Back to the Timeline


04 December, 1919

Ross Smith spent his 27th birthday flying over paddy fields, scattered villages and coastline from Singora to Singapore. The 480-mile flight ended with an innovative landing… “I had been dreading the landing and take-off at Singapore, as the improvised aerodrome, the racecourse, was altogether too small for our large machine,” Ross later wrote. “I glided the Vimy down at as low a speed as possible, and just before we touched the ground Bennett clambered out of the cockpit and slid along the top of the fuselage down to the tail-plane. His weight dropped the tail down quickly, with the result that the machine pulled up in about one hundred yards after touching the ground.”

The Singapore Straits Times covered the arrival in great detail. Click here to read the digitised 5 December 1919 edition:…/Article/straitstimes1919120…

Cedic Howell and George Fraser. Image first published in Britain’s Flight magazine.

Meanwhile back in England, the Great Air Race finally began for Adelaide-born Cedric Howell and his mechanic George Fraser (pictured) in their Martinsyde A1. Cedric Howell had embarked with the 16th Reinforcements for the 14th Battalion in 1916, before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps and serving the final year of the War in the skies over Italy. He won three gallantry awards and developed a fierce reputation for entering dogfights severely outmanned. One citation reads that in company with just one other machine, he took on an enemy formation of 15 aeroplanes and succeeded in destroying four of them and bringing one down out of control. The image top left shows the Vimy in Singapore and is published courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. PRG 18/7/24.