Ballina connection with aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith

BALLINA claims a special connection with the historical Sir Charles Kingsford Smith flight across the Pacific Ocean.

It was the first trans-Pacific flight from the United States to Australia.

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith

That's because the crew were originally expected to be flying straight into Brisbane, where crowds of thousands were waiting.

Instead, they were blown off course by storms and bad weather during the final leg of the flight from Suva Fiji.

At the time there was little media coverage mentioning Ballina as the point where the aircraft first flew over the Australian coastline.

It wasn't until later that the town fully realised the significance of the event and decided to commemorate it by naming a major park and road Kingsford Smith and Southern Cross.

Sir Kingsford Smith and his crew of four left California on May 31, 1928.

The 3870km journey was broken into three stages from California to Hawaii, Hawaii to Fiji and Fiji to Brisbane. Southern Cross was expected in Brisbane about 8am.

The crowds had begun to gather in moonlight, as the aircraft was expected early.

"It was a truly memorable occasion," a journalist reported in the Richmond River Express on June 11, 1928.

"From before daylight people flocked towards the landing ground, and soon there was an endless procession of motor cars bound for the aerodrome."

With the Southern Cross failing to appear as scheduled, the crowds grew anxious. Just before 9am, a message from the fliers was received and it was announced the crew had reached the coast just south of Ballina and had turned north for Brisbane.

It was reported the 26,000 spectators held their restraint during the plane's approach but broke the barriers around the field and made a wild rush towards the Southern Cross once it landed.

The total flight distance was about 11,566km.

AVIATION’S GOLDEN BOY: Sir Charles Kingsford Smith with his Southern Cross plane, which he flew over Ballina during the first trans-Pacific flight from the United States to Australia in 1928.
AVIATION’S GOLDEN BOY: Sir Charles Kingsford Smith with his Southern Cross plane, which he flew over Ballina during the first trans-Pacific flight from the United States to Australia in 1928. Bitwings NATIONAL LIBRARY OF AUSTRALIA


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