2nd Lieutenant Frank Stiertz of the 7th Pursuit Squadron of the 49th Pursuit Group, 5th Air Force USAAF was considered a brash pilot. He had advanced to cross country flights from Bankstown RAAF airfield back in February 1942. He angered local authorities when he flew his Kittyhawk underneath the Sydney Harbour bridge. He was grounded for two weeks after this incident.

Stiertz was practicing touch-and-go landings at Bankstown airfield on 14 March 1942, when his right wingtip clipped a grader and the plane stalled. The plane crashed and caught fire. Stiertz died due to asphyxiation from the steaming glycol fumes.

The following paragraph is from 18th Squadron (NEI-AF) Newsletter of July 1994. The article was written by Nicholas Dijkstra:-

On a beautiful Sunday in the month of May 1942, two US 'Kittyhawks' flew under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I was in Elizabeth Bay at the time, or near there, and saw them. Traffic on the bridge came to a full stop and people were excited. The following day it was the main item of conversation - everybody thought that it was a great stunt. Nobody had done that before!


3. A B-17 Flying Fortress

The late Delmer "Del" Sparrowe who narrowly missed being aboard B-17C Flying Fortress Tail Number #40-2072 before it crashed through the toss-of-a-coin, told Col Butler he was aboard that aircraft when it flew under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They had flown to Laverton Air Base for a major service but scheduling there and time constraints resulted in little more than engine oil changes.

While over-nighting in Sydney on their return to Mackay or Townsville, they were at The Rocks near the bridge when a large ship passed under the bridge. Del said their skipper, Captain Slingsby made a profound statement, "If a ship can pass under that bridge so can an airplane", or similar.

The next morning, as Slingsby headed for the Harbour Bridge, Del was in the Crew Chief's seat behind the pilots. He said he had echo-ed Slingsby's words to himself as the bridge loomed large, "If a ship can pass under the bridge, so can an airplane". Del said that was most unusual for Slingsby who was noted for being a very thoughtful and careful aviator.

That flight was likely between January 1943 before R&R flights commenced between Mackay and Port Moresby, and the end of May 1943 before the aircraft was grounded in early June 1943 to replace a fuel tank and engine changes after which it crashed at Baker's Creek near Mackay on 14 June 1943. After several months as its pilot, Slingsby left Mackay when #40-2072 was grounded for those repairs.



Flying under the Sydney Harbour Bridge
during World War 2

Details of other flights under Sydney Harbour Bridge



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This page first produced 5 January 2000

This page last updated 15 September 2018