'We could hardly believe it'

No wonder Ray Parer and John McIntosh were so dumbfounded. A hundred years ago, they and their humble DH9 overcame all sorts of challenges and mishaps, to complete the first single-engined flight from England to Australia

DH9 G-EAQM, dubbed ‘PD’ after the flight’s sponsor, on Australian soil at Darwin. A lone lady observes the historic scene. NORTHERN TERRITORY LIBRARY

In December 1919, flying their bottle-green Vickers Vimy G-EAOU, Ross and Keith Smith won the first England to Australia air race. The brothers’ heroic journey took just under 28 days. Both received knighthoods, while a huge £10,000 prize was awarded by the Australian government. But far behind the Smiths and the other race competitors a further aircraft began the great adventure: a modest Airco DH9 flown by Lts Ray Parer and John McIntosh.

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