November 2021 marked the 90th anniversary of the first all-Australian airmail service between Australia and England.
The service to England began on November 19, 1931, with a tri-motor Avro 10 aircraft operated by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's Australian National Airways.
The Southern Sun, piloted by GU (Scotty) Allen, carried some 52,000 letters to be delivered in time for Christmas.
There were two crew members and one passenger, Lieutenant Colonel HC Brinsmead, the Controller of Civil Aviation in Australia.
After leaving Brighton Racecourse near Hobart, the aircraft picked up mail from Launceston, Melbourne and Sydney, and departed Australia from Darwin.
While taking off from Alor Star in Malaya on November 26, the Southern Sun failed to gain flying speed on a boggy runway, crashed into a rice paddy and was damaged beyond repair.
Lt. Col Brinsmead decided not to wait for "Smithy" to come and rescue the mail and left on a KLM flight to Amsterdam.
On December 7 this aircraft crashed on taking off from Bangkok, killing three crew, two passengers and critically wounding Lt. Col Brinsmead.
He died in 1934 from complications related to his injuries.
Kingsford Smith then flew from Sydney in a second Avro 10 aircraft, the Southern Star.
He picked up the mail in Malaya and completed the flight to England on December 16, 1931, in time for the mail to be delivered before Christmas.
The Southern Star left London with mail for Australia on January 7, 1932, and arrived in Melbourne on January 21, completing the round trip.
The Tasmanian Aero Club has an envelope carried on the first all-Australian airmail flight to England. It is postmarked: Launceston, November 19, 1931.
The letter was addressed to: Mrs C Hope, White House Farm, Bucklow Hill, near Knutsford, Cheshire, England.
A message on the back of the envelope reads "Please take delivery of Miss Quon's letter, addressed in care of you."
Members of the Tasmanian Aviation Historical Society (TAHS) are attempting to establish any link between the Hope family in Cheshire and the Quon family in Launceston.
TAHS is interested to learn how the envelope was returned to Launceston.
The first experimental airmail delivery from England to Australia was initiated by the British airline Imperial Airways.
Departing London on April 4, 1931, the mail travelled many legs on different aircraft, the last one being a Fokker F.VII.
Unfortunately, the aircraft ran short of fuel, and was destroyed at Koepang (now Kupang), Timor on April 19.
Kingsford Smith flew his famous Southern Cross to Koepang on the 24th to pick up the stranded mail and completed the delivery to Darwin on the 25th.
Two days later he left for Burma in the Southern Cross with the first Australian airmail destined for England.
The mail was transferred to an Imperial Airways plane arriving in Croydon, England on May 14, 1931.
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