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Death of Sir Ross Smith and James Bennett

13 April, 1922

Sir Ross Smith and his loyal friend and mechanic Jim Bennett were killed while test flying a Vickers Viking amphibious aircraft at Weybridge in England, ahead of a planned attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Sir Keith Smith was due to join the men for the test flight, but was late travelling on a train down from London and arrived to witness the Viking spiralling out of the sky. Both men were killed within minutes of the crash, and within a mile of where their triumphant flight from England to Australia had begun less than three years earlier. The accident was ruled death by misadventure. The image top left shows Sir Ross Smith with the Vickers Viking in the factory at Weybridge. [SLSA PRG 18/13/3]

The wreck of the Vickers Viking near Weybridge, UK. Image courtesy of the South Australian Aviation Museum archives.