The MacRobertson Air Race of 1934 marked the beginning of modern air travel and the beginning of the end of the Golden Age of Aviation.
It was a time when daring—or simply dangerous—aviation events were concocted for the slightest of excuses. In the case of the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race it was nominally to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the city of Melbourne, Australia. The sponsor for whom the race was named was provided this honour simply by putting up the £15,000 in prize money. Sir Macpherson Robertson—he preferred the more catchy ‘MacRobertson’—was an Australian confectionary baron who likely saw the unparalleled promotional opportunity for what it was: a means of getting his name, and subsequently his candy, on the lips of everybody from England to Australia and everywhere in between.
MacRobertson would accomplish this purely commercial objective simply by being the title sponsor for a race where entrants would depart Mildenhall, England and, as fast as they dared, make their way to Melbourne, Australia some 11,300 miles away...
Listen to the rest by clicking the play button, above. The text version of this essay can be found on Medium where it was published contemporaneously. The exquisite key image for this episode is by Kev Gregory and is available on Shutterstock. The image has been slightly cropped to fit the Fireside format.