100 years since Vickers Vimy flown by Sir Ross Smith lands in Narromine

Three aircraft have flown into Narromine to celebrate 100 years since the arrival of the Vickers Vimy flown by Sir Ross Smiths' crew from England to Australia.

On March 14 the aircraft's landed at the Narromine aerodrome to commemorate the milestone in aviation history when the twin-engine bomber landed in Frank Mack's field in 1920.

It was a world first during the Great Air Race from England to Australia, and the field in Narromine was selected as a refuelling stop on the Darwin to Melbourne air route.

Curator at the Narromine Aviation Museum Michael Nelmes said the re-enactment in Narromine came a month after the centenary, as the aircraft were scheduled to reach Adelaide on March 23, one hundred years since the Vimy's arrival there.


The lead pilot in the re-enactment was Michael Smith, who was named Australian Geographic's Adventurer of the Year for 2014 for circumnavigating the world.

"Michael's state-of-the-art aircraft is a far cry from Sir Ross' wood-and-canvas biplane: it is a sleek, Russian-made Chaika SeaBear amphibian," Mr Nelmes said.

He was joined in the SeaBear by his co-pilot, Qantas instructor Tony Coleiro, and the event coordinator Tom Lockley of the Aviation Historical Society of Australia.

Two other pilots Michael Cates joined them in a Pipistrel SW ultralight, and Louise Humble from the Ballarat Aero Club joined them in her Australian Jabiru ultralight.

The five aviators stayed two nights and were treated to dinner at the gliding club courtesy of Beryl and Arnie Hartley.

On Saturday, Mr Smith delivered a presentation at the museum about his journey, and Mr Nelmes gave a museum tour and talk on the Great Air Race.

Following this they visited commemorative rock cairn near the golf club house.

The cairn had been laid for the 50th anniversary on February 13, 1970, officiated by WWII fighter ace group captain John Waddy.

"This was a very significant occasion for Narromine," Mr Nelmes said.

"The arrival of Ross Smith's Vickers Vimy on February 13, 1920 put our town on the air route from London to Melbourne, and therefore on the world aviation map.

"His crew's journey really sparked the world air travel business that we now take for granted."

The aviators departed on the Monday headed for Albion Park on the coast, and ultimately for Melbourne and Adelaide.

  • Due to COVID-19, to protect visitors and the volunteers the Narromine Aviation Museum will be closed until further notice.