He was courageous. He was ambitious. He was skilled. He was visionary. He could be ruthless. He was someone born of a new nation. But he was of a time now long past. And yet in the language of a later generation it could be said he had the "right stuff"… Michael Molkentin captures [Ross Smith] brilliantly.
- Andy Thomas, NASA Astronaut (Retired)
In the smouldering aftermath of the First World War a young Australian pilot and his crew prepare to attempt the inconceivable: a flight, half way around the globe, from England to Australia. The 18,000 kilometre odyssey will take 28 days and test these men and their twin-engine biplane to the limit. It is a trans-continental feat that will change the world and bring the air age to Australia. It will also prove to be the culminating act in the extraordinary and tragically brief life of its commander, Captain Sir Ross Smith.
Raised on a remote South Australian sheep station in the dying days of Australia's colonial frontier, there was little in Ross Smith's childhood that suggested a future as one of Australia's great pioneering aviators. He went to war in 1914, serving with the light horse at Gallipoli and in the Sinai before volunteering for the fledgling Australian Flying Corps. In a new dimension of warfare, Ross Smith survived two gruelling years of aerial combat over Palestine to emerge as one of the most skilled and highly decorated Australian pilots of the war. In 1919 he served as a pilot on the first ever mission to survey an air route from Cairo to the East Indies before gaining international fame as the winner of the Australian government's £10,000 prize for the first airman to fly from England to Australia. An attempt to exceed this by circumnavigating the world by air in 1922 would end in disaster and tragedy.
Drawing on the rich and extensive collection of Ross Smith's private papers, Anzac & Aviator tells, for the first time, the gripping story of a remarkable aviator, the extraordinary times in which he lived and the air race that changed the world.