Ulm Flight to New Zealand

The Faith in Australia was flown from Richmond, Sydney to New Plymouth on 3 - 4 December 1933. An unofficial mail was carried.

3 Dec

Flown postcards show the crew: Charles Ulm (pilot), G U ("Scotty") Allan (co-pilot/navigator) and R T Boulton (radio-operator) and have the inscription: This Souvenir Postcard was carried by Air - Australia to New Zealand Nov 1933 Faith in Australia VH-UXX.

The date is November as that was the planned date for the flight. The number of cards is unknown, but most are signed by Ulm at the bottom right.

Some cards were flown one way, others were also flown on the return flight of February 17 (the first official Tasman airmail) while others were also flown on later flights.

As the characteristics of the cards differ in each of these cases, they are dealt with separately. A complication is that authors do not agree on details. Information from recent auction lists has been used to augment earlier accounts.

1. Flown one way


Cachets were applied in the top right corner giving the time the plane left Richmond (5.27 P.M.) and the arrival time in New Plymouth.

In this group the minutes in the arrival time are missing and the time is given as 9 A.M. with a gap after the 9.

There are two varieties. The card shown above is matt and both cachets are in violet.

3 Dec

White glossy cards are more common. In these the Richmond cachet is in black and the New Plymouth cachet in red as in the second example.

The times are the same as with the violet cachets.

These cards were not posted, but were sold by Ulm to help finance the flight.

2. Also flown on return flight

17 feb

After arrival in New Zealand, 100 cards were further overprinted with the design used on the official envelopes for the first official trans-Tasman airmail as shown. They were flown on that flight on 17 February 1934.

The red New Plymouth cachet for the December flight has the correct time of 9.47 A.M. In the shown card, the Richmond cachet is pale (faded?) in a bluish green. It could be described as either blue or green.

3 Dec

Walker[1] states that the Richmond cachet is in blue while Mathieson[2] states that it is green. I have seen both for sale in auction lists. Perhaps there is only one colour which has been interpreted in different ways.

This card has the signature of G.U. Allan as well as that of C.T.P. Ulm.

3. Flown on other flights

April 1934

A recent auction had a card which had later been flown on the first Australia - New Zealand airmail and return in April 1934. It was signed by the whole crew and by Miss K Rogers, Ulm's secretary and, along with Mrs Ulm, one of the two passengers on the original flight. The Richmond cachet is in violet while the New Plymouth cachet is in black and shows the time of 9.47.

Another auction had a similar card with the same signatories, but with the cachets in red and black.

The National Library of Australia has a photograph of the crew and the two passengers taken after arrival on 4 December.

Crome cards


These are 300 cards that Ernest Crome obtained from Ulm and which were flown on other significant 1934 flights including the first Australian - New Zealand airmail in April, the New Zealand to Australia airmail and the Australia to Papua New Guinea airmail in July, the Hewett and Kay Australia to New Zealand flight in November and the first regular Australia - UK flight in December. Later flights include Australia to US via Hong Kong in1937, Auckland to US in 1938, first regular trans Tasman flight in 1940 and first regular New Zealand - US flight in 1940. Details are given in Eustis[3] and a discussion of several covers is in Peace[4] and in Legg[5].


The card shown is addressed to Crome and was flown on the first regular trans Tasman flight from Australia to New Zealand on 2 May 1940 in the flying boat Aotearoa. It is postmarked 1 May 1940 and was flown on 2 May from Sydney to Auckland arriving at 1.38pm on the afternoon of 2 May. It was then sent to Palmerston North where it was backstamped at 7.45 am on 3 May.

It has been signed by the commander: Capt. J.W. Burgess and the rest of the crew.

From the other side, we can see that the cachets on the Crome cards are violet and the New Plymouth time is 9.47 A.M. although in this example, the 47 is very faint and does not show up properly in the scan.

The card has Ulm's signature together with new information added about the use of the card on its second flight across the Tasman from Australia to New Zealand.


All scans were made by the author.
[1] D.A. Walker, Airmails of New Zealand, volume 2 (1986), Air Mail Society of New Zealand
[2] A.G. Mathieson, Airmails Across the Tasman (4), The Kiwi, vol 25 no 6, pp 126-129 November 1976, New Zealand Society of Great Britain
[3] Nelson Eustis, The Australian Air Mail Catalogue, (7th Edition, 2002), Hobby Investments, Adelaide.
[4] B.R. Peace, 1933/1934 Combination Flight Card, The Kiwi, vol 21 no 6, pp 149-152 November 1972, New Zealand Society of Great Britain
[5] W.H. Legg, The 1933 Ulm Flight Special Souvenir Cards, Air Mail News, vol 31, no 139, pp 78-83, December 1988, British Aerophilatelic Federation.