Thursday, November 16, 2017

Air Service To Australia?

Outback Australia, Flinders Ranges

Over the weekend, I watched the finale of the third season of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.  I enjoyed it tremendously as I love watching period shows.  If you haven't seen it, Miss Fisher helps the police solve mysteries in Australia back in the late 1920's.  Her wardrobe is absolutely delicious.

In the final episode, her father has missed the ship to Southampton and if he does not get off the boat, his wife will ask for a permanent separation.  So after determining her father really loves her mother, she tells him, they'll fly back to the UK.

At that statement, my mind immediately questioned the ability of them to fly to the United Kingdom in 1929.  At the end, they were shown getting into those old two seater planes as if they'd fly all the way across Asia and the Middle East.  I don't think those planes could go that far without a bunch of gas stations along the way.

The first air flight took place in 1910 with none other than Harry Houdini the famous magician as its pilot. He flew a biplane near Sydney.  Two years later the Australian Flying Corps made its appearance and the military now had its flying service. The squadrons flew various missions during World War I in both local areas and in Europe.  By 1921, Australia had its own Royal Australian Air Force but it was like a step child because neither the Army or Navy felt there should be an independent Air Force.

In the mean time, the Government offered a prize to the first aviators who successfully made it from Australia to England in under 30 days.  Two pilots succeeded in 1919 but one died shortly there after in an air crash, never getting a chance to enjoy the money.  Just 9 years later a pilot made it from England to Australia in 15 days and was given 2000 pounds for his effort.

At this same time, Qantas (Queensland and Northern Territory air service) began local service in 1920.  Over the next few years, routes expanded both in and out of Australia until they established service all the way to the UK via Singapore.  For this particular route, they used Short Class C flying boats and changed out crews in Singapore.

As time progressed, air service soon covered all of Australia.  Based on the bit I read about small planes flying to the UK in the late teens and early twenties, it was possible for Miss Fisher and her father to fly the distance but it would have taken about 15 days to do it and it was definitely faster than a ship.

I hope you enjoyed the short history lesson. I love researching things so I can find out if certain plot points in television shows is true or just a figment of some scriptwriters imagination.  Let me know what you think.  I hope you have a great weekend.

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