Remembering the first trans-Pacific flight 90 years ago

At 10.50am on Saturday 9 June 2018, ATSB Chief Commissioner, Greg Hood, along with more than 90 other passengers landed at Brisbane Airport on board a specially painted Alliance Airlines’ Fokker 100, VH-FGB.

90th anniversary of trans-Pacific first flight

Their touchdown was exactly 90 years to the minute when Fokker F.VIIb/3m, called Southern Cross, and its four crew completed the first trans-Pacific flight from the USA to Australia.

As the historic records show, Charles Kingsford-Smith, the pilot-in-command of the Southern Cross, along with his co-pilot Charles Ulm, navigator Captain Harry Lyon and radio operator James Warner, took off from Oakland, California at 8.53am on 31 May, 1928 bound for their first stop in Hawaii. The tri-motor Southern Cross landed at Honolulu at 9.49am on 2 June and departed the following day at 5.20am on its second leg bound for Suva, Fiji.

Airborne for a staggering 34 and half hours, the Southern Cross landed in Suva’s Albert Park at 2.21pm on 4 June after flying around 5,000 kilometres.

After three days on the island, the Southern Cross left Fiji on its last leg to Brisbane at 2.52pm on 8 June, some 2,400 kilometres to the east.

Around eight and a half days after leaving Oakland, including over 83 hours in the air and covering about 11,670 kilometres, the Southern Cross landed at Brisbane’s Eagle Farm Airport at 10.50am on 9 June 1928, where they were welcomed by over 15,000 people.

“I am greatly honoured to have been on board for this significant historical flight,” Mr Hood said. “Today, we also flew in a Fokker, in the comfort and with the safety that ‘Smithy’, Ulm, Lyon and Warner would only have dreamed of 90 years ago. Their feat of safely completing the first trans-Pacific flight, set the bar high for aviation safety in Australia.”

Alliance Airlines, now the largest operator of Fokker aircraft in the world, is based at Brisbane Airport, not far from where the Southern Cross touched down 90 years ago.

“I would like to thank Alliance Airlines’ Chairman Steve Padgett for inviting the ATSB to be a part of the celebrations to mark a significant event in Australian aviation’s history,” Mr Hood said. “The ATSB is keen to see important events and achievements in aviation and other modes of transport maintained and acknowledged. In fact, we are currently preparing a number of historical air accident items that we have in our possession to be displayed prominently in the reception area of our Canberra head office.”

The original Southern Cross is on display in a special memorial near Brisbane Airport’s international terminal.


Last update 09 June 2018