“Historic Revival: Southern Cross Takes to the Skies Again After 12-Year Restoration”
ED: Video follows the article.
In a landmark aviation feat in 1928, the legendary Charles Kingsford Smith etched his name in history by completing the first-ever trans-Pacific flight from mainland US to Australia aboard the iconic Fokker F.VIIb/3m trimotor, famously known as the Southern Cross. Covering an astounding distance of approximately 11,670 kilometres (7,250 miles), this pioneering journey was a testament to human ingenuity and aviation prowess.
Fast forward to the present day, where the spirit of the Southern Cross has been resurrected in the form of a meticulously crafted replica. Constructed in South Australia over the span of seven years, from 1980 to 1987, this full-sized flying reproduction stands as the largest known replica aircraft in the world, paying homage to the golden age of aviation.
However, fate dealt a blow to the Southern Cross on May 25, 2002, when it suffered a severe takeoff accident, resulting in major structural damage. Undeterred by the setback, the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) stepped in, acquiring the historic aircraft from the South Australia Government in 2010. What followed was an exhaustive and intricate 12-year restoration effort by dedicated HARS volunteers, breathing new life into this aviation marvel.
The culmination of this laborious restoration journey was marked by the Southern Cross achieving airworthiness in the year 2023. On the historic day of December 8, 2023, the aircraft emerged from its cocoon of restoration, taking to the skies once again in a resplendent display of its revived glory. This momentous occasion was graced by a public flight demonstration that garnered widespread acclaim for its seamless execution and the remarkable dedication exhibited by the restoration team.
At the helm of this historic flight were esteemed Qantas pilots Bruce Simpson and Mark Thurstan, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to guide the Southern Cross through the skies. Their presence underscored the significance of this achievement, connecting the past and present of aviation history.
The rebirth of the Southern Cross stands not only as a tribute to Charles Kingsford Smith’s pioneering spirit but also as a testament to the unwavering commitment of the aviation community to preserve and celebrate the heritage of flight. The Southern Cross replica, now soaring through the skies once more, serves as a living testament to the indomitable human spirit and the enduring legacy of those who paved the way for aviation exploration.