Flags (7), cotton / silk, makers unknown, donated by Charles Kingsford Smith to Sydney Hospital, New South Wales, Australia, 1929
These seven flags accompanied aviators Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm aboard the aircraft "The Southern Cross" during its historic first Trans Tasman flight in 1928. The following year three of these flags accompanied Kingsford-Smith and Ulm on the first circumnavigation of the globe, crossing both hemispheres.
During the historic flights that Kingsford-Smith and Ulm made in 1928 and 1929 they carried 3 boxes, each containing an Australian flag, a New Zealand flag, a Union Jack, and a RAF flag. One box was left in New Zealand, one in England and one returned to Sydney. The box that returned to Sydney was donated by the aviators to Sydney Hospital to be used for fundraising purposes. A few years later the box of flags that had been left in England was returned to Australia and also donated to the Hospital (minus the RAF flag from that set). The box of flags left in New Zealand has never been located.
The story of the flags is a little known aspect of the charitable support given to hospitals by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm. It is unclear if the seven flags in the Powerhouse Museum's collection were ever used for such purposes.The flags are of national significance for their association with two of Australia's most famous aviators.
These are 7 out of 12 flags that flew with Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm on the first Trans Tasman flight aboard the "Southern Cross". The original 12 flags were divided into three boxes containing four flags each - the Australian, New Zealand and British flags and the RAF flag.
The "Southern Cross" departed Richmond RAF base, NSW on September 10th, 1928 and landed at Christchurch the following day after a flight of 2600 km, which took 14 hours.
One box of flags was left in New Zealand to allow fund raising, and the remaining two boxes returned to Australia. The "Southern Cross" departed Blenheim, New Zealand on October 8th and landed at Richmond after a 3200 km flight in appalling weather. The return flight took 23.5 hours.
On June 25th 1929 Kingsford-Smith and Ulm left Richmond in the "Southern Cross" to fly to Croydon airport, London, where they arrived on July 8th. The flight was achieved in the record time of 12 days 18 hours. The aviators left the third box of flags with the English authorities for fundraising purposes. The journey continued across the Atlantic Ocean, with the flight departing Portmarnock Beach, Ireland on June 23rd and reaching Harbour Grace, Newfoundland 31.5 hours later.
Kingsford-Smith completed this part of the journey at New York to make it the first ever London-New York flight. He then flew the "Southern Cross", containing the last box of flags, to San Francisco completing the first circumnavigation of the globe over both northern and southern hemispheres.
On his return to Sydney the last box of flags was donated to Sydney Hospital for fund raising purposes (supposedly to raise funds for the hospital, which appears never to have eventuated).
The New Zealand box of flags has never been located but the English box was later returned to Australia and to Sydney Hospital (without the RAF flag) making up the seven individual flags that were donated to the Powerhouse Museum in 2011.