Peace Loan Aeroplane crashes in Gympie (1919)

 Wreck of the Peace Loan aeroplane at Gympie. The photograph shows the machine after it had been cut down. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 702692-19190927-0026

Wreck of the Peace Loan Aeroplane at Gympie. The photograph shows the machine after it had been cut down. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 702692-19190927-0026

On September 17, 1919, there was great excitement in Gympie on the arrival of the Peace Loan Aeroplane, the first aircraft to fly into the town. It left Brisbane late morning, stopping at Nambour for an hour before continuing on to Gympie, arriving at 12:52pm.

Arrival at Nambour. From Page 26 of the Queenslander Pictorial, supplement to The Queenslander, 27 September, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 702692-19190927-0026

Arrival at Nambour. From Page 26 of the Queenslander Pictorial, supplement to The Queenslander, 27 September, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 702692-19190927-0026

After the plane was spotted by a lookout on the fire station tower, the Gympie Times reported: “The firebell immediately rang out the news, and it was not long before all Gympie was watching the first flying machine arrive”.

The plane landed gracefully on the racecourse. On-board was Flight Commander Francis Smith and his passenger John James Knight, managing director of the Brisbane Newspaper Company, publishers of the Brisbane Courier. They were welcomed by Mayor William Sedgman as a crowd of onlookers gave them three cheers.

Flight Commander Francis Smith. Queenslander Pictorial, supplement to The Queenslander, 20 September, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Libary of Queensland. Image 702692-19190920-0023

Flight Commander Francis Smith. Queenslander Pictorial, supplement to The Queenslander, 20 September, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Libary of Queensland. Image 702692-19190920-0023

The first Brisbane to Gympie air post was handed over, which included bundles of the Courier and a letter to Mayor Sedgman from his Brisbane counterpart, Charles Buchanan, also then chairman of the Queensland Peace Loan Committee. “The citizens of Brisbane send greetings to the citizens of Gympie. We wish you every success in your efforts to raise your quota for the Peace Loan”. An immediate appeal for subscriptions to the Peace Loan raised £3,000. An additional appeal was made that evening at the city’s Olympia Theatre, raising an additional £2,570.

Wreckage of a peace loan aeroplane that crashed in Gympie 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 189582

Wreckage of a Peace Loan Aeroplane that crashed in Gympie 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 189582

After lunch, the aeroplane was to continue on to Maryborough but crashed into a stringbark tree on takeoff. A crowd quickly gathered at the site and were so relieved that the occupants were uninjured they gave a hearty cheer.

Wreckage of the Peace Loan plane which crashed in Gympie 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 177705

Wreckage of the Peace Loan Aeroplane which crashed in Gympie 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 177705

Crowd waiting for the arrival of the Peace Loan Aeroplane, which never arrived. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 702692-19190927-0026

Crowd waiting for the arrival of the Peace Loan Aeroplane, which never arrived. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 702692-19190927-0026

Further reading:

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland