Aussie film-maker finds plane wreck

22 03 2009

OK. I know this is not exactly a motivational piece. But I couldn’t resist putting it on here: the aircraft wreckage of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, who crashed and disappeared off the coast of Burma in 1935, has been found! The intrepid treasure-hunter is award-winning film-maker Damien Lay, one of my commercial insurance clients. Arranging the insurance for a search expedition like this involves LOTS of work, but was interesting all the same.  Hearing of the operation’s success, I couldn’t help but feel a glow of delight wash over me as a behind-the-scenes participant. Now to call Damien to congratulate him! Here’s the article from Sydney Morning Herald…



Kingsford Smith mystery ‘solved’

  • March 21, 2009 – 12:50PM
Charles Kingsford Smith
Charles Kingsford Smith

To the untrained eye the sonar images are a little blurry. But Sydney filmmaker Damien Lay says he is 100 per cent certain he has found the final resting place of Australian aviation pioneer Sir Charles Kingsford Smith off the coast of Burma. If so, he will have solved one of aviation’s greatest mysteries.

Sir Charles and his co-pilot Tommy Pethybridge disappeared without trace in 1935 while attempting to break the record for a flight between England and Australia in the Lady Southern Cross. Nearly 75 years later, Mr Lay believes he has solved what he called Australia’s “last great mystery” with he and his search team locating the wreckage of the Lady Southern Cross off the Burmese coast on February 24. During the five day search, which involved 63 dives and sonar tracking, Mr Lay said he found the wreckage under 20 metres of water and mud in a bay of remote Aye Island.

The “smoking gun” backing his finding is the unique design of the Lady Southern Cross, a Lockheed Altair. Details of the plane recorded in sonar imaging matched that of the Altair, Mr Lay told reporters at a news conference in Sydney on Saturday morning. “The Altair itself is a very unique aircraft, there were, I think, only four Altairs built,” he said. “If it is a Lockheed Altair it wouldn’t be anything other than the Lady Southern Cross and the aircraft flown by Kingsford Smith.”

Mr Lay said the plane’s state of preservation, as a result of it being covered in mud, meant the remains of Sir Charles and Mr Pethybridge might also be found. The filmmaker said he would now seek confirmation that the wreck is an Altair from Lockheed in Australia and the United States. He plans to mount a recovery operation in November this year.




One response

2 04 2009

Hi Quinton

There is some great forum articles here on Mr Lays find, it really paints a good picture of the film pioneer. I bet your glad to be a part of it now.

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