Raised on a remote South Australian sheep station in the dying days of Australia's colonial frontier, there was little in Ross Smith's childhood that suggested a future as one of Australia's great pioneering aviators. He went to war in 1914, serving with the light horse at Gallipoli and in the Sinai before volunteering for the fledgling