Stories of two great Australian Adventurers

Neil Armstrong (Courtesy NASA)

Neil Armstrong (Courtesy NASA)

Explorers and adventurers take enormous risks.

At the time when these intrepid souls embarked on  their quests, most people considered that the cost of the risk outweighed the benefit of the discovery or record.   It’s only when the adventurists returned successful that the doomsayers and critics turned to supporters.

What would our world be like today had there been no explorers or adventurists?

I’d like to address two great adventurists who have changed the world.



Dick Smith

Dick Smith epitomises the character of an intrepid adventurer.

Having flown helicopters for many years, I would never have flown a single engine Bell Jet Ranger helicopter over extensive expanses of water, finding and rendezvousing with a ship to refuel in the rough and foul weathered north Atlantic Ocean (with no alternate landing pad other than ditching!).

Coral with Dick and Pip Smith at their Bowylie property.

Coral with Dick and Pip Smith at their Bowylie property.

Dick did, I would not, and that is why I am not an adventurer!

We have to treasure the outliers in society, whether they be generous, kind, inspirational, eccentric, charismatic or adventurists – for they all add colour and soul to our world.   They are fun to be around and they normally hold values and beliefs that we aspire to attain – that make our (exciting) world turn around.  It turns out that Dick exhibits many of these great traits.

So it is with pleasure that I pass on the details of an evening at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney where Dick Smith will present the story on the 30th Anniversary of his world record flight:

The Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo (Sydney) is hosting an evening of Monday 22 July 2013 to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Dick Smith completing the world’s first solo circumnavigation of the world in a rotary wing aircraft.

Update – 14 September 2014

Click here to read Christine Negroni’s blog about her flight with Dick

Pip Smith, Dick Smith, Coral, Sophia de C, Christine Negroni (Photo: Christine)

Pip Smith, Dick Smith, Coral, Sophia de C, Christine Negroni (Photo: Christine)

Bert Hinkler

Bert HinklerIf you enjoy Dick’s story, then you will surely enjoy a story about another famous adventurer – Bert Hinkler.

I have just written a review of a wonderful new book called “Hustler Hinkler”, a true Australian adventurer that set many aviation records.  The book should be released soon and my review states:

A gripping story of an intrepid country boy who followed his dreams, designed, built and tested aircraft, set world records and as a result changed the world’s expectation of global travel from months at sea to less than fifteen days via air.

Hinkler’s trail blazing achievements match those of Kingsford Smith and Lindbergh, except that Bert operated as a one-horse team, without radios, and alone!

Superbly written (with a surprising end-twist), “Hustling Hinkler” shows how unbridled passion for man, machine and humanity trumps fear, doubt, and complacency.

I am proud to fly Qantas’ tenth A380 named “Bert Hinkler”, honouring his legacy, overflying his route in just sixteen hours and proving his forecast that planes would “fly the ships off the sea”.

I’ll release an update when the book is released.

Brisbane Airport should be named “Bert Hinkler International”  (Peter Ford)

VH-OQJ, Bert Hinkler (Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)

VH-OQJ, Named “Bert Hinkler” (Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)


  1. […] a giant leap this is for mankind when we consider that Bert Hinkler in 1928 took 16 days to complete his record breaking solo flight from the UK to Australia in his […]

  2. Mandy Squair · · Reply

    Hi Richard,

    I’ve booked to come and hear Dick Smith talk on the evening of 22 July. Looking forward to it.

    Just wondering if you and Coral are able to be there too?

    With best wishes, Mandy

    1. Hi Mandy,

      I had hoped to be able to attend Dick Smith’s extraordinary evening, but Coral and I must now attend a special function in Canberra. I wish you a great and enjoyable evening!


      1. Mandy Squair · ·

        Hi Richard, Sorry to miss you in Sydney. I am from Canberra. It would be wonderful to meet you both one day. Perhaps if you come to Canberra to a public function, could you let me know? Thankyou very much. With best wishes, Mandy

      2. Mandy Squair · ·

        Hi Richard,

        I forgot to tell you that through the Canberra Visitors Centre where I volunteer, I had the opportunity and a special price to go in a Boeing 737 simulator. An amazing experience. Loved it, though a bit nerve racking at the time! So much to do at every moment! Pushing those throttles forward, letting the brakes off, and off down the runway is amazing! I have even more admiration for pilots now!

