Around Australia in 44 days

12 April 2024

Adventurer Michael Smith has set off to recreate the first circumnavigation of Australia by seaplane on the day two Air Force pilots did it 100 years earlier.

Mr Smith will follow the same route as former acting Chief of the Air Staff, Wing Commander SJ (‘Jimmy’) Goble, and pilot, Flying Officer Ivor McIntyre, spending 44 days solo, following Australia's coastline in an anti-clockwise direction.

Although Mr Smith’s seaplane “Southern Sun” could complete the task in a third of the time, the adventurer wants to remain faithful to the original journey, which delivered the first aerial survey of Australia’s coastline. 

Starting from RAAF Base Point Cook near Melbourne in his twin engine Chaika LLC L65 Seabear, Mr Smith is hoping the weather conditions will be more favourable than those encountered by the initial pioneers in their single-engine Fairey Mk III D seaplane. 

The Air Force airmen managed to complete 93 flying hours in 1924 with poor maps, experiencing strong winds and heavy rain, surviving terrible turbulence that caused damage to their aircraft, fatigue and compass failure on the maiden flight. 

For their efforts both men were appointed Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

When asked why he is taking on this feat, Mr Smith responded like a true adventurer: “Because it’s fun and I’m looking forward to seeing the beaches at 500 feet."

"It’s so important to recognise the mechanised apparatus that made Australian life possible. Still today there are towns where their mail and milk are delivered by plane.

“It’s also a chance to reflect on the services of our Air Force and the importance of airbases today. We must preserve these airfields, built where they are, because of the information gathered from that flight 100 years ago," Mr Smith said.

He is joined by other pilots who will circumnavigate Australia in the opposite direction avoiding the cooler and more unpredictable weather patterns.

Mr Smith, who has been flying for 20 years, was named the Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2016 after becoming the first person to solo circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine seaplane.

Wing Commander Rob Gill, Commanding Officer of 21 Squadron, and Senior Australian Defence Force Officer at RAAF Base Point Cook, presented Mr Smith with a RAAF ensign to carry with him on his journey.

“We’re proud to present Mr Smith with this symbol of the Royal Australian Air Force to accompany him on his journey and look forward to welcoming him on his safe return next month,” Wing Commander Gill said. 

Follow Mr Smith as he retraces this historic journey at 



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