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Screen Shot 2019 09 15 at 52308 PMJoin the Darwin City Brass Band on Sunday 22nd September at the Darwin Aviation Museum for a day of fun and discovery – and the unveiling of the Museum’s new permanent Great Air Race façade.

Alongside the museum’s civil and military aircraft, engines and relicts, chat to pilots who are flying in their ultralights for the day and explore the CareFlight and Royal Flying Doctor Service simulators. With Tiger Moth and Harvard flyovers, Australian Air Force Cadets drum marching displays, entertainment by the Darwin City Brass Band, food and much much more, this will truly be a celebration of aviation.

Entry to the event is free. A gold coin donation towards the Museum is welcome.

Great Air Race 1
The Celebration of Aviation is presented by the Darwin Aviation Museum as part of the Great Air Race Centenary program of events, supported by the Northern Territory Government.

On March 19, 1919, Acting Prime Minister William Watt announced that the Commonwealth Government would offer a prize of £10,000 (nearly one million dollars in today’s money) for the first successful journey by an Australian-crewed airplane from London to Darwin in under 30 days, in an event that came to be known as the Great Air Race.

The Race was the brain-child of Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who was in England for the negotiations of the conclusion of WWI. He flew on a plane from London to Paris, and was impressed by the potential that aviation technology offered to connect Australia more efficiently with the wider world. Mail could take months to travel from the Front Line of WWI to Australia, causing great distress for loved ones waiting for news.

Six crews took part in the race, but only two finished. Equipment failures, crash landings and even political misunderstandings led most teams to delay, and then abandon, their race. Tragically, two crews fatally crashed while attempting to complete the race. The Vimy’s 18,000 kilometre flight took 27 days 20 hours, a remarkable time considering it was made just 16 years after the Wright brothers flew the first ever powered aircraft.

In 1984, the head of Washington’s Smithsonian Institutes’ Air and Space Museum stated, “In the first fifty years of manned flight (1903-1953), there were ground breaking achievements from the likes of Louis Bleriot, John Alcock, Charles Kingsford-Smith, Charles Lindberg and others but it could be said, and should be said, that Ross Smith’s flight of 1919 was the greatest of them all”.

Learn more about the Great Air Race by exploring the collections of the Northern Territory Library and State Library of South Australia.

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