This last week the night time storms around Albury have been similar to those of 1934, when the entire town became a giant morse code light signal to rescue lost KLM DC-2, the Uiver, which landed almost on empty on its race course.
The night of the Uiver 80 years ago on 24 October is being celebrated today in the NSW-Victoria bordertown.
Its amazing story is told in gripping detail by Qantas QF32 captain Richard de Crespigny here.
The Uiver was taking part in the Mildenhall (UK) to Melbourne Air Race. It became lost in the middle of the night, in a time when radio technology was primitive, navigation was fraught with uncertainties, and passenger carrying flying machines occupied a space shared with fanciful visions of future airliners in a world where transport as a commercial activity was the domain of ocean liners and thundering great steam powered trains.
This is a sad but glorious part of aviation history, not just in Australian but world terms. Sad in that the principal characters died in later airliner disasters, which were commonplace in those times, and glorious in that their efforts and those of other pioneers established safe air travel and its benefits for our times.
In true Albury and Uiver style, the entrance path to the tonight’s celebratory function in the border town will be lit by the headlamps of almost 100 vintage cars – just as they lit the survival path for the lost airliner 80 years ago.