Gordon Pirie
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Seeking supremacy
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At first, pilots set height and speed records unintentionally, but later they had to pursue them deliberately. Two such record-setting flying events in the British Empire caught the public imagination in the 1930s. One event was the first flight over Mount Everest. The second event was an air race from Britain to Australia. The organisation of the air 'assault' on Everest, and its execution, eclipsed the ponderous fourth British Everest overland climbing expedition that set out in 1933. The England-Australia air race over 11,000 miles in October 1934 was held in conjunction with celebrations to mark the centenary of the founding of the Australian state of Victoria and its capital, Melbourne. Organised in London by the Royal Aero Club, the race was a logistical triumph, not least because of the international diplomacy involved in securing rights of over-flying and landing.

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