6 Nov 1935 - Charles Kingsford Smith flight

#OnThisDay 6 November 1935 Charles Kingsford Smith took off in his plane, the Lady Southern Cross, from Britain in a record breaking attempt to fly to Australia. Kingsford Smith, his co-pilot J.T. Pethybridge and the plane were never seen again. The plane is believed to have crashed off the coast of Burma.

Missing Aviator

If you can give any information…which will help to find them you will receive a large reward of money.

By the early 1930s, Charles Kingsford Smith had achieved international fame for his exploits in long-distance flight, and had been knighted for his contribution to the development of the Australian aviation industry. 

In 1935 (at age 38) he was not in the best of health; but was keen to go on demonstrating that the future of world transport was in aviation. He arranged for the plane Lady Southern Cross to be shipped to England. From there, with co-pilot J. T. Pethybridge, he took off on 6 November 1935, aiming to make one more record-breaking flight to Australia. It was not to be – the plane and both airmen were lost; believed to have crashed into the sea somewhere off the coast of Burma while flying at night towards Singapore.

The report from the Air Commodore of the Royal Air Force, Far East shows that every effort was made to locate the famous missing aviator and his plane, including offering a reward to any ‘natives’ that could provide useful information. The inclusion of these papers in the Probate records is likely to be due to the need to have a sound basis for the assumption that a missing person was actually dead (thus facilitating the granting of probate).
Kingsford Smith was survived by his wife and son and left an estate valued for probate at £12,875.

This content was first published in our 50th Anniversary Gallery

From the Collection

This content is maintained by Engagement & Access Service (EAS). If you have any queries or feedback about this content please contact EAS.