First Regular International Air Mail Service - 1934

December 10, 1934 saw the opening of the first regular air mail service between Australia and England. Previously only experimental air mails had been flown internationally from Australia. The service was to be operated by Qantas Empire Airways (QEA), a newly formed company jointly owned by the old Q.A.N.T.A.S. and the English firm Imperial Airways. QEA had won the tender offered by the CAB for this subsidised route against stiff opposition from Norman Brearley and Charles Ulm.

QEA were to operate the Brisbane-Singapore section of the route, whilst Imperials were to operate between Singapore and London. QEA intended to use DH86 aircraft, however due to airworthiness concerns they were forced to open the service using aircraft from their existing fleet. Furthermore, until the DH86s could enter service, QEA trans-shipped the mail to Imperial Airways at Darwin.

The photo above shows QEA Managing Director Hudson Fysh, HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and QEA Flight Superintendent Lester Brain (who piloted the first flight) at the inauguration ceremony at Brisbane's Archerfield aerodrome. The aircraft in the background is QEA DH61 VH-UJC Diana. Behind the Duke, half obscured, is A.E. Rudder, vice-Chairman and the Imperial Airways appointee to the QEA Board. Between Rudder and Brain is Sir Leslie Wilson, Governor of Queensland.

(Photo: The Telegaph/CAHS-Edgar Johnston collection)


The photo at left shows the propeller of DH61 VH-UJC being pulled through before starting for the inaugural international air mail service. The gentleman pulling the prop is the Controller of Civil Aviation himself, Edgar Johnston.

(Photo: Geo T Row/CAHS-Edgar Johnston collection)


Due to the volume of mail to be carried, the inaugural service was actually operated by two aircraft. Seen taxying at Archerfield shortly before 10.00 am on 10 December 1934 is QEA DH61 Giant Moth VH-UJC Diana under command of Lester Brain, followed by DH50J VH-ULG Hippomenes commanded by Russell Tapp. Between them they carried 1,267 pounds 4.75 ounces of mail in fifty bags.

In the background, an escort comprising a flight of RAAF Bristol Bulldog fighters warms up.

Click here to see a Christmas card to CABs Edgar Johnston flown on the first inwards mail service.

(Photo: Geo T Row/CAHS-Edgar Johnston collection)

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