Pacific Ocean Routes

The first aircraft across the Pacific from North America to Australia was the "Southern Cross" with Sir Charles Kingsford Smith as skipper, Charles Ulm second pilot, Radio operator James Warner and navigator Harry Lyon. This 1928 flight left Oakland, refuelled at Honolulu and Fiji to arrive in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

More details about this historic flight are available at;

The second flight across the Pacific was also flown by Smithy. This flight from Archerfield, Brisbane to Oakland at San Francisco arrived in Honolulu 29 October 1934. It was the first international aircraft ever to pass through customs in Honolulu. Fiji again was used for refuelling.

The aircraft was a single engine Lockheed Altair 8D. A 550 HP P&W Wasp E1 powered this aircraft, "Lady Southern Cross", VH-USB. The other crewmember was PG Taylor. Taylor's skill with the sextant kept them on course while he also acted as the relief pilot. [Taylor P.57ff] [Hatfield]

The first airline to set up operations in the Pacific Ocean area was perhaps Pan Am. These operations were established in 1935. [John G. Borger]

Another operator on the Sydney / North America route was British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines [BCPA]. This airline lasted from 1946 to 1954.

The Pacific Ocean route for BCPA was Sydney, Fiji, Canton Island, Honolulu, San Francisco and Vancouver.

ANA operated the early fights on charter to BCPA using DC4 planes.

The BCPA flights between Honolulu and Fiji called into Canton Island for fuel every time. This was for both their DC4 and DC6. [Moore]

Canton Island

Canton Island was the usual refuelling point for flights between Honolulu and either Fiji or Noumea. The Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] Catalinas, Neptunes and C-130 Hercules also refuelled there. The RAAF Catalinas, like the Pan Am flying boats, used the lagoon at Canton Is. [Wilson S various]

In 1964, the TAA and Ansett-ANA Boeing 727 jets, while on their delivery flights to Australia, also made the Canton Is stop. [Allen 1996, P57]

Early Qantas Lockheed Constellation L749 flights also refuelled at Canton Island. The arrival of the Super Constellation L1049, with its extra range, removed the need for this technical stop. [Wilson S 1998 P.86]

Christmas Island

Christmas Island is in the Pacific Ocean at N01 59:00 W157 22:00. This a different Christmas Island to that in the Indian Ocean at S10 27.0 E105 41.4 which is 550 miles to the east of Cocos Island.

Short-range aircraft can use Christmas Island as a refuelling stop on trans Pacific flights between either Fiji or Pago Pago and Honolulu. This provides an alternative to Canton Island.

In February 1999, the former Independent Air Freighters’ DC-9-33F VH-IPC and VH-IPF visited Christmas Island on their ferry flight to the USA.

From Christmas Island, the DC9-33F freighters continued to Honolulu where fuselage bladder tanks were fitted for the rest of the flight eastwards to the USA. [Reid 1999 P.54]

Weather Ships

By the late 1940's the Honolulu / San Francisco air route had two extra nav aids. These were Coast Guard weather ships, called "Ocean Station Nan" and "Ocean Station Uncle". These provided both enroute weather and position fixes. These ships were positioned at intervals of about 800 miles. [Moore P.60]




Page last updated on 31/12/03

Air Routes
General Info
During WWII
San Fran/Sydney
via Hawaii
Preferred Routes