Dear Friends of the Wilkins Foundation,

As you know, 2019 marks the centenary of ‘The Great Race’ from England to Australia, won by (then) Ross and Keith Smith and their mechanic, Wally Shiers.

On Sunday, 8 December, SBS broadcast Lainie Anderson’s movie about this historic air race, 'The Greatest Air Race', after her gripping book 'The Long Flight Home'. Author and filmmaker Lainie is South Australia’s Epic Flight Centenary 2019 Ambassador, and I commend her film and book to you. You can watch 'The Greatest Air Race' through SBS on Demand below.
Lainie Anderson in 'The Greatest Air Race' 

Wilkins of course also entered an aeroplane in The Great Race, the Blackburn Kangaroo, which conked out over Crete and crashed into a ditch alongside the local lunatic asylum, fortunately with no loss of life.

Here is his description of the crew’s demeanor with death seemingly imminent, along with his sporting acknowledgement of his rival’s likely success:  

‘It had been my experience on several occasions when confronted with what seemed certain death that the mind is calm, reflecting quietly on the possibilities of post-human survival. And I was pleased to find out that this position was exemplified in my companions. There was no laughter, no ribald bluffing or whimpering. We said little to each other except, ‘Well, looks as though we are in for it. No possible chance of escape. Old Smithy will certainly win the prize and he is welcome to it.’
Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial website

The Wilkins Oration 2019 was delivered on 31 October (the anniversary of Wilkins’s birthday) to a full house at the University of Adelaide’s Braggs Theatre by Laura J Kissel, Curator of The Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar & Climate Research Center Collection. Laura was ably supported by Simon Nasht, author of the captivating Wilkins biography The Last Explorer, and acclaimed international violinist, Jonathon Glonek, who entertained us with a musical tribute to Wilkins.
Following the Oration, Laura and her husband Mike, drove north to Mt Bryan East to experience Netfield, the Wilkins family cottage that was restored through local community fundraising and a generous donation by Dick Smith to kick-start the project. Laura and Mike enjoyed a warm welcome and traditional country hospitality from the custodians of Netfield, the Hubert Wilkins Memorial Committee.
Laura Kissel and Simon Nasht delivering the 2019 Wilkins Oration - image courtesy of the Environment Institute 
The Foundation thanks Laura for making the long journey from Ohio to deliver the keynote address, and for strengthening the Foundation’s bond with The Ohio State University, the world’s premier repository of Wilkinsonian documents and artefacts. Video excerpts from the Oration can be found on the talks page of the Foundation’s website,

The Foundation is grateful also to everyone who attended the Oration. As a young entity with a strictly volunteer board, we will be asking those of you with the time and inclination for your involvement in various ways next year to strengthen our offering to the community by delivering our objectives of Bringing Wilkins Home and encouraging people – in the words of our Patron, Dr Richard ‘Harry’ Harris SC OAM - to ‘Unlock their Inner Explorers’. So please feel free to share ideas with us or make observations.

With best wishes for a safe and happy 2020,
Stephen Scammell
@WilkinsFndn @WilkinsFndn
Copyright © 2019 The Sir Hubert Wilkins Foundation, All rights reserved.

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