Charles Kingsford Smith
Sir Charles Edward Kingsford Smith (February 9, 1897 - November 8, 1935) was a famous Australian airplane pilot. He is famous for being the first person to fly across the Pacific Ocean from the United States to Australia. He was also the first person to fly non-stop across the entire country of Australia. He made the first flight from Australia to New Zealand. In another famous flight, he flew from Australia to London, England, in ten and a half days, which was a new record at that time.
Smith was born on February 9, 1897, in Hamilton, Brisbane (the capital city of Queensland, a state in Australia). He went to school at St. Andrew’s Cathedral Choir School and Sydney Technical High School. When he turned 16, Smith became an apprentice at Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd., where he got training in engineering.
In 1915, Smith joined the 1st Australian Imperial Force (AIF), the main branch of the Australian Army that fought outside of Australia in World War I. In the AIF he was a sapper (someone who builds and repairs roads and bridges) and a motorcycle dispatch rider (someone who delivers important messages). In 1916 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), where he became a pilot and a second lieutenant.
In 1917, Smith's plane was shot down during battle. He survived, but was injured and had to have part of his left foot amputated (removed by surgery). He received the Military Cross for his bravery in battle. Because of his injuries, Smith was made an RFC flying teacher. He was also promoted to Captain. In April of 1918, Smith was assigned to the Royal Air Force, which had just been created.
After finishing his military service in 1919, Smith created Kingsford Smith, Maddocks Aeros Ltd., flying a joy-riding service (which sold plane rides to customers for entertainment). He flew mostly in the North of England. Later, he worked in the United States as a barnstormer, entertaining people by doing tricks in his airplane. In 1921, he returned to Australia. There he kept working as a barnstormer and also flew airmail services (he delivered mail by airplane).
On June 2, 1921, Smith applied for a commercial pilot’s license. He became one of Australia’s first airline pilots after he was hired to fly for the newly created West Australian Airways.
On June 6, 1923, Smith married Thelma Eileen Hope Corboy.
Smith became famous for setting flying records. He was very famous for all of his flights around the world. His famous flights included:
- Flying around Australia in 10 days and 5 hours in 1926 with C T P Ulm. This was twice as fast as any other pilot had ever taken to fly around Australia.
- Flying over the Pacific Ocean with a team of three other people. The team started the first part of their journey in California and landed in Hawaii. Next they flew from Hawaii to Fiji. This part of the trip was the hardest because of very bad storms. Finally, they flew from Fiji to Brisbane. When they landed in Brisbane, there were 25,000 people to greet Smith and his team. After that they flew to Sydney, where 300,000 people greeted them.
- Completing the first-ever flight around the world. Smith and his team flew to England; then across the Atlantic to North America; then to California.
- Flying 10,000 miles by himself.
The same year as his 10,000-mile flight, Smith married Mary Powell. Together they had a son called Charles.
In 1935, Smith and a co-pilot, Tommy Pethybridge, left from England to fly to Australia. This was Smith's last flight. He died on November 8, 1935.
- ‘Charles Kingsford Smith’, http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/charles-kingsford-smith