VH-USB Lady Southern Cross (Part 4)


Link to Part 1 118W Sirius Times (pre-Smithy)
Link to Part 2 VH-USB On to the Australian Register
Link to Part 3 VH-USB The Air Race and the Pacific Flight
This is Part 4 G-ADUS On to the British Register

Altair 8D Special
MSN: 152

NR118W Sirius 8A Hutchinson
NC118W Sirius 8 Special Fleming
X118W Altair 8D Special Kingsford Smith
VH-USB Altair 8D Special Kingsford Smith
G-ADUS Altair 8D Special Kingsford Smith


The Altair was craned off the M.V. Dalhem and barged down the River Thames to Allhallows on the Isle of Grain from where Smithy flew the aeroplane to Croydon Aerodrome, placing the aircraft in the care of Rollason Air Services. (Source: 3)
(The Isle of Grain is the easternmost point of the Hoo Peninsula in Kent. Its name comes from the Old English Greon, meaning gravel. No longer an island, the Isle is almost all marshland and the Grain marshes are a major habitat for diverse wetland birds.)
07OCT35 Entered on the U.K. Register as G-ADUS.
16OCT35 In response to a request from Australia, Australia House London sent the following telegram:
"Ministry advise machine entered on Register of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Registration markings G-ADUS. Validation of U.S.A. Certificate Airworthiness for Export presents certain difficulties owing to modifications involving extra tankage etc. Introduced for purpose long distance flight. Negotiations with U.S.A. are still proceeding this point by cable. Advise further later."
19OCT35 The Deputy Director of Civil Aviation (per Allan Attridge) wrote to Smithy in London:
"With reference your application dated the 5th. October, I am directed to forward herewith Validation in the special category of the U.S.A. Export Certificate of Airworthiness No. 1595 for Lockheed "Altair" 8D Special aircraft G-ADUS, for the purpose of one flight from England to Australia, together with Journey Log Book. With reference to the restriction of the maximum all up weight of the aircraft to 5200 lbs. and the limiting of the movement of the centre of gravity position between 10.6" and 16" aft of the front spar centre line, it should be noted these conditions are complied with when the aircraft is loaded in the following manner:- One pilot (Sir C. Kingsford Smith), one passenger, 126 gallons fuel (91 gallons in front tank and 35 gallons in wing tank), 12 gallons of oil, wireless apparatus weighing 14 lbs. and 10 lbs. of rations. I am to add that the Air Ministry will be prepared to issue a Validation in the normal category of the U.S.A. Export Certificate if and when the special modifications referred to in the Note on the Export Certificate have been removed and the aircraft restored to a standard type conforming to approved specifications."

