Hidden Treasure

G-EAOU (affectionately said to stand for ‘Gawd ‘Elp All Of Us, by its crew) is the original Vickers Vimy that was flown from England to Australia in 1919. 

In an age when London – Paris was considered a long distance flight, demobbed Australian Flying Corp pilots Keith and Ross Smith, along with Aircraft Mechanics Jim Bennett and Wally Shiers, completed a journey of 11,060 miles in 27 days.

The flight 

Landing at new municipal airfields, RAF stations, a clearing hacked from raw jungle, and even a muddy racecourse in Singapore, their odyssey took them from Hounslow through France, Italy, Crete, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Persia, India, Burma, Siam, Malaya, Singapore and the Dutch East Indies to Darwin. They then flew on down the East Coast of Australia and across to Adelaide. 

It wasn’t quite the equivalent of flying to the moon but, for the time, came remarkably close to paddling a bathtub across the Atlantic. Naturally the foursome received a hero’s welcome in Australia, and claimed a £10,000 prize for the flight. Keith and Ross Smith were both honoured with knighthoods. 

The aircraft

G-EAOU was built for the RAF as a Vickers F.B.27A ‘Vimy IV’, with two 360hp Rolls Royce Eagle VIII engines, but was delivered too late to see action in the Great War. Vickers added extra tankage for her flight across the world. (As an amazing aside, it’s believed that the starboard radiator was reclaimed from the Vimy that was flown across the Atlantic by Alcock and Brown. A well-travelled piece of equipment!) 

The aircraft now stands in a specially built, fully enclosed shelter at Adelaide Airport. Although well protected, changes related to the opening of a new terminal building in 2006 mean this piece of aviation history now stands all but forgotten in a staff car park. 

Your input

These photos have been taken to launch a ‘Local Attraction, Global Treasure’ column in airscape magazine. If you know of any unique pieces of aviation history that have fallen off the tourist trails, I’d love to hear about them for the magazine. I have access to lots of Anglo-Western resources, so input from Europe and other parts of the world would be highly valued.

You can contact me via http://airscapemag.wordpress.com

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