First Trans-Tasman flight

Today marks the day of the first Trans-Tasman flight in 1928 by Australian pilots Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm who made the 11 hour crossing in a Fokker tri-motor named the Southern Cross, covering 2670 km in 14 hours 25 minutes.

New Zealander T.H. McWilliams, a teacher at a radio school in Wellington, had joined the crew as radio operator. Though the flight had been postponed for a week due to bad weather over the Tasman, they hit thunderstorms during the crossing. Kingsford Smith was forced to fly blind for much of the journey as heavy rain or ice coated the windshield.

As they neared New Zealand the weather improved, and after circling over Wellington, the Southern Cross landed at Wigram Aerodrome, Christchurch at 9.22 a.m. (New Zealand time).

Around 30,000 people were there to receive them, including many pupils from state schools, who were given the day off, and public servants.

TravelNZFirst Trans-Tasman flight