MAY 31 1928. 70th Anniversary

Date:         16 Jun 98 02:15:20 
From:         "Donald Mc Lean" <cowboy@ram.net.au>
Organization: Mittagong Mania - http://www.mitmania.net.au
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Originally owned by Hubert Wilkins, world famous Australian arctic
explorer and navigator the Fokker F7 Tri-motor  monoplane had been found
unsuitable for arctic flying.

Kingsford-Smith who had arrived in the USA early in 1928 purchased it,
named it Southern Cross and immediately made an attempt on the world
non-refuelled endurance record. He stayed airborne for 50h 04min, just
2h 18min short of the record but while in the air conceived the idea of
flying from the USA to Australia in three hops, to HNL, Suva (FIJI) and
BNE (Aust).

With his co-pilot Charles Ulm they commenced to prepare the Fokker for
the long over water flight, fitting extra fuel tanks and  three new
Wright Whirlwind engines. These were purchased from the USN by Mr.
Sidney Myer, an Australian businessman visiting the USA. With additional
financial help from American businessman G. Alan Hancock the
preparations were completed. Two ex Navy men, neither of whom had flown
before, joined the two Aussies in what many considered a suicidal
mission. They were Harry Lyon as Navigator and James Warner as radio
Operator.

With weather clear the greatly overloaded aeroplane was coaxed into the
air at Oakland at 9am on Thurs. 31 st May 1928 and set heading at the
2400 miles of ocean to Honolulu. Warner tapped their call sign in morse,
KHAB, and hundreds of amateur radio operators tuned in on their wave
length.

Maintaining 4000ft at an IAS of 74 kts they flew into darkness,
reporting ops normal to the steamers Manoa, Wilhelmina and just after
midnight, the Malikio. They arrived over Wheeler's Field at 0930 HNL
time , escorted by a dozen Navy and Army Air Corps aeroplanes. The
flight time was 27h 27min. The Cross still had 130gal in the tanks.

Totally deaf from the roaring of the engines the fliers faced a huge
welcoming crowd. They were only the fourth aeroplane to make this flight
from the mainland.

A check revealed it in perfect condition and they planned to rest up and
depart on the next leg to Suva on Sunday 3rd June.  More about next leg
on 3rd.  cowboy@ram.net.au