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Postal Numismatic Covers
2001 $1 RAAF UNC
75th Anniversary of the First Correspondence Carried By Air to the Pacific Islands
|In 1926 the Australian Government announced that a Royal Australian Air Force aeroplane under the command of the Chief Of Air Staff, Group Captain R. Williams, would visit British possessions in the south-west Pacific. It was to be the first overseas flight by the R.A.A.F. and it would encompass Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, Fiji and Western Samoa. Only a portion of the route was completed.
|The flight is of interest to aero philatelists because a bag of
mail caried included illustrated covers. This was the first time that specially
printed covers (as distinct from postcards) were carried on an Australian Air Mail
flight. In addition to philatelic mail taken on the full course of the flight and
returned to Australia, some mail was delivered to territories along the route and small
quantities were also accepted at these places. In all probability no more than 50
mail articles were carried
The R.A.A.F.'s first overseas flight was an important achievement in its day and it had a great influence on the places visited. At Samarai and a number of other stops it was the first time that the inhabitants had seen an aeroplane, twelve uncharted rivers were sighted in New Britain and the DH50A was the first aircraft to visit the Solomon Islands.
|The flight is commanded by Cliff Hodges, and three young Australians who are qualified pilots make up the crews. They are:- Janine Vadala, 19 years, who is profoundly deaf and is Young Australian of the Year, Vince Nicotra, 18 years, who is a qualified flying instructor, and David Windle, a student at The Southport School on the Gold Coast.
|A special postmarker has bee issued to Werribee Post Office, the
closest post office to R.A.A.F. Base Williams at Point Cook, for the re-enactment flight
departing there on 25th September 2001 in three Cessna C208 aircraft (the Command aircraft
This was issued by The Airmail Society, with the $1 coin still in the RAAF folder as issued by the RAM glued inside the cover.
The cover has the signatures of Cliff Hodges and Arthur Bergen, and like the original flight was unable to complete its full journey due to Civil Unrest in the Solomon Islands.