The Greatest Air Race - Screening

The Greatest Air Race
Thu 14 Nov – 8:15 pm
Mitcham – Buy Now!

Join us at Mitcham Cinemas for a glass of bubbles and a special screening with introduction by director Susan Harrington
and astronaut Andy Thomas.

The Greatest Air Race is the story of how Sir Ross Smith and his three-man crew became the first aviators to cross the planet. It’s a feat that remains largely overlooked in the history of flight. The 18,000km race from England to Australia was held in 1919, just 16 years after the Wright brothers had flown the length of two tennis courts. Six teams had 30 days to reach Darwin, a challenge the press said would ‘end in death’.

Smith’s aircraft was a Vickers Vimy WWI bomber made of fabric, wire and wood. The crew sat in open cockpits with a compass for navigation, putting down in countries that had never seen a plane nor heard of ‘airstrips’. As a small boy growing up in South Australia, Andy Thomas was inspired by the surviving Vickers Vimy and its remarkable story. After studying aeronautical engineering, Andy joined NASA and flew four million miles aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. As a tribute, he carried two cloth badges – the ‘wings’ of brothers Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith, the pilot and navigator of the Vimy.

Several decades later, Andy returns to the old plane with the aim of inspiring a new generation and celebrating this all-but-forgotten achievement. The Greatest Air Race unearths little-seen footage from 1919 to bring to life the trials, tragedies and triumphs of a contest that was as audacious as it was epic. On location in Adelaide, Darwin, outback Australia and London, Andy meets with aviation experts, historians and vintage aircraft enthusiasts. And he makes a stunning discovery: the Vimy aircraft is as significant as the Apollo moon lander. Sir Ross Smith was the Neil Armstrong of his day.

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