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.
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.
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.
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.
- Brisbane From The Air: Illustrated (1919) – aerial photographs of Brisbane taken from the Peace Loan Aeroplane
Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland