked by a smoke fire and a large cross chalked on the ground, appeared to fit the bill, but it is fringed with trees, some of great height, and although a picturesque adjunct to the ground, these are against the aviator. Flight-Commander Smith circled over the town, and then proceeded to Rosemount, and apparently at first thought it possible to land, but with the quick perception marking the experienced airman he just as quickly made up his mind that it could not be done, and sought to rise. With a low power machine, such as he controlled, this is not done so easily, but he managed to skirt around, and ultimately made an effective landing in Mr. William Harwood's paddock at Burnside. The ground was clear of trees, but was very bumpy; nevertheless, he made a splendid landing. A large number of residents on foot and in carts, cars, and other vehicles had assembled at the show grounds, and it was some time ere they realised that the visitors were awaiting them. Then they quickly flocked to the aviators, who were given a most cordial reception. The visitors having been officially welcomed, Mr. J. J. Knight addressed the gathering, urging the people to do their duty in regard to the Peace Loan. - The local "Courier" agents each received a small parcel of "Couriers," which were eagerly sought after as souvenirs, and Councillor Lowe and Mr. L. H. Collins each received letters from the chief organiser of the Peace Loan (Mr. G. M. Dash). The aeroplane left again at 12.15 amidst the cheers of the crowds.

GYMPIE, September 17. The trip over the mountains was successful, but naturally cold, and at times a little bumpy Flight-Commander Smith, however, handled his machine with remarkable skill, and just before 1 p.m. the aviators were over Gympie, where all vantage points were occupied by citizens and school children. He made a splendid landing amidst the applause of the crowd assembled on the snow ground. As at Nambour, there was just room to get on to the ground, which is surrounded by forest giants The mayor (Alderman H. Sedgman) and other prominent citizens and district residents welcomed thee visitors, who were cheered as they descended from the aeroplane. The Mayor expressed the feelings of the people and called on Mr. Knight, who delivered a short address on the Peace Loan, his remarks being punctuated by applause, especially when he referred to the fact that Gympie had saved Queensland in the early days, and he appealed to the people of Gympie to give other cities a lead in saving the loan from being collected by compulsion.

Flight-Commander Smith's achievements at the Front and in the air were referred to by the mayor, and the aviator mounted his machine, and, having acknowledged the compliment paid him, appealed for contributions to the loan. In less than half an hour £9000 was subscribed, the Flight-Commander conducting the canvas with enthusiasm.

A further appeal was made at the Olympic Pictures to-night by the chairman of the local committee (Alderman Sedgman) supported by Mr. Knight and Flight-Commander Smith who were given a great reception. In response to the appeal £2750 was received. Flight-Commander Smith M.C., D.F.0., Mr. J. J, Knight and Air Mechanic Campbell returned from Brisbane to Gympie the next day. The aeroplane, which was conveyed to Brisbane in sections, will be dispatched to Melbourne by the first steamer for repairs.