Those of us who grow up in the United States tend to get taught a largely American-centric view of world history. Not to say that is bad or that the same thing doesn’t happen elsewhere, but given our diverse, melting pot populace, one sometimes wishes more of a global perspective could be provided. Enter Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Australia to give a perspective on global aviation history from Down Under.
I could safely say that the vast majority of Americans have never remotely heard of him, unless they have flown through Sydney’s airport, so aptly named for this engaging and bold Aussie aviator. Yes, we have the Wright Brothers, we have Charles Lindbergh, and we have Amelia Earhart, but Australia has Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, the pilot who with his crew (Co-Pilot, Navigator, and Radio Operator) conquered the Pacific Ocean aboard the Southern Cross barely a year after Lindbergh’s immortal flight in 1927.
One can argue which flight was more impressive. Lindbergh’s aboard the Spirit of St. Louis was certainly monumental, was flown 3,600 miles solo without a radio, and took place earlier. But conquering that vast expanse of turbulent waters of the Pacific Ocean where the tiniest specks of Earth poke out only every so often to provide measured relief presents a greater geographical, spatial, mechanical, structural, psychological, endurance, and navigational challenge over a total distance of 7,187 miles.
All of this is presented in interesting and eloquent fashion in the book entitled Charles Kingsford Smith and Those Magnificent Men by author Peter FitzSimons. The book has joined the pantheon of my favorite non-fiction reads. The reader literally feels they are aboard this flight and many others documented by this enthralling book. I do wish someone would take the time and effort to expertly chronicle this momentous event in a major motion picture. Fellow Aussie Hugh Jackman would be terrific as Sir Charles. This story really needs to be told to a worldwide audience on the big screen.
If you want to learn more about global aviation history, I highly recommend this book, as it details the progression of air flight in its infancy, formative, and through its growth years. It is definitely a book you will find hard to put down and will enjoy reading over and over again. Well done, Sir Charles and Mr. FitzSimons!