Flying Officer Frank Briggs, adventurer Francis Birtles and engineer Alfred Bailey piloted a de Havilland-4 from Port Melbourne in central Australia, landing at Alice Springs on October 5, 1921.
- The de Havilland-4 flew from Port Melbourne to Alice Springs in 10 days.
- 100 years later, the Central Australian Aviation Museum celebrated the historic flight
- Organizer Franca Frederiksen says she is thrilled that so many young people attended
The trip, which today would take less than three hours, spanned 10 days, with the crew making several stops to refuel along the way.
They then had to wait weeks in Alice Springs for fuel to arrive by the camel train needed to make the return trip.
In a diary kept during the trip, Lt. Briggs wrote that entire populations from the towns they stopped in would come out to greet them and see them depart, as the progress of their journey was communicated along the route. telegraph line on the road.
“Great interest was shown in our flight,” he wrote on September 30, 1921.
History comes to life
One hundred years later, Lt. Briggs’ historic flight still attracted keen interest, with aviation enthusiasts of all ages celebrating the centenary of the first plane landing in Alice Springs.
“I am so excited because we had such a good turnout. A lot of people here are very young,” said the organizer of the centenary celebrations at the Central Australian Aviation Museum, Franca Frederiksen.
“Everyone is excited and beaming.”
Ms Frederiksen said the first flight to Alice Springs proved to other pilots that the journey to the arid and remote heart of the country was possible.
In 1939, EJ (Eddie) Connellan established Alice Springs’ first airfield – now a museum – just up the road from where Lt. Briggs and his companion had landed their plane years earlier.
Connellan Airways operated an air mail delivery service and contracted out to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, flying over large swathes of the continent.
“We all have to understand our history to understand where we are going next,” said Ms Frederiksen.
“It is really important that we involve young people in our story, and that is exactly what is happening.”
Aircraft observers of all ages
The crowd who attended the centennial celebrations in Alice Springs were treated to a two-plane flyby show, followed by a re-enactment of the arrival of Lt. Briggs, Francis Birtles and George Bailey in the city.
Alice Springs Gliding Club members Tom Bird and Jim Thomas have been flying for decades.
Mr Bird’s grandmother, mother and uncle were part of the reception who met Lt. Briggs and his crew in 1921.
Mr. Thomas was an airport inspector and flight instructor and flew to Uluru for the opening of a new airstrip in 1982.
“We had a radio failure on the way out and left anyway. When we got there it must have been a bit of a surprise because no one knew where we were.”
“It’s really important that people recognize the contribution people have made to the land.
“At that time, it was not like today.”