A missing aviator – Charles Kingsford Smith

If you can give any information…which will help to find them you will receive a large reward of money.

By the early 1930s, Charles Kingsford Smith had achieved international fame for his exploits in long-distance flight, and had been knighted for his contribution to the development of the Australian aviation industry.

In 1935 (at age 38) he was not in the best of health; but was keen to go on demonstrating that the future of world transport was in aviation. He arranged for the plane Lady Southern Cross to be shipped to England. From there, with J. T. Pethybridge, he took off on 6 November 1935, aiming to make one more record-breaking flight to Australia. It was not to be – the plane and both airmen were lost; believed to have crashed into the sea somewhere off the coast of Burma while flying at night towards Singapore.
The report from the Air Commodore of the Royal Air Force, Far East shows that every effort was made to locate the famous missing aviator and his plane, including offering a reward to any ‘natives’ that could provide useful information. The inclusion of these papers in the Probate records is likely to be due to the need to have a sound basis for the assumption that a missing person was actually dead (thus facilitating the granting of probate).
Kingsford Smith was survived by his wife and son and left an estate valued for probate at £12,875.

Source: NRS 13660 Supreme Court: Probate packets, 1817-
Selected documents from Packet for Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, missing 8 November 1935, subsequently presumed dead: Series 4, packet no. 212687 Report dated 27 November 1935 from RAF Headquarters Far East Singapore on search for Smith and Captain Pethybridge. Text of leaflet offering reward for information on the fate of the missing airmen.

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