Beach Joy Flights

Beach Joy Flights

Imagine having a joy flight, taking off along the beach.

Pioneer aviator, Bill Smith was born in Norwood and after serving in World War I returned to Adelaide in 1923. Over the next two years he took passengers for joy flights in his Avro ‘Skylark’ aeroplane using the beach in front of the hotel for take-off and landing.

Usually there was a good strip of beach for taking-off and he made fifteen trips a day, with two passengers each time. On one day however, as he prepared to make the last flight of the day at 6 o’clock, he noticed the rising tide had narrowed the strip of beach. The crowd watching the proceedings had become quite large - mainly composed of children who did not heed Smith's warning to stay clear as he began to taxi along the beach.

Instead of giving way, the crowd surged forward as the Skylark started to move, and to avoid a collision Smith deflected his machine and ran it into the shallow water. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but had it not been for the coolness and resourcefulness shown by the pilot there might have been a different ending.

He told 'The Advertiser' newspaper reporter that:

"....... he knew he would damage the machine when he drove it into the water, but it was the only thing to do. It was a case of an accident to the machine or the crowd.”

After serving in WW I and suffering Spanish Flu another pioneering aviator, Horrie Miller, returned to Australia. He worked with an aviation barnstorming group, most of whom were ex-WW I pilots. Horrie operated a Curtiss Seagull Seaplane which also gave joyrides from this beach.