Alexander Kingsford Smith 24, the great great nephew of legendary Australian aviation pioneer and war time hero Sir Charles Kingsford Smith is set to take part in this year’s Outback Air Race to raise money for the Royal Flying Doctors Service.
The Outback Air Race is a GPS navigation-based time trial that stretches across Australia’s outback from ‘Coast to Coast’ starting in Brisbane and ending in Broome.
There is a total of 102 competitors in this year’s race in 42 aircraft, pilots earn points for time elapsed and accuracy. The race makes its way through some of the most scenic parts of Australia including Mt Isa, Katherine and Bundaberg.
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (1897-1935) or ‘Smithy’ was the greatest aviator of his generation, a hero to the Australian people and was so famous that he appeared on Australia’s $20 note from 1966 to 1994.
Kingsford Smith enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, serving in Gallipoli, France and Egypt before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps. In 1918 he took to the skies over the Western Front, where he was shot down and wounded.
He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and devotion to duty. Kingsford Smith was promoted to Lieutenant and served as a Royal Flying Corps instructor.
In 1928 along with Charles Ulm, Kingsford Smith was the first to fly across the Pacific and the Tasman sea and clocked the quickest time flying from England to Australia.
In 1932 Kingsford Smith was knighted for his contribution to aviation. Tragically Kingsford Smith and co-pilot John Thompson Pethybridge were lost when their plane the Lady Southern Cross disappeared over the Andaman Sea when attempting to break the Australia to England flight record in 1935.
Kingsford Smith was only 38 years old, leaving behind a wife and son.
Alex Kingsford Smith is currently studying a Diploma of Aviation at Box Hill Institute in Victoria and is close to attaining his Private Pilot License with Soar Aviation flying school, located at Moorabbin Airport.
Alex’s dream job is to fly aerobatic planes professionally after an encounter in one recently which he describes as the greatest thrill of his life. Alex says that the spirit of adventure of is a family trait that has transcended generations and feels his flying is second nature to him.
“My dad has travelled a lot growing up and his whole life he has done so much and his brother was also a mountaineer, my grandfather flew planes too and he set an altitude record back in 1930’s. It motivates me to do big things as well.”
“My dad had told me a lot about him growing up (Charles Kingsford Smith) but it wasn’t until I started flying that I took a real interest in it. Nothing I can do can come close to what he did but it definitely motivates me. It makes me proud knowing that flying is in the blood.”
The Outback Air Race runs every 3 years and has raised over $2.1 million since 1996 for the Royal Flying Doctors Service. It was founded in 1928 to provide emergency 24 hour medical service to people living in rural and remote Australia across 7.69 million acres and is the ‘largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisation in the world’.
“It’s for a good cause, it will be helping raise funds for the Royal Flying Doctors Service which is a really important organisation and I have always wanted to fly around Australia, this is my opportunity in my second year of flying and I am really excited”.
Outback Air Race, race manager Stuart Payne said Alex’s inclusion in the race is ‘terrific’.
“This is a historic event for many parties involved. It’s the 10th time we have run the event since it first started in 1996 and it’s the 90th anniversary of the RFDS so it’s particularly appropriate that somebody of such a historic connection and heritage as the gentlemen competing in the race so we are very pleased.”
The Outback Air Race has a target of raising $500,000 for the RDFS, these funds will be donated and distributed across RFDS factions based on where the ‘home’ team, who has raised the money is from.
The race starts at Archerfield, Brisbane on Sunday the 19th of August and will finish in Broome, Western Australia on the 31st of August.
Alex has currently raised over $5000 for the RFDS, donate here.