Sir Francis C. Chichester "Life is an adventure or nothing at all."
Chichester is remembered today as a renowned yachtsman. What may be forgotten is that
Chichester also made a succession of history-making flights in the early years of aviation.
He was born in Shirwell, North Devon, England on September 17, 1901. After being
educated at Marlborough, he emigrated to New Zealand in 1919, where he made a fortune as a
land agent. He became interested in flying and returned to Britain in 1929 for a pilot
On December 15, 1929 he set out from Croydon, England making a solo flight from England to
Australia in a Gipsy Moth plane arriving there on January 25, 1930. He flew 14,561 miles in
182.5 flying hours over 41 days. His flying success became the early beginnings of his dream
to go round-the-world and cemented his relationship with the name "gipsy moth." He said, "To
a man of imagination, a map is a window to adventure." The world could be his.
In 1931 in his de Havilland Gipsy Moth fitted with floats, he flew solo across the Tasman
Sea from Auckland, New Zealand via Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands to Jervis Bay, Australia.
For this first flight achievement he was awarded the Johnston Memorial Trophy. He was on his
way round-the-world. He continued his solo flight, flying his Gipsy Moth float-plane "Elijah"
from Australia departing on July 3, 1931 to Japan via Manila, Phillippines and Shanghai,
China. But his round-the-world attempt ended on August 15, 1931 at Katsuura Harbor, Japan
when he collided with overhead telegraph wires. He almost died.
He spent the WW-II war years in Britain as an air navigation instructor and after the war
started a map-publishing business. In 1953 he took up yacht racing and finally realized his
dream of a solo circumnavigation of the world between August 27, 1966 and May 28, 1967. He
did it on the sea in his "Gipsy Moth IV" sailing ketch and not in the air. He traveled 29,600
miles in 226 days.