If you’re keen to learn all there is to know about the epic flight and the Great Air Race, the following books are a great place to start.

Books primarily about the epic flight

  1. Anderson, Lainie, Long Flight Home, Wakefield Press, 2019
    (An historic fiction which tells the story of the Great Air Race through the eyes of Ross Smith’s mechanic Wally Shiers.)
  2. Eustis, Nelson, The Greatest Air Race: England – Australia 1919, Rigby Limited 1969
    (Although written in 1969, this book is a veritable encyclopedia on the Great Air Race.)
  3. Maiden, Peter, The Sky Racers, Central Queensland University Press, 2010
  4. Molkentin, Michael, Anzac & Aviator, Allen & Unwin, 2019
  5. Price, A. Grenfell, The Skies Remember, Angus & Robertson, 1969
    (The story of Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith.)
  6. Smith, Sir Ross, 14,000 Miles Through The Air, Macmillan & Co, 1922
    (Reprinted by Wakefield Press in 2019 as Flight to Fame, edited and introduced by highly respected South Australian historian Peter Monteath.)

Books offering a rich background to the story

  1. Andrews, C.F., Vickers Aircraft Since 1908, Putman & Company, 1969
  2. Clune, Frank, D’Air Devil: The Story of Pard Mustar, Angus & Robertson, 1941
    (Pard Mustar was Ross Smith’s observer in the Australian Flying Corps.)
  3. Cutlack, F.M., The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War 1914-1918, Angus & Robertson 1938
    (Ross Smith, Wally Shiers and Jim Bennett all served with the Australian Flying Corps in WWI.)
  4. Dowie, John, A Life in the Round, Wakefield Press, 2001
    (John Dowie created the beautiful sculpture of the Smith crew at Adelaide Airport – a chapter of the book is dedicated to the project.)
  5. Ellison, Norman, Flying Matilda: Early days in Australia’s Aviation, Angus & Robertson, 1957
  6. FitzSimons, Peter, Charles Kingsford Smith and Those Magnificent Men, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2009
    (Includes details of Kingsford Smith’s failed bid to compete in the Great Air Race.)
  7. Fysh, Sir Hudson, Qantas Rising, Angus & Robertson, 1965
    (Fysh and fellow No. 1 Squadron airman Paul McGuinness were charged with carving out airfields across northern Australia for competitors in the Great Air Race – and the task led directly to the creation of Qantas. Fysh was also the first person to greet the Smith crew on their arrival in Darwin.)
  8. Gunn, John, The Defeat of Distance: Qantas 1919-1939, University of Queensland Press, 1985
  9. Gwynn-Jones, Terry, Aviation’s Magnificent Gamblers, Lansdowne Press, 1981
  10. Gwynn-Jones, Terry, On a Wing and a Prayer, University of Queensland Press, 1989
  11. Gwynn-Jones, Terry, By the Seat of Their Pants, University of Queensland Press, 1992
  12. Gwynn-Jones, Terry, Wild Blue Yonder, University of Queensland Press, 1996
  13. Haynes, Jim & Dellit, Jillian, Great Australian Aviation Stories, ABC Books, 2006
  14. Hodges, Ian, Australian Flying Corps, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Canberra, 2010
  15. Hooper, Meredith, God ‘Elp All Of Us: Three Great Flights, Methuen, 1986
  16. Hooper, Meredith, Kangaroo Route: the development of commercial flight between England and Australia, Angus & Robertson, 1985
  17. Kieza, Grantlee, Bert Hinkler: The Most Daring Man in the World, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2012
    (Hinkler was the first Australian airman to enter the Great Air Race in 1919, but was ultimately not allowed to take part because he insisted on flying solo. He achieved the first solo flight from England to Australia in 1928.)
  18. Lawrence, T.E., Revolt in the Desert, Jonathan Cape, 1927
    (Ross Smith served as pilot to ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ at certain times during WWI.)
  19. Lax, Mark, One Airman’s War: Aircraft Mechanic Joe Bull’s Personal Diaries 1916-1919, Banner Books, 1997
    (Joe Bull was Ross Smith’s mechanic for a time in No. 1 Squadron, and his diaries provide a wonderful insight into the daily life of mechanics such as Wally Shiers and Jim Bennett.)
  20. Molkentin, Michael, Fire In The Sky: The Australian Flying Corps in the First World War, Allen & Unwin, 2010
  21. Nasht, Simon, The Last Explorer: Hubert Wilkins, Australia’s Unknown Hero, Hachette Australia, 2007
    (Includes a chapter on Wilkins’ involvement in the Great Air Race as caption of the Blackburn Kangaroo crew.)
  22. Odgers, George, Pictorial History of the Royal Australian Air Force, Paul Hanlyn, 1978
  23. Schaedel, Chas, South Australian Airmen of the Great War, South Australian Aviation Museum, 2015
  24. Semple, Clive, Airway To The East 1918-1920: And The Collapse Of No.1 Aerial Route RAF, Pen & Sword Aviation 2011
    (Clive Semple’s father served in the Royal Air Force and was stationed on the Greek island of Crete, where a number of crews landed during the Great Air Race.)
  25. Slater, Guy, My Warrior Sons, Peter Davies, 1973
    (WWI diary of the Borton family, including RAF Brigadier General Amyas “Biffy” Borton who was a great friend and supporter of Ross Smith, and hosted Smith and his mechanics at the family estate ‘Cheveney’ before the Great Air Race.)
  26. Sutherland, L.W., Aces and Kings, Angus & Robertson, 1935
    (Sutherland served with Ross Smith in the Australian Flying Corps and provides a charming insight into life in No. 1 Squadron.)
  27. Williams, Sir Richard, These Are Facts, The Australian War Memorial and the Australian Government Publishing Service, 1977 (Williams was CO of No. 1 Squadron, and soon after the war was sent to England to oversee the Great Air Race on behalf of the Australian Government.)