Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, aka "Smithy" - the pilot of the first trans-Pacific flight from the United States to Australia
Total Persons on Board:
|Pilot Charles Kingsford-Smith & co-pilot 'Tommy' Pethybridge in front of the Lady Southern Cross|
Two - "Smithy" and his co-pilot, John Thomas Pethybridge
The early morning of November 8, 1935
Clear and calm
Departed Allahabad, India, for a leg to Singapore. They were last spotted at 1:30 AM, over the city of Rangoon, Burma
Area Believed Crashed:
Over the Andaman Sea, west of Burma and Thailand, but east of the Andaman Islands
Reason for flight:
Record attempt, to break the England-Australia speed record
A Lockheed Altair monoplane, named Lady Southern Cross, and registered G-ADUS
After being reported overdue in Singapore, the search immediately begun.
In late November of 1935, the driver of a Siamese train reported that he had seen a plane crash in flames on a mountainside near Setul, on the border between Siam (now Thailand) and the federated Malay states (now Malaysia).
Despite a huge search of the entire Rangoon-Singapore route by RAF squadrons, and the aircraft carrier Hermes, no trace of the Altair was found, until...
In May of 1937, some 18 months after disappearance, the plane's starboard landing gear strut, still with its inflated tire, was picked up by Burmese fishermen on the shore of Aye Island - off the south coast of Burma, about 140 miles south-east of Rangoon. That piece is now on display at the Powerhouse Museum of Sydney, Australia.
Based on this evidence, an Australian engineer, and friend of Smith’s, T.F. "Jack" Hodder, went to Aye Island in January of 1938. There, he found additional pieces of wreckage he believed were from the Lady Southern Cross. He also noted a swath of broken tree tops on the island’s 480 foot tall peak which indicated, to him, that the plane could have struck the island, and crashed into the relatively shallow water just off the southern shore of the island.
However, no further evidence or trace of the plane was found.