1953 London to Christchurch Air Race

For the October 1953 London, UK-Christchurch, NZ Air Race
DCA established a press and radio Information Centre, shown in this photo, in the basement of its HQ at Henty House, Melbourne. The map shows the routes planned by various competitors, and flanking it on either side were tally boards showing the progress of competitors in the Speed and Handicap Sections.

In meetings leading up to the race, DCA agreed to arrange for the installation of telephones for the press, but the press were to pay the associated costs. A departmental navigation officer worked with representatives of the competing organisations to obtain the latest information quickly and accurately. The Australian Broadcasting Commission provided a direct line to their Mont Park short wave station and fed race broadcasts from other parts of the world to the Melbourne Information Centre.

< The Air Race was big news in 1953. The October 1953 issue of Qantas Empire Airways, Qantas' house journal, was entirely given over to coverage of the forthcoming race although QEA did not have an entry (and it's arch-rival KLM did!).

(Magazine: Qantas/CAHS collection - 27.2 x 20 cm, 16pp.)

In the end there were only eight starters in the race. The photo below shows the Speed Section tally board at the conclusion of the race. The five entries in this section were all English Electric Canberras, three reconnaisance versions entered by the RAF and two bomber versions entered by the RAAF. The Canberra PR.3 WE139 (radio callsign RAFAIR MMLY) was the outright winner with a time of 23 hrs 51 mins 7.2 sec. RAAF Canberra B.20 A84-201 (VMZIPA) came second.


Tally board speed

The three entries in the Handicap Section were Douglas DC-6A PH-TGA Dr Ir M.H. Damme of KLM, RNZAF Handley Page Hastings transport NZ5804 (withdrawn at Colombo, Ceylon) and the BEA Vickers Viscount G-AMAV. The KLM aircraft won the Handicap Section, as shown on the tally board below, with a time of 37 hrs 30 min. Of interest are the different routes taken by each competitor.


Tally board handicap


1953 Air Race

Click on the icons at left and right to download articles about the Air Race from the Civil Aviation Journal, Vol.3, No.3 of December 1953.

(These are .pdf files)

1953 Air Race

(Photos: CAHS collection)

Click here to see a photo of Viscount G-AMAV at Essendon after the Air Race

Read Fifty Years Ago - 1953

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