In 1919 brothers Ross and Keith Smith, with mechanics James Bennett and Wally Shiers, were the first Australians to fly a British aircraft from Great Britain to Australia. They piloted this converted Vickers Vimy twin-engine bomber G-EAOU (affectionately known as ‘God ‘Elp All Of Us’) from England to Darwin.
They took off from Houndslow Heath at 8am on 12 November 1919 and landed in Darwin at 4.10pm on 10 December 1919.
In all, they had covered an estimated distance of 17,911 km in 135 hours and 55 minutes. They were met by Prime Minister Billy Hughes. The crew were able to claim the prize of 10,000 pounds offered by the Australian Government for the first Australians to fly from Britain to Australia.
The Vickers Vimy aircraft was developed in the latter stages of the First World War to equip the Royal Flying Corps. It was completed too late to be used in active combat, but formed the main heavy bomber force of the Royal Air Force throughout the 1920s.
The G-EAOU is preserved in a museum in the Smiths’ hometown of Adelaide.