The Info List - MacRobertson Air Race

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The MacRobertson Trophy Air Race (also known as the London to Melbourne
Air Race) took place October, 1934 as part of the Melbourne Centenary celebrations. The idea of the race was devised by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, and prize money of £15,000 was provided by Sir Macpherson Robertson, a wealthy Australian confectionery manufacturer, on the conditions that the race be named after his MacRobertson confectionery company, and that it be organised to be as safe as possible. The race was organised by the Royal Aero Club, and would run from RAF Mildenhall in East Anglia
East Anglia
to Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne, approximately 11,300 miles (18,200 km). There were five compulsory stops at Baghdad, Allahabad, Singapore, Darwin and Charleville, Queensland; otherwise the competitors could choose their own routes. A further 22 optional stops were provided with stocks of fuel and oil by Shell and Stanavo. The Royal Aero Club
Royal Aero Club
put some effort into persuading the countries along the route to improve the facilities at the stopping points.

MacRobertson Air Race
MacRobertson Air Race
poster, 1934

The basic rules were: no limit to the size of aircraft or power, no limit to crew size, no pilot to join aircraft after it left England. Aircraft must carry three days' rations per crew member, floats, smoke signals and efficient instruments. There were prizes for the outright fastest aircraft, and for the best performance on a handicap formula by any aircraft finishing within 16 days. Take off date was set at dawn (6:30), 20 October 1934. By then, the initial field of over 60 had been whittled down to 20, including three purpose-built de Havilland DH.88 Comet racers, two of the new generation of American all-metal passenger transports, and a mixture of earlier racers, light transports and old bombers. First off the line, watched by a crowd of 60,000, were Jim and Amy Mollison in the Comet Black Magic, and they were early leaders in the race until forced to retire at Allahabad
with engine trouble. This left the scarlet Comet Grosvenor House, flown by Flight Lt. C. W. A. Scott and Captain Tom Campbell Black, well ahead of the field. This racer went on to win in a time of less than 3 days, despite flying the last stage with one engine throttled back because of an oil-pressure indicator giving a faulty low reading. It would have won the handicap prize as well, were it not for a race rule that no aircraft could win more than one prize.

Play media

Movietone newsreels coverage of the race 1934. Including Scott's speech.

Replica of the KLM
DC-2 PH-AJU Uiver (At present one of only two flying DC-2's in the world)

Perhaps more significantly in the development of popular long-distance air travel, the second and third places were taken by airline transports flying regular routes with passengers, with the KLM
Douglas DC-2 PH-AJU Uiver (Stork) gaining a narrow advantage over Roscoe Turner's Boeing 247-D, both completing the course less than a day behind the winner. Both were equipped with full variable-pitch propellers and had just completed test and development phases, and the DC-2 was flown without significant modification.

Uiver being pulled out of the mud by Albury

G-ACSS Grosvenor House on display at the Farnborough Air Show
Farnborough Air Show
in September 1988, now kept at the Shuttleworth Collection.

The MacRobertson Air Race
MacRobertson Air Race

Centenary air race trophy 1941. After many years of speculation as to the whereabouts of this trophy it would now seem that this article in the Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald
January 24, 1941. Is now conclusive proof that the trophy was indeed donated to the Red Cross to be melted down for the war effort and is therefore no longer in existence.

The most dramatic part of the race was when the Uiver, low on fuel and hopelessly lost after becoming caught in a thunderstorm, ended up over Albury, New South Wales.[1][2] The townsfolk responded magnificently - Lyle Ferris, the chief electrical engineer of the post office, went to the power station and signalled "A-L-B-U-R-Y" to the plane in Morse code by turning the town street lights on and off. Arthur Newnham, the announcer on radio station 2CO
Corowa, appealed for cars to line up on the racecourse to light up a makeshift runway for the plane.[2] The Uiver landed successfully, and next morning was pulled out of the mud by locals to fly on to Melbourne
and win the handicap section of the race, coming second overall. In gratitude KLM
made a large donation to Albury
Hospital and Alf Waugh, the Mayor of Albury, was awarded a title in Dutch nobility.[2] Sadly later that year (1934), the DC-2, on a flight from the Netherlands to Batavia, crashed near Rutbah Wells (now known as Ar Rutba, Iraq), killing all on board, and is now commemorated by a flying replica. The race was the basis for a 1991 Australian television miniseries The Great Air Race, aka Half a World Away.

