MacRobertson Air Race

To celebrate the centenary of Melbourne in October 1934, an air race was organised between England and Australia.

The sponsor was Sir MacPherson Robertson and 20 planes left Mildenhall near London on 20 October. There were 5 checkpoints: Baghdad, Allahabad, Singapore, Darwin, Charleville. Nine finished the race which was won by C.W.A. Scott and T. Campbell Black whose DH 88 Comet took under three days to get to Melbourne.

Hewett and Kay

Several planes carried unofficial mail including the DH 89 Dragon Rapide flown by the New Zealand pilots J.D. Hewett and C.E. Kay. They arrived in Melbourne on October 28 and then flew across the Tasman from Sydney to New Zealand on November 14. They meant to fly to Auckland, but due to bad weather they landed at Palmerston North.


On November 15, they posted 100 specially printed covers which they had carried from the UK. This was the first (unofficial) airmail that had been flown all the way from the UK to New Zealand.

The covers have a British 1½d stamp and were first posted on 19 October and addressed to Mildenhall. They were then flown on 20 - 28 October to Australia and then on to New Zealand on November 14. The covers have the date at which they arrived at each of the checkpoints in the race.

A 1d Admiral stamp and the address c/o Post Office, Palmerston North, New Zealand were added after their arrival in New Zealand. They were then posted for a second time on November 15. The above cover is signed by one of the pilots: C.E. Kay. Later, J.D. Hewett joined Bert Mercer and flew the South Westland service with Air Travel (N.Z.) Ltd.

Parmentier and Moll


KLM already flew a regular passenger and air mail service from Amsterdam to Batavia in the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch entry was an extension of this service and so, unlike any of the others, it carried passengers and an official mail. Parmentier and Moll flew in a Douglas DC 2 and took less than four days from England to Melbourne. They came second in the Speed Race, but chose instead to take the first prize in the Handicap Race.


The official cover shown was issued by KLM and was postmarked on 15 October in the Netherlands and has an official cachet in red. The plane flew to Mildenhall on 19 October ready for the race on 20 October.

The cover was backstamped at Melbourne on 24 October and is one of only about 50 addressed to New Zealand. It was carried there from Australia by surface mail and was backstamped Christchurch on 31 October.

Turner and Pangborn


The Americans Colonel Roscoe Turner and Clyde Pangborn in a Boeing 247 took only 2 hours and 40 minutes longer than Parmentier and Moll.

They carried 1000 unofficial covers. The above cover is signed by Roscoe Turner. Like those of Hewitt and Kay, their covers were sent through the post at both ends of the journey to get validated datestamps.

They were third to arrive in Melbourne, but as Parmentier and Moll had opted for first prize in the Handicap Race, Turner and Pangborn were awarded second prize in the Speed Race. The inscription on the cover states that they were in 3rd place.

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All scans were made by the author. Information on this page is taken from:
Airmails of New Zealand, volume 2 (1986) compiled by Douglas A Walker, and The New Zealand Airmail Catalogue, (2nd Edition, 1994) by James Stapleton.
Both are published by the Air Mail Society of New Zealand