First airplane to land in Singapore



The first airplane to land in Singapore (apart from earlier exhibition flights) was piloted by Captain Ross Macpherson Smith with three crew members. The plane, which was on a pioneering flight from England to Darwin, Australia, made a stopover in Singapore on 4 December 1919.1 About four-and-a-half years later, on 20 April 1924, the first Royal Air Force plane landed in Singapore.2

The flight
Captain Ross MacPherson Smith, his brother Lieutenant Keith Macpherson Smith (navigator), and mechanics Sergeant J. M. Bennet and Sergeant Wally Shiers flew a modified Vickers Vimy bi-plane (Registration G-EAOU).3 The plane touched down on the old Race Course (now Farrer Park) at 4.48 pm on Thursday, 4 December 1919.4


This first England-to-Australia flight had left Hounslow, London, on 12 November 1919. It arrived in Singapore on 4 December and departed on 6 December for Darwin, completing the trip in 28 days. Captain Smith and his crew won the £10,000 prize money offered by the Commonwealth government as the first Australians to fly from England to Australia in less than 30 days. The Smith brothers were both knighted for their effort and the achievement of this memorable feat. Bennet and Shiers were promoted to the rank of lieutenant.5

The Vickers Vimy plane is on display at Australia’s Adelaide Airport.6

Re-creation of flight
A re-creation of this historic flight took place in 1994. Accompanied by a team of journalists from the National Geographic magazine and a technical support group, the “Shell Spirit of Brooklands Vimy”, a replica of the original Vickers Vimy, retraced the original route taken by the four men. Pilots Peter McMillan and Lang Kidby landed the plane at Seletar Airbase on 7 October 1994. The plane weighed 3,227 kg, had a top speed of about 150 kph and a wing span of over 21 m.



Author

Vernon Cornelius



References
1. Singapore fly-past: A pictorial review of civil aviation in Singapore, 1911–1981. (1982). Singapore: MPH Magazines, pp. 11, 15–17. (Call no.: RSING 387.7095957 SIN); Singapore Philatelic Museum. (2011). Singapore Philatelic Museum newsletter April 2011–July 2011 (p. 2). Retrieved 2016, October 5 from Singapore Philatelic Museum website: http://spm.org.sg/~/media/spm/documents/apr11_july11.pdf
2. Singapore facts and pictures. (1996). Singapore: Ministry of Culture, p. 148. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SMCFFS)
3. Tyers, R. K. (1976). Singapore, then & now. Singapore: University Education Press, p. 472. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 TYE); Hutton, P. (1981). Wings over Singapore: The story of Singapore Changi Airport. Singapore: MPH Magazines, pp. 18–19. (Call no.: RSING 387.736095957 HUT); Adelaide Airport. (2017). History. Retrieved 2017, January 6 from Adelaide Airport website: https://www.adelaideairport.com.au/corporate/about-us/company-profile/history/
4. Tyers, R. K. (1976). Singapore, then & now. Singapore: University Education Press, p. 472. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 TYE); Singapore fly-past: A pictorial review of civil aviation in Singapore, 1911–1981. (1982). Singapore: MPH Magazines, pp. 11, 15–17. (Call no.: RSING 387.7095957 SIN); Hutton, P. (1981). Wings over Singapore: The story of Singapore Changi Airport. Singapore: MPH Magazines, pp. 18–19. (Call no.: RSING 387.736095957 HUT); Yap, L. (2011, April–June). Singapore takes flight: A hundred years of aviation, p. 54. Retrieved 2017, January 6 from Singapore Philatelic Museum website: http://spm.org.sg/~/media/spm/documents/singapore_takes_flight.pdf?la=en
5. Tyers, R. K. (1976). Singapore, then & now. Singapore: University Education Press, p. 472. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 TYE); Hutton, P. (1981). Wings over Singapore: The story of Singapore Changi Airport. Singapore: MPH Magazines, pp. 18–19. (Call no.: RSING 387.736095957 HUT); Adelaide Airport. (2017). History. Retrieved 2017, January 6 from Adelaide Airport website: https://www.adelaideairport.com.au/corporate/about-us/company-profile/history/
6. Adelaide Airport. (2017). History. Retrieved 2017, January 6 from Adelaide Airport website: https://www.adelaideairport.com.au/corporate/about-us/company-profile/history/
7. Replica of first plane here touches down (1994, October 8). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Commerce and Industry>>Transportation
Events>>Historical Periods>>Founding of Modern Singapore (1819-1941)
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Services>>Transportation and logistics
Transportation
Airplanes--Landing--Singapore