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The MacRobertson Trophy Air Race took place October, 1934 as part of the Melbourne Centenary celebrations. The idea of the race was devised by the Lord Mayor of Melbournemarker, and a prize fund of $75,000 was put up by Sir Macpherson Robertson, a wealthy Australian confectionery manufacturer, on the conditions that the race be named after his MacRobertson confectionery company, and that it be organised to be as safe as possible.

MacRobertson Air Race poster, 1934
The race was organised by the Royal Aero Club, and would run from RAF Mildenhallmarker in East Angliamarker to Flemington Racecoursemarker, Melbourne, approximately 11,300 miles.There were 5 compulsory stops at Baghdadmarker, Allahabadmarker, Singaporemarker, Darwinmarker and Charleville, Queenslandmarker, otherwise the competitors could choose their own routes. A further 22 optional stops were provided with stocks of fuel and oil by Shell and Stanavo. The Royal Aero Club put some effort into persuading the countries along the route to improve the facilities at the stopping points.

The basic rules were: no limit to the size of aircraft or power, no limit to crew size, no pilot to join aircraft after it left England. Aircraft must carry three days' rations per crew member, floats, smoke signals and efficient instruments. There were prizes for the outright fastest aircraft, and for the best performance on a handicap formula by any aircraft finishing within 16 days.

Take off date was set at dawn (6:30), October 20 1934. By then, the initial field of over 60 had been whittled down to 20, including the 3 purpose-built de Havilland DH.88 Comet racers, two of the new generation of American all-metal passenger transports, and a mixture of earlier racers, light transports and old bombers.

First off the line, watched by a crowd of 60,000, were Jim & Amy Mollison in the Comet Black Magic, and they were early leaders in the race until forced to retire at Allahabad with engine trouble. This left the scarlet Comet Grosvenor House, flown by Flight Lt. Charles Scott and Captain Tom Campbell Black, well ahead of the field. This racer went on to win in a time of less than 3 days, despite flying the last stage with one engine throttled back because of an oil-pressure indicator giving a faulty low reading.

Replica of the KLM DC-2 Uiver (At present the only flying DC-2 in the world)
Perhaps more significantly in the development of popular long-distance air travel, the second and third places were taken by passenger transports, with the KLM Douglas DC-2 Uiver gaining a narrow advantage over Roscoe Turner's Boeing 247-D, both completing the course less than a day behind the winner. Later that year 1934, the "Uiver" crashed near Rutbah Wells, now known as Ar Rutba, Iraqmarker.

The most dramatic part of the race was when the Uiver, hopelessly lost after becoming caught in a thunderstorm, ended up over Albury, New South Walesmarker . The townsfolk responded magnificently - a postal clerk, Mr R.J. Turner, went to the power station and signalled "Albury" to the plane by turning the town lights on and off, and Arthur Newnham, the announcer on radio station 2CO Corowamarker, appealed for cars to line up on the racecourse to light up a runway for the plane . The plane landed, and next morning was pulled out of the mud by locals to fly on and win the handicap section of the race. In gratitude KLM made a large donation to Albury Hospital and Alf Waugh, the Mayor of Albury, was awarded a title in Dutch nobility .

Official Finishing Order
Aircraft type Identity Race
Crew Country of origin Notes
DH.88 Comet
'Grosvenor House'
G-ACSS 34 C.W.A. Scott,
Tom Campbell Black
Britain Elapsed time 71 h 0 min
Douglas DC-2
PH-AJU 44 K.D. Parmentier,

Moll, B.


Van Brugge

Netherlands Elapsed time 90 h 13 min
Winner on handicap
Boeing 247D
'Warner Bros.

NR257Y 5 Roscoe Turner,
Clyde Edward Pangborn,
Reeder Nichols

United States Elapsed time 92 h 55 min
DH.88 Comet G-ACSR 39 O. Cathcart Jones,

Britain Elapsed time 108 h 13 min
Miles M.2F Hawk Major ZK-ADJ 2 S/Ldr. M. McGregor,

New Zealand Elapsed time 7 d 14 h
Fastest single-engined
Airspeed AS.5 Courier G-ACJL 14 S/Ldr. D. Stodart,

Pilot K.

Britain Elapsed time 9 d 18 h
DH.80 Puss Moth
'My Hildegarde'
VH-UQO 16 C.J. 'Jimmy' Melrose Australia Elapsed time 10 d 16 h
Second on handicap
Desoutter Mk.II OY-DOD 7 Lt. M. Hansen,

Denmark Arrived October 31
DH.89 Dragon Rapide
ZK-ACO 60 J.D. Hewitt,

Kay, F.

New Zealand Arrived November 3
Not classified
Miles M.3 Falcon G-ACTM 31 H.L. Brook,
Miss E.

Lay (passenger)
Britain Arrived November 20
Fairey IIIF G-AABY 15 F/O C.G. Davies,


Britain Arrived November 24
Fairey Fox I G-ACXO 35 Ray Parer,

Australia Withdrew from race at Parismarker.
Eventually reached Melbourne February 13, 1935
Lambert Monocoupe 145
Baby Ruth
NC501W 33 J.H. Wright,

Polando Warner
United States Withdrew at Calcuttamarker
DH.88 Comet
'Black Magic'
G-ACSP 63 Jim Mollison,
Amy Johnson
Britain From Karachi, Mollison lost his way, and landed at Jubulpur. No high-octane fuel available, filled up with petrol. Engines "burned out" on flight to Allahabad.
Pander S4
PH-OST 6 G.J. Geysendorffer,

Asjes, P.

Netherlands Destroyed in ground collision at Allahabadmarker.
B.A. Eagle
'The Spirit of Wm.
Shaw & Co Ltd'

G-ACVU 47 F/Lt. G. Shaw Britain Withdrew at Bushiremarker
Lockheed Vega
G-ABGK 36 J. Woods,

Australia Overturned on landing at Aleppomarker, withdrew
Airspeed AS.8 Viceroy G-ACMU 58 N. Stack,

Britain Withdrew with brake trouble at Athensmarker
Granville R-6H
NX14307 46 Miss J. Cochran,

Smith Pratt
United States Withdrew with malfunctioning flaps, after landing damage at Bucharestmarker
Fairey Fox I G-ACXX 62 H.D. Gilman,

Britain Crashed near Palazzo San Gervasio in Italymarker; both crew killed

See also



  • Lewis, Peter. 1970. British Racing and Record-Breaking Aircraft. Putnam ISBN 0370000676

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