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1953 London to Christchurch air race

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1953 London to Christchurch air race

The 1953 London to Christchurch air race, the "Last Great Air Race", was 12,300 miles (19,800 km) long, from London Heathrow to Christchurch International Airport in New Zealand and took place in October 1953 after Christchurch took the decision to declare their airport as International in 1950.


Race description

The race was divided into an outright speed section and a section for commercial transport aircraft types.

The speed section was won by a Royal Air Force English Electric Canberra PR.3 flown by Flight Lieutenant Roland (Monty) Burton and navigated by Flight Lieutenant Don Gannon. The plane touched down at Christchurch Airport 41 minutes ahead of its closest rival — after 23hr 51min in the air including 83 minutes on the ground; to this day the record has never been broken.

There have been many films made about the commercial section of this race: a Vickers Viscount which finished first, followed by a Douglas DC-6A of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines which was declared the winner on handicap. A Royal New Zealand Air Force Handley Page Hastings also took part. The victory of the Canberra has been less publicised, flying at an average speed of 495 miles per hour (797 km/h). The distance, by the route followed, was 12,270 miles (19,750 km) so that the actual speed was 515 miles per hour (829 km/h) (or 546 miles per hour (879 km/h) including immediate stops).

Second in the speed section was Squadron Leader Peter Raw of No. 1 Long Range Flight RAAF in an Australian-built Canberra.

In popular culture

The film Bride Flight was released in 2008.


1953 London to Christchurch air race Wikipedia

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