(Continued from page 34)

 

officials as well.

Almost over - Touchdown at Parafield:

Touchdown at Parafield according to my flight plan was 1348z 2318, alter a flight time of three hours forty-nine minutes. We both knew that we had made it before the cut-off and although we thought we only had forty-two minutes to spare, we discovered some twenty-four hours later that we had Twenty-four hours and forty-two minutes to spare. We had lost a day somewhere.

Perhaps the best example of the complete exhaustion we were experiencing is the fact that I can still vividly recall how I could not co-ordinate my thoughts with my speech. It was almost as though I was quite intoxicated with alcohol. It was really great to be reunited with family and friends but I know that I couldn't really convey that to them because of the condition I was in.

We secured the Victa and through South Australian Aero Club members arranged for them to do a 100 hourly service for us, then someone took us somewhere. I think it was a school dorm close to the City and we fell into our beds about 2 a.m.

The Race Card and Gatwick:

When the Air Race organisers handed out the race cards, a warning accompanied them. It simply said, "Do not lose it (your race card) it cannot be replaced." John Wynn and Keith Buttrey did not lose their card. Returning to Adelaide the Control Stamps were all in place and the card was accepted as evidence of them complying with the air race rules.

The control stamps had been put in place in Athens, Karachi, Calcutta, Singapore, Darwin and finally, Adelaide. These were the cities in which Sir Keith Smith and Sir Ross Smith landed on their historic journey in 1919 when flying the Vickers Vimy from London to Australia. The Victa, on this journey, collected a much greater number of stamps and the page for Intermediate Stops is filled with stamps from countries right across the route. The race card is included as a record of a flight and to give an indication of the number of landings necessary for such a tiny aircraft undertaking such a journey. The six legs of the journey approved by the air race organisers were London to Athens, Athens to Karachi, Karachi to Calcutta, Calcutta to Singapore, Singapore to Darwin and finally, Darwin to Adelaide.

In this day and age, some airlines have scheduled journey's from Australia to London where three or four intermediate stops are necessary. Anyone who has undertaken such a flight will be aware of the tedium involved by travelling in this way.

The front page of the official Air Race Program is included. Appropriately, the cover features the Vickers Vimy, the aircraft commemorated by the England-Australia Air Race. A visitor to Adelaide can view the aircraft where it is preserved as part of Australia's history in a special hangar at West Beach Airport.

Some other photographs include the Victa standing on the airstrip at Gatwick soon after its arrival. The pilots are standing on the wings while John Blake, wearing his distinctive moustache and other Air Race Official's welcome John and Keith to London. Their arrival at Gatwick coincided with an official meeting of the Air Race Committee, enabling the spontaneous welcome to take place.

Epilogue:

In bringing the account of the flight of VK MUJ, Little Nugget piloted by John Wynn and Keith Buttrey to a close, it is necessary to firmly fix in one's mind that it is thirty years since this contest took place. Actually, at the time of this edition, it is now forty years.

 

In the event of another London to Sydney Air Race, or one of somewhat the same magnitude, the experience of John and Keith may well be regarded as a textbook, a necessary model for any pilot considering entering the race.

Naturally, a pilot planning an adventure of this nature will be qualified to the satisfaction of the relevant licensing authorities of at least one recognised nation. A pilot who is licensed in Australia will have qualified against one of the most stringent tests in the world.

It is in this context, the fundamentals of flying an aircraft are quite irrelevant when weighed against social, political and bureaucratic influences impinging on a journey crossing so many countries, by their nature, volatile and unpredictable.

In the past thirty years, South East Asia and the Middle East have continued what could be said to be an irreversible course toward self-destruction. Not much, really, has changed in these intervening thirty years. Indonesia is in conflict with Timor and some of its other neighbouring annexes. Malaysia and Thailand continue to be receptive to Europeans without going to the extent of embracing the inhabitants of any Western Nation.

In Burma, now known as Myanmar, the spectre of communism has not been expunged by the Revolutionary Government of the Union and the country continues to be one of the most volatile in the region. A similar situation exists through India and Pakistan where the danger of a purely domestic stoush is forever present.

Not much has changed since 1969. Some countries have degenerated into spasms of outright war before any resemblance of peace could be said to exist. This is particularly evident in most of the Arab nations who make up the countries of the Middle East. Fluctuating politics, dictatorships with a couple of monarchies thrown in, tend to mitigate against any harmony between nations developing. When religion is thrown in, it becomes a hotbed of tension.

An example of the complexities of religious differences is more than adequately revealed in the discussion between John Wynn and Captain Aftab, the Chief Flying Instructor of the Karachi Aero Club. Right from the start of the conversation, Captain Aftab asserted his view was not to be regarded as an official opinion.

In 1969, Iraq was a nation to be avoided. Twenty years later, President Reagan of the United States of America reacted to its current policy after it annexed Kuwait by armed invasion. The military might of the United Nations took retaliatory steps against Iraq. Still, the nation continues to be a threat to world peace.

Whether another air race is feasible, through countries in which such tension is part of life, remains to be seen. Straying from their course was of some concern to John Wynn and Keith Buttrey thirty years ago. In those day's they did not have global positioning satellites, computers and other more advanced navigational aids such as those existing today.

 

The most recent Ten years:

 

This account was originally prepared in 1999. Now in 2009, it is being modified at the time of the fortieth anniversary of John Wynn and Keith Buttrey departing Australia in the Air Tourer;

Is it possible to say that this is a situation of déjà- vu? What has happened in the past ten years? What is different now from that time in 1969? Apart from war in Iraq, dissention in various Islamic countries continues, then there are natural disasters and  things like tsunami’s. Wouldn’t you say the situation seems to be pretty much the same?

Any mistakes that are found in this edition are unintentional and are made by the editor. Otherwise, what is said in this short account is taken generally from the very extensive documentation prepared by John Wynn and Keith Buttrey. The flight was extensively recorded by the crew, both in flight logs and on cassette tapes.

In September 2009, Keith spent a few days with PiandO. He was accompanied by his wife Barbara and their seventeen week old German Shepherd, Jack.