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I hope you enjoy seeing this envelope and the following little bit of history associated with the flight and the aviator. An Australia Post prepaid envelope commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Sir Francis Chichester’s solo flight across the Tasman Sea from New Zealand to Australia in his modified (as a sea plane) de Havilland dh60 Gipsy Moth bi-plane. His flight was the first to complete the east to west flight across the Tasman. Another amazing aviation achievement.

This from the Lord Howe Island Museum:  On 31 March 1931 Francis Chichester set out from the Northern tip of New Zealand to attempt the first solo crossing of the Tasman Sea from East to West by aeroplane, in his floatplane Madam Elijah ZK-AKK. He had to island-hop to Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island to fuel the aircraft. He landed at Lord Howe Island late on the afternoon of 1st April and moored his seaplane in the lagoon. Next morning he awoke to a gale, and the sight of his aircraft upside down. With the help of the island men and women he repaired the aircraft over a period of 9 weeks, and continued to Jervis Bay, south of Sydney on 10th June. This was quite a feat, when on the island at that time there were no motor vehicles, let alone experienced aircraft mechanics.

Perhaps what is even more interesting about his flight was the belief that he had seen a UFO (Unidentified Flying Object). Such a term was not known back in 1931 but Chichester’s later account of his experience is of a UFO.   This from his book, “The Lonely Sea and the Sky”, recalling his flight after take-off from Lord How Island June 10th 1931

“Round the storm we flew into calm air under a weak lazy sun. I took out the sextant and got two shoots. It took me thirty minutes to work them out, for the engine kept back firing, and my attention wandered every time it did…”

“Suddenly, ahead and thirty degrees to the left, there were bright flashes in several places, like the dazzle of a heliograph. I saw a dull grey-white airship coming towards me. It seemed impossible, but I could have sworn that it was an airship, nosing towards me like an oblong pearl. Except for a cloud or two, there was nothing else in the sky.”

“I looked around, sometimes catching a flash or a glint, and turning again to look at the airship I found it had disappeared. I screwed up my eyes, unable to believe them, and twisted the seaplane this way and that, thinking that the airship must be hidden by a blind spot. Dazzling flashes continued in four or five different places, but I could not pick out any planes.”

“Then, out of some clouds to my right front, I saw another, or the same, airship advancing. I watched it intently, determined not to look away for a fraction of a second: I’d see what happened to this one, if I had to chase it. It drew steadily closer, until perhaps a mile away, when suddenly it vanished. Then it reappeared, close to where it had vanished: I watched with angry intentness. It drew closer, and I could see the dull gleam of light on its nose and back. It came on, but instead of increasing in size, it diminished as it approached. When quite near, it suddenly became its own ghost – one second I could see through it, and the next it had vanished. I decided that it could only be a diminutive cloud, perfectly shaped like an airship and then dissolving, but it was uncanny that it should exactly resume the same shape after it once vanished.”

“I turned towards the flashes, but those too had vanished. All this was many years before anyone spoke of flying saucers. Whatever it was I saw, it seems to have been very much like what people have since claimed to be flying saucers.”

Enjoy your aerophilately  Have a UFO free weekend 🙂    Michael

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