        One question please –

        Taxiing out to the beginning of the runway, one uses the rudder pedals to steer the plane. I found it very difficult to keep the plane tracking along the runway centreline. The aircraft was very slow to respond, and when it finally did, it was almost on the grass before it realised that I had pushed the other rudder to try and even it up. It was a relief to get back in my car afterwards and have instant response! I guess-realise that a 737 compared to a car is the same as semi trailer is to a car?

        How do the rudders know that on the ground, they are being used to steer the plane with the nose wheel; but in the air, that they are being used to steer the plane via the rudder on the tail?

        I was at Canberra Airport yesterday and watched a 737 taxiing out to the runway, but didn’t see the rudder on the tail move at all while it was taxiing and turning onto the runway, for instance, so the rudders in the cockpit aren’t moving both the nose wheel and the tail at the same time ?? Look forward to hearing from you again, Mandy

      3. Mandy yours is a simple question that is complicated to answer!

        On non FBW (QF32 page 118) aircraft, the rudder is connected by cables, bell cranks or rods to the steerable nosewheel, so they both work in unison. In this case, when you taxi on the ground you will see the rudder move with the nosewheel steering even though the rudder is not contributing any substantial turning moment.

        In FBW aircraft, the relationship (connectivity gain) of the nosewheel steering to the rudder changes under computer control.

        For example:
        1. Rudder Pedals: On the ground, as you slow from 150 knots to zero, maximum pedal deflection moves the A380 nosewheel steering from zero degrees (150 knots) to just six degrees (100 kts and slower)
        2. Nosewheel Tiller: On the ground, as you slow from 100 knots to zero, maximum tiller deflection moves the A380 nosewheel steering from zero degrees (100 knots) to seventy degrees (40 kts and slower).
        3. To make it even more complex, on the ground, the A380’s rudders automatically assist the pilot when differential braking is applied above 50 knots!
        4. To make it even more complex, the A380’s Heading Control Function automatically uses up to 3 degrees of nosewheel steering to maintain track when hands are off the tiller below < 50 kts. So in a strong crosswind takeoff, you will need no tiller or rudder input till 50 kts (when it must be introduced!)
        5. To make it even more complex, in flight, the rudders automatically move (without pedal feedback) to ballance forces when turning!
        6. To make it even more complex, in flight, full rudder pedal deflection moves the rudders by varying amounts to limit tail fin forces and prevent fin overtresss-departures at high speed!
        7. Finally to make it even more complex, in flight, the A380’s rudders move automatically as part of the “dance of the ailerons and rudders” (QF32 page 129).

        So you might now understand that to fly the new automated aircraft, you have to understand these (automatic) inputs that help you when the systems are all working, but know how to fly a raw (manual transmission car) machine when these systems fail.

        When all is working, some pilots might even think flying is easy (permitting the non-professionals to become complacent). When it's broken, it's very complex and confusing. That’s when you have to pool your knowledge, training and experience to recover the failed machine.

        Failures occur frequently – and that's the life of a professional pilot – to be prepared, anticipate – to be bullet proof and not gun shy!


      4. Mandy Squair · ·

        Hi Rich, thankyou very much for your reply! So, just to say it again simply (!) – in non FBW aircraft, the rudders move both nosewheel and tail rudder. But in FBW aircraft, such as the A380 and the B737, the computer complicates this! You mention the “tiller”. (So this is different to the yoke, of course?) The tiller is just used on the ground for steering? Am I right in saying that the rudders are used on the ground to steer the nosewheel between 0 and 6 degrees and the tiller is used to steer the nosewheel between 0 and 70 degrees for tighter corners – between 0 and 100/150 kts ? The tiller wasn’t mentioned to me in the 737 simulator. Was this why I couldn’t keep the plane to the centre of the taxi way? I didn’t have that versatility? Sorry, Rich, just trying to understand, but it is probably so complicated to someone who hasn’t piloted an aircraft, let alone a jet! With best wishes, Mandy

  3. Mike Edwards · · Reply

    ATSB Findings 6.3 Congratulations Richard!
    ” • The crew’s decision to perform a precautionary disembarkation via the stairs likely provided the safest option, particularly given the low immediate safety threat and the elevated risks associated with an emergency evacuation into a potentially hazardous external environment.
    • The flight and cabin crew managed the event as a competent team in accordance with standard operating procedures and practices.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: