One hundred years after the first aeroplane landed in Alice Springs, today's aviators are being invited to the central Australian city to celebrate the centenary.
It was on 5 October 1921 that aviation pioneer Frank Briggs, Francis Birtles and mechanic George Bailey landed on a prepared field outside Alice Springs in a de Havilland DH-4. The flight from Melbourne had taken them 10 days, but proved the heart of Australia could be opened up by aircraft.
Organised by the Central Australian Aviation Museum, the centenary celebrations are scheduled over four days from 2-5 October this year and include official receptions and dinners, museum tours, a film festival, special displays and a re-enactment of the first arrival.
The museum is inviting aviators to recreate the route Briggs, Birtles and Bailey took 100 years ago to arrive at Alice Springs just in time for the festivities to kick off. Beginning in Moorabbin (the actual first flight departed from Port Melbourne), aircraft following the route will track via Adelaide, Maree and Oodnadatta to be completely faithful.
The original flight was an epic journey that started on 26 September and generated great interest in the general public. Towns en route telegraphed progress to the world as the de Havilland flew over head. Despite encounters with rough weather and an irate eagle, and an engine failure short of Oodnadatta, Briggs described the land en route as safe flying country.
More details on the centenary celebrations including the event program are on the Central Australian Aviation Museum website.