SIR Charles Kingsford-Smith (Smithy) and his Fokker monoplane Southern Cross were already famous by 1933 when he came to Kempsey.
The pair achieved the first trans-Pacific flight from the United States to Australia in 1928, the first crossing of the Australian mainland non-stop, and the first flights between Australia and New Zealand.
To raise money to buy an aeroplane for a planned England-Australia flight, Smithy planned a barnstorming trip to the New South Wales North Coast and Queensland on the fifth anniversary of his first trans-Pacific flight in June 1928.
Sir Charles placed an advertisement in the Macleay Argus for joy flights in the Southern Cross on the Kings Birthday, Monday June 5 1933 to fly from Mackays paddock on the lower Macleay at Frogmore.
The Southern Cross landed at Frogmore on Sunday afternoon (June 4), accompanied by a smaller de Havilland DH-50 aeroplane, where they were greeted by an interested group of sightseers.
Rain began to fall and was steadily increasing when Sir Charles led his crew into Kempsey to book into a comfortable hotel leaving Harry Purvis, a twenty-four year old mechanic, to guard the planes.
After a fitful nights sleep on the Southern Cross seats during a night of pouring rain, Harry awoke the next morning to find the cabin of the aircraft crawling with beetles, spiders and all kinds of insect life.
Looking out into the early light he saw the planes were marooned in a sea of water he estimated to be about a metre deep.
Black and brown snakes were coiled round fence posts, and Harry feared one or two may have found their way into the aeroplane.
Realising he must inform Smithy and the crew of their predicament, he looked around him for a means of transport and saw a large draught horse staring over the fence.
The horse allowed itself to be a caught and mounted and, without the benefit of a bridle or saddle, carried Harry into town on its back, breasting the floodwaters like some amphibious vehicle.
Sir Charles and his crew were galvanised into action after Harrys arrival at their pub and borrowed a boat to row back to Frogmore and begin the task of moving the planes to safety.
Attempts to dry out the ignition and engines with a blowtorch failed and a bullock team was hired to try to drag the Southern Cross to higher ground.
This also failed and as the teams efforts continued into Tuesday, it seemed the aeroplanes would be stranded for weeks.
Late Tuesday afternoon, however, they were able to move the Southern Cross west under its own power to higher ground near the South West Rocks Road.
The following morning, Smithy's team had all three engines of the Southern Cross running in perfect condition.
Fences were removed and running into the head of a stiff breeze, with all engines at full power, Sir Charles showed his prodigious flying skills by achieving take-off in only two hundred yards.
He flew over the Frogmore strip one last time before turning north to Coffs Harbour from where the party resumed their flying programme.
The small DH-50 was moved to higher ground by having its wheels placed in two rowing boats.
Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith would remember his experiences at Frogmore, Kempsey, as the most troublesome of his career.
Three years later he would vanish without a trace in his attempt to set a new air speed record.
In 1936, the Kempsey Aero Club would hold a very successful air pageant at Frogmore.
The following year the Frogmore strip was abandoned in favour of a new airstrip at Aldavilla.
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