See a detailed report on the British CofA.
23OCT35 Smithy and his engineer and co-pilot, Tommy Pethybridge, departed Lympne in an attempt to break the England to Australia record but they were forced to divert to Brindisi in Italy after a serious hailstorm over the Adriatic Sea damaged the leading edges of the Altair's wooden wing. After temporary repairs, the Altair returned to Croydon late on the 24th October. At this stage, Smithy, who had been in poor health in the days leading up to the flight, decided to ship the Altair back to Australia if sufficient funds could be found. A request to the Australian Government for a part payment of the £3,000 owed to Smithy from the sale of the "Southern Cross" failed to provide the necessary funds and Smithy was left with no option but to fly the Altair home.
05NOV35 The Altair was positioned from Croydon to Lympne from where Smithy and Tommy Pethybridge would depart on another attempt to break the England to Australia record.
06NOV35 Departed Lympne for Athens where the Altair was refuelled to the maximum capacity of its tanks.
07NOV35 Arrived Baghdad from Athens.
07NOV35 Arrived Allahabad from Baghdad.
07NOV35 The Altair was sighted passing overhead Rangoon, Burma. This was the last sighting of the "Lady Southern Cross".
08NOV35 The "Lady Southern Cross" is estimated to have crashed into the Gulf of Martaban in the vicinity of Aye Island at approximately 0216 local time.
01MAY37 A section of an aircraft undercarriage including a wheel and tyre was washed ashore at Aye Island. The wreckage was later identified by Lockheed as having come from the "Lady Southern Cross". The undercarriage leg and wheel is held in the collection of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia (Photo). No trace of Smithy or Tommy Pethybridge has ever been found.
04MAY79 Aye Island was visited by an advance party of the Lady Southern Cross Search Expedition (LSCSE) led by Ted Wixted. The island and surrounding waters were surveyed in preparation for a future recovery expedition.
21MAR83 A team from the Lady Southern Cross Search Expedition (LSCSE) led by Ted Wixted arrived at Aye Island to conduct a sonar search of the surrounding waters. After ten days, during which divers worked in appalling conditions, time had run out and the search was suspended. Although nothing from the "Lady Southern Cross" had been found, an unrelated radial engine was located. The team left the island with the feeling that much remained to be discovered.
17MAY01 Ted Wixted passed away at his Brisbane home. Family and friends intend to continue the search for Smithy, Tommy Pethybridge and the "Lady Southern Cross".
18FEB09 Film-maker Damien Lay travelled to Myanmar (Burma) to search for the "Lady Southern Cross".
22MAR09 At a press conference in Sydney, Damien Lay announced: "Without shadow of a doubt, in my mind, we have undoubtedly found the Lady Southern Cross".


Link to Part 1 118W Sirius Times (pre-Smithy)
Link to Part 2 VH-USB On to the Australian Register
Link to Part 3 VH-USB The Air Race and the Pacific Flight
This is Part 4 G-ADUS On to the British Register


CCA Controller of Civil Aviation (Captain E.C. Johnston during this period)
CofA Certificate of Airworthiness
CofR Certificate of Registration
DSCA District Superintendent of Civil Aviation
ICAN International Commission on Aerial Navigation
IDC Inter-Departmental Communication (Lockheed memo)
KINGSMITH Telegraphic address for Kingsford Smith Air Service Ltd., Mascot
NACA National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (USA)
Smithy Although his full title is Air Commodore Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Kt, M.C., A.F.C., the popular name bestowed upon him by the Australian people is widely used throughout these pages, not only for brevity, but also with affection. Note that Kingsford Smith should not be hyphenated, although this variation does appear in some direct quotations appearing on these pages.


Pacific Flight
P.G. Taylor (Angus and Robertson 1935)
The Search for the Lady Southern Cross
E.P. (Ted) Wixted (Published privately 1991)
The Life and Times of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
E.P. (Ted) Wixted (Published privately 1996)
The Civil Aircraft Registers of Great Britain 1919-1985
John Appleton (TAHS 1986)
The Historic Civil Aircraft Register of Australia (Pre War) G-AUAA to VH-UZZ
Bert Cookson (AustAirData 1996)
Revolution in the Sky
Richard Sanders Allen (The Stephen Greene Press 1967)
Lockheed Aircraft since 1913
Rene J. Francillon (Putnam 1987)
The Lady Southern Cross
Monty Tyrrell (Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journal October 1965)
Aviation Heritage - The Centenary Air Race Vol 24 No 1 & 2
(Aviation Historical Society of Australia 1985)
Lockheed Archives accessed by Birch Matthews
National Archives of Australia Series: MP 113/1 Item: VH/USB
accessed by Trevor Boughton
Oakland Airfield Register. https://oaklandairfield.org/index.php/register
California Digital Newspaper Collection - UCR Centre for Biographical Studies and Research

Issue Date Remarks
13 11MAY22
Added details of the arrival in England on 07OCT35.
Corrected the departure airport on 23OCT35 to Lympne as per Source: 3 (previously shown incorrectly as Croydon).
12 28MAR09
Added references to Damien Lay's February 2009 expedition to Myanmar (Burma).
11 14DEC02
Added much new material extracted from Lockheed archives by Birch Matthews and from the National Archives of Australia by Trevor Boughton.

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