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Famous Aircraft - The Southern Cross


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Guest Glenn

Southern Cross is the name of the Fokker F.VIIb/3m trimotor monoplane which in 1928 was flown by Australian aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and his crew in the first ever trans-Pacific flight, from the mainland United States of America to Australia.

 

The Southern Cross began life as the Detroiter, a polar exploration aircraft of the Detroit News-Wilkins Arctic expedition. The aircraft had crashed in Alaska in 1926, and was recovered and repaired by the Australian expedition leader, George Hubert Wilkins. Wilkins, who had decided the Fokker was too large for his Arctic explorations, met with Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm in San Francisco and arranged to sell them the aircraft, without engines or instruments.

 

Having fitted the aircraft out with engines and the other required parts, Kingsford Smith made two attempts at the world endurance record, in an attempt to raise funds and interest for his trans-Pacific flight. However, after the New South Wales government withdrew its sponsorship of the flight, it looked as if the money would run out and Kingsford Smith would have to sell the Southern Cross. The aircraft was bought by American aviator and philanthropist G. Allan Hancock, who then loaned it back to Kingsford Smith and Ulm.

 

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300px-Southern_cross.jpg.795b35e31fe99026c34cdc5a25257b7d.jpg

 

 

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Guest OzChris

what an amazing aircraft!

 

I love to stop at the glass hanger at Brisbane airport to observe this aircraft and soak up the history of it when ever I am there visiting my sister in QLD...quite awesome!

 

 

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Guest Chainsaw

Nice post.

 

My father actually flew with Smithy on the Southern Cross. Dad is 97 now and going disturbingly strong :) He is about to do another flying trip too!

 

 

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  • 12 years later...

A couple of photos have  surfaced of the Southern Cross at Hood Aerodrome in New Zealand c 1933. Credit to Br uce Aplin whose father took the photographs.

SC_WaiAeroClub.jpg

SC_Hood.jpg

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If beats me why the Southern Cross, arguably Australia’s most famous aircraft, is locked away in a glass case far from view. 
It should be an unmissable display at the centre of Brisbane Airport.

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Does the Original still exist?  I know they found bits of glass in one of the original oil tanks, when building the replica, verifying the story of the oil transfer in flight using a thermos flask. THAT aircraft was in poor condition when it had problems going from NZ to Australia. The exhaust system part detached and the propeller was then damaged on the RHS engine and the left one was using excess oil and would have failed if the extra oil hadn't been available. Pretty heroic work flying just above the waves.  Nev 

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Glad it still exists. Thanks for the Link  We have quite a few good aeroplanes under cover and looked after There's a version that was flying at HARS, being repaired after an accident when I was there about 2-3 years ago. Getting permission to take pax in these and even the CONNIE is difficult... Nev  

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What happened to the Replica you talk of Nev? Last I heard it was stored. The fellows that were flying it when the wheel fell off should have been given a kick up the arse. They held the wing as high as they could after it touched down on the remaining mainwheel. When the wing stalled it fell heavily and broke the spar. That machine would have landed about 45 knots, if they'd have let it down gently they mightn't have even taken any paint off!!

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It is not in the airport building, because the owners of the airport are only interested in what brings in money to them.

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On 09/01/2021 at 2:00 PM, Student Pilot said:

What happened to the Replica you talk of Nev? Last I heard it was stored.

The biggest problem with that repair was getting someone with the technical knowledge to oversee the spar repair. There are very few LAMEs in Australia who are licenced for wood. I also heard there was a bit of a case of too many chiefs and not enough indians at HARS. 

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I would imagine, that typical of so many organisations that rely on volunteers to carry out work, the pool of skilled volunteers at HARS would be declining, and advanced age and declining eyesight would prevent many from carrying out work that is strenuous for them, whereas that work is not so strenuous for a younger person.

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When I was there I got a tour, just me and the navigator/wife.so we got places that normally are not accessible. . Same happened in Queenstown. Simply lovely people there. HARS is Qantas, Nowra and the forces. A lot of money came from a Catholic  priest who left it in his will.  It's all a good thing but let's say I heard and felt reasons why you wouldn't need it if you seek a quiet life with minimum angst . Definitely worth a visit though. The DC 4/ C-54 seemed much smaller than I remember it. The aerodrome is the place I first flew a plane (about 1958) so it has an extra something for me as well..

    The Southern Cross replica has 3 "shaky Jakes" in it .They are reliable enough. I think Bill Whitney had a big hand in it's construction. He designed the Whitney Boomerang. Nev

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10 hours ago, facthunter said:

... I think Bill Whitney had a big hand in it's construction. He designed the Whitney Boomerang. Nev

Bill gave me lots of help with a project. He described how moving the CoG of this replica (or was it the Vimy?) forward 100mm made it much nicer to fly than the original.

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HARS is a fabulous museum. The Southern Cross replica must be all but completed by now. The place is staffed mainly by enthusiastic volunteers who, going by my experience, are as generous with time and knowledge as you'd like. Having such a comprehensive collection within reach of most on the Eastern seaboard is a winner.

I think that the siting of the original Southern Cross in a somewhat distant and uninspiring building kilometers from either the domestic and international terminals is disgraceful and I started a thread on the topic here some years ago. Lindberg acknowledged that the trans-Pacific crossing by Kingsford-Smith et al was a greater feat than his Atlantic crossing. The Spirit holds pride of place in the Smithsonian in Washington whilst the old bus is existing, Cinderella like, in a shabby warehouse. Shame!

Edited by Methusala
correction
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