The Smith crew’s epic flight shows that anything is possible with visionary thinking, courage, hard work, determination and audacity. For children raised under the South Australian sun, the sky is no limit.

Watch our short video

Click on the map to watch a one-minute video on the Smith brothers’ epic flight, which took place during the 1919 Great Air Race from England to Australia. With special thanks to the team at All Of Us Productions for creating these videos for the Epic Flight Centenary.

Single lesson plan

For a simple, single lesson plan to introduce students to the story, South Australian relief teacher Paul Curnow has provided a one-page synopsis on the Smith brothers with 11 quick questions. Download the page here.   

School projects 

The Epic Flight Centenary Schools Competition, sponsored by Boeing Australia, aimed to engage SA children with this incredible story and inspire them to set their own big goals. We’re sincerely grateful to the schools and students who took part – you’ll find some of their amazing entries at the bottom of this page.

To ensure teachers and students continue to be inspired by the story of the epic flight in years to come, we’ve adapted the competition resources to create two projects for use at all year levels across the curriculum. You can choose from two projects – the first with connections to Science/Maths/STEM and the second with connections to English/HASS/Geography/Art. You’ll find examples of how to develop the project further below, as well as some exploration questions (developed by the education team at the State Library of South Australia) to encourage thinking, discussion and research around the topic.

Project 1. Connections with Science/Maths/STEM

In 1919, South Australian brothers Ross and Keith Smith – with their trusty mechanics Wally Shiers (SA) and Jim Bennett (Vic) – made the first flight across the world from England to Australia. Explore the advances in technology between the Vickers Vimy and the Royal Australian Air Force’s new P-8 Poseidon. Things you might compare include, but aren’t limited to: building materials then and now; engines; wing technology (i.e. describe and explain wing shape in a boomerang, a Vickers Vimy and a P-8 Poseidon); navigation, instruments; mapping; fuel efficiency; airfields.

Project 2. Connections with English/HASS/Geography/Art

In 1919, South Australian brothers Ross and Keith Smith – with their trusty mechanics Wally Shiers (SA) and Jim Bennett (Vic) – achieved the first flight across the world from England to Australia. International experts say that pioneering flight was as awe-inspiring in its day as man landing on the moon. Tell us what you find so inspiring about the epic flight?

Examples of topics you might explore (or please choose your own):

  • What are the legacies of the flight?
  • Think about travelling in a plane today. What similarities and differences do you notice between the Smith crew in their Vickers Vimy and people who travel by plane in the present?
  • It’s 10 December 1919 in Darwin, and you’ve just spotted the Vickers Vimy on the horizon. Now imagine you’re either a Larrakia elder, fellow Australian aviator Hudson Fysh or a young schoolgirl, and describe how you feel.
  • How did the flight change the way Australians lived?
  • How has Australia commemorated the flight in the past 100 years?
  • Reflect on one of the men and tell the story of their life.
  • How did people across the world work together on this project to help the Smith crew?

Examples of how you might develop your project include, but aren’t limited to…
(For all subjects: Science/Maths/STEM/ English/HASS/Geography/Art)

  • Essay/story 
  • Claymation/stopmotion 
  • TV news story 
  • Video/film/podcast 
  • Slideshow 
  • Drawing
  • Map
  • Poster/online poster (e.g. glogster)
  • Painting/artwork
  • Aircraft models 
  • Board game

Some exploration questions to consider when working on your project…

• What do you already know about the Epic Flight? • What questions do you have about this? • What else do you want to know? • What information and sources are available to find out about this?

• When the Vimy flew from Darwin to Adelaide via the eastern states, many Australians would have seen an aircraft for the first time. How do you think Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people would have reacted and why?

• Why might people want to know about the Epic Flight? • What might different types of people say about it? • How could you find out? • Who might be interested in this?

• What language do you need to use? • What vocabulary would you need to use to discuss this? • Are there any new terms or vocabulary you need to understand?

• What is the connection between the Epic Flight and how people use flight in the present?

• What if the Epic Flight never happened? What effects might this have had on South Australian History?

• What do you find interesting and/or unexpected about the Epic Flight? • What surprises you? • What confuses you?

Epic Flight Centenary 2019 Schools Competition

The Epic Flight Centenary Committee is delighted to congratulate more than 60 students from the following schools who have won certificates and commemorative medallions for their outstanding projects, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Boeing Australia: Cedar College, Flinders Park Primary School, Nailsworth Primary School, Nuriootpa Primary School, Trinity Gardens Primary School and Walkerville Primary School.

Thanks to the Royal Australian Air Force, five individual entries have also won a family pass to the RAAF Base Edinburgh Air Show from 9-10 November.

Here are some of the winning entries:

Here’s a stopmotion video created out of Lego by Saisushanth Sreeram in Year 6 at Cedar College:

And finally, here’s the fantastic short film entered by Year 4/5 students at Nuriootpa Primary School: