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CANBERRA STARTS.

Widgeon Flight

Abandoned.

'PLANE FAILS ADEQUATELY TO "

RISE.

(BY OUn SPECIAL REPRESENTATIA-E.)

RICHMOND, Friday..

After additional delay the aeroplane Can« berra hopped off from Richmond Aerodrome this morning on the first stage of the flight to search for the crew of the missing Southern Cross. The Widgeon II, failed to respond satisfactorily, and Wlng-Commandor Wackett, unless he altars his mind, will not join In

the search.

"I am not prepared to undertake the flight," said Wing-Commander Wackett, who returned a quarter of an hour after setting out from the hangar this morning. "It Is unfair to ask the Widgeon to essay the task. After six months' Idleness, during which time Bhe has been dismantled and modified, she has not been through one test flight except on Thurs- day afternoon, when I took her for a five minutes' spin. I do not know what she will do. 1 do not even know her speed. In the runway this morning It took her 500 yards to rise. She Is too heavily loaded. She is tall heavy, and would not climb, although 1 had her engines going full out. It would be mad- ness to attempt to climb the Blue Mountains.

"Previously I flew 8000'miles on sheer luck. I am not prepared to do It again. If It takes so much effort for the Widgeon to rise on Richmond Aerodrome, how will I get on in rough unprepared country aerodromes? It Is

my Intention to telegraph to the Air Board that I have not sufficient confidence In tho machine to undertake the flight."

Wlng-Commander Wackett added that to set out with an overburdened maehiue to cross the desolate airways of central Australia would bo courting another disaster similar to that which befell the Southern Cross. Tho Widgeon was then pushed back into her

hangar.

BACK TO LAND.

There was probably no more disappointed man in the States than Wing-Coniniandor Wackett and his companions (Flying-Officer S. C. Campbell and Mechanic Plumb), when they were obliged to return to the aerodrome. At five minutes past 10 o'clock the pilot gave "contact," and after tiixl-tng for 600 yards the machine rose sluggishly in tho air. For a quarter of an hour the machino circled

overhead without nttalnlng more than lOUOft altitude. There was no hint that anything [was amiss until the Widgeon suddenly sivooped down and landed in front of tho hangar.

Wlng-Commander Wackett was anxious to make the trip. He had watched with intorest tho modifications which hnd boen made to tho Widgeon, and was given but tivo days' notice In which to prepare for the flight. Mechanics »vorked on tho strange looking craft day long and night long until she was assembled and ready for the air. On Thursday sho was ready, and the short trial flight was taken in her. She seemed buoyant and stable, and In all ivays satisfactory, but when she was asked to carry the full load of three passengers and cargo, she »vould not climb. Other airmen, it is well known, de- cline to embark upon long flights until they have spent days, even weeks, In trial and test flights.

Before ho started, Wlng-Commander Wackett stated that it was his intention to fly by way of Broken Hill, Cooke, and Kal- goorlie, Avhllo Captain Les Holden in the Can- berra took the more direct route across tho centre of the continent and along the tele graph line.

INTO THE SOUTH-WEST.

An hour earlier the Canberra set out in a thick baie, and «vas quickly lost to sight. At 6 o'clock there was a number of people at th» aeródromo In expectation of seeing tho two 'planes set out together. It was not until au hour later, however, that Captain Holden ar- rived, just as mechanics had completed the last adjustment to the wireless equipment. The 'plane was taken aloft to test the radio In tne air, and it «vas found to be satisfactory. After breakfast farewells were made, and at 9.5 the Canberra left tho ground. She circlod overhead for a few nilnule-i and drove south- west into the blanket of grey haze that almost obliterated tho palo peaks of tho Blue Moun- tains. Captain Holden was apparently search Ing for a break In tho mist. It was not con- sidered likely that the Canberra would pene- trate far into the centre of the continent, mid Parkes was mentioned ns a probable stopping place by Captain Holden. He said that he would attempt to reach Hay If possible, or

Cootamundra.

Before the Canberra left the weather was reported to be boisterous. There was a stronsr south-westerly .wind blowing, low scud, and dense dust haze, «vlth a three miles visibility. The "plane carried lS251b or about 2001b less than her registered capacity. The, call sign of the Canberra Is VMZAG and the wavu length

29.9 metres.

PE'fUOL SUPrUES*

During the night Captain Hnltlen was In- formed that petrol supplies were avnllablo on the central route. There was no-guarantee that It was aviation spirit, hut there appeared to bo an abundance of fuel of kinds for the Cnnberra. It was his Intention to strike out for Broken Hill beforo refuelling, and make thence for bodnndnttn or Maree-Wackett haj been warned agnlnst Oodnadatta- and thou strike along the trans-contincntnl tolegraph line, evontuully branching off for Wyndham

"If any are determined to lind the South- ern Cross It Is we" said Captain Holden be- foro setting out. "We have a flue machine, a perfect radio sot, and hope."

CANBERRA REFUELS AT PARKES.

PARKES. Friday.

The Canberra landed hore to replenish petrol supplies. She met with strong henil ninds. The 'plane resumed the journey after fuelling, and expects to r*aoh Medindie by

night.

ARRIVES AT RROKEN HILL.

BROKEN HILL, Friday.

The Canberra arrived hore at 6.4B p.m., and the aviators began Immediate urgent Inquiries concerning the petrol depots and landing places ahead, being apparently »vlthout nerlai maps or other knoivlodge reoulred for a quick night to Wyndham.

They Intend leaving early to-morro»v for Maree, and from there »»ill go to Noivcnstlo Waters, thence across country to Wyndham, where they »»ill get further lnstructiona.

Their hops will be a3 long as possible, with a limit of about 800 miles.

On the flight to Broken Hill they en- countered strong head winds all the way, with low visibility due to dust in the air.

The Canberra made a wonderfully good flight yesterday, despite rather difficult Avoather conditions, and landed at Broken Hill shortly after ß o'clock.

Captain Holden landed at Parkes for re- fuelling and luncheon, and left again »vtthin an hour In the anticipation that tho beat ,that h could do »vould be to reach Ivanhoe or Menindio. Ho actually sent a messnge . from tho air that ho anticipated he would

land at Menindie, but after flying over Con- dobolin he stated there »vns a possibility of his reaching Broken Hill, and he was push- ing- on there.

A message was later sent to the Broken HIL aerodrome to have preparations made for the landing, which was done. The final message from the Canberra in the air yester- day was timed 6.B8, and the landing Avas safely made a few minutes later.

CANBERRA'S MOVEMENTS.

Mr. Hendy, Deputy Town Clerk, and secre- tary of the Citizens' Committee, Avas last night in communication »vith Captain Chateau, Avho gave a detailed account of the

search conducted during the day. j

Mr. Hendy furnished Captain Chateau with particulars of the Canberra's night, and made ii clenr that the desire of tho citizens was to co-opernto in the search. He emphasised that tho Canberra on arrival at Wyndham Avould be under the control of Captain

Chateau.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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