31st of May 1928
Updated: May 31, 2021
93 years ago on this day in aviation history a Fokker F.VIIb/3m, named Southern Cross, took off from Oakland, California, USA. Destination, the city of Brisbane on the east coast of Australia. Piloted by Charles E. Kingsford - Smith and Charles Ulm the Fokker .VIIb/3m had a Take-off weight of about 15.000 lbs, which included 45 gallons of oil and 700 gallons of fuel. They were not the only ones on board, also a navigator (Harry Lyon) and a radio operator (James Warner) were on board. They would fly in three stages from Oakland and Brisbane.
The first one was from Oakland to Hawaii where they landed 27 1/2 hours after take-off covering 2400 miles. Of these 2400 miles, approximately 2000 miles were navigated by dead reckoning due to equipment failure.
The second leg was 3200 miles from Hawaii to Fiji, a tough flight with strong (head)winds and terrible storms. Afterwards, Kingsford-Smith revealed that a big part of the flight was flown just above the waves to be out of the storms.
The final stage would be from Fiji to Brisbane, 1800 miles in terrible weather. But they made it and were welcomed by ~300.000 people when they landed more the 83 hours after take-off.
The Fokker .VIIb/3m was based on the single engine F.VII. It made its first flight on the 4th of September 1925 powered by 200 hp (149 kW) Wright J-4 Whirlwind radial engines. Only about 18 "real" Fokker .VIIb/3m were build. while many F.VIIa's were modified to Fokker .VIIb/3m.