Official Finishing Order

Aircraft type Identity Race No. Crew Country of origin Notes

DH.88 Comet 'Grosvenor House' G-ACSS 34 C. W. A. Scott, Tom Campbell Black Britain Elapsed time 71 h 0 min Outright Winner

Douglas DC-2 'Uiver' PH-AJU 44 K.D. Parmentier, J.J. Moll, B. Prins, C. van Brugge (died on board the attacked BOAC flight 777 in 1943) Netherlands Elapsed time 90 h 13 min Winner on handicap

Boeing 247D 'Warner Bros. Comet' NR257Y 5 Roscoe Turner, Clyde Edward Pangborn, Reeder Nichols United States Elapsed time 92 h 55 min

DH.88 Comet G-ACSR 19 O. Cathcart Jones, K.F. Waller Britain Elapsed time 108 h 13 min

Miles M.2F Hawk Major ZK-ADJ 2 S/Ldr. M. McGregor, H.C. Walker New Zealand Elapsed time 7 d 14 h Fastest single-engined

Airspeed AS.5 Courier G-ACJL 14 S/Ldr. D. Stodart, Sgt. Pilot K. Stodart Britain Elapsed time 9 d 18 h

DH.80 Puss Moth 'My Hildergarde' VH-UQO 16 C.J. 'Jimmy' Melrose Australia Elapsed time 10 d 16 h Second on handicap

Desoutter Mk.II OY-DOD 7 Lt. M. Hansen, D. Jensen Denmark Arrived 31 October

DH.89 Dragon Rapide 'Tainui' ZK-ACO 60 J.D. Hewitt, C.E. Kay, F. Stewart New Zealand Arrived 3 November

Not classified

Miles M.3 Falcon G-ACTM 31 H.L. Brook, Miss E. Lay (passenger) Britain Arrived 20 November

Fairey IIIF G-AABY 15 F/O C.G. Davies, Lt.Cdr. C.N. Hill Britain Arrived 24 November

Fairey Fox
Fairey Fox
I G-ACXO 35 Ray Parer, G. Hemsworth Australia Withdrew from race at Paris. Eventually reached Melbourne
13 February 1935

Lambert Monocoupe 145 Baby Ruth NC501W 33 J.H. Wright, J. Polando Warner United States Withdrew at Calcutta

DH.88 Comet 'Black Magic' G-ACSP 63 Jim Mollison, Amy Johnson Britain From Karachi, Mollison lost his way, and landed at Jubulpur. No high-octane fuel available, filled up with petrol. Engines "burned out" on flight to Allahabad.

Pander S4 'Panderjager' PH-OST 6 G.J. Geysendorffer, D.L. Asjes, P. Pronk Netherlands Destroyed in ground collision at Allahabad.[3]

B.A. Eagle 'The Spirit of Wm. Shaw & Co Ltd' G-ACVU 47 F/Lt. G. Shaw Britain Withdrew at Bushire

Lockheed Vega 'Puck' G-ABGK 36 J. Woods, D.C. Bennett Australia Overturned on landing at Aleppo, withdrew

Airspeed AS.8 Viceroy G-ACMU 58 T. Neville Stack, S.L. Turner Britain Withdrew with multiple mechanical issues at Athens

Granville R-6H 'Q.E.D.' NX14307 46 Jacqueline Cochran, W. Smith Pratt United States Withdrew with malfunctioning flaps, after landing damage at Bucharest

Fairey Fox
Fairey Fox
I G-ACXX 62 H.D. Gilman, J.K. Baines Britain Crashed near Palazzo San Gervasio in Italy; both crew killed


1 See also 2 Notes 3 References 4 External links

See also[edit]

England to Australia flight


^ "The Uiver Memorial Aircraft". Albury
City website. Albury
City. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2008.  ^ a b c "Flight of the Uiver". ABC Goulburn Murray website. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 16 June 2008.  ^ "De Panderjager uitgebrand in Allahabad". www.aviacrash.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 3 February 2008. 


Lewis, Peter. 1970. British Racing and Record-Breaking Aircraft. Putnam ISBN 0-370-00067-6

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to MacRobertson Air Race.

MacRobertson Air Race
MacRobertson Air Race
- State Library of NSW The MacRobertson Air Race, 1934 Comet DH88 - fastest from England to Australia The Great Air Race, a TV Movie about MacRobertson Air Race The Uiver Collection, Albury
NSW Tom Campbell Black
Tom Campbell Black
co-winner of the MacRobertson London to Melbourne Air Race 1934 2CO
Corowa site with many details and reminiscences from witnesses of De Uiver's landing at Albury 75th. ANNIVERSARY of the MacROBERTSON AIR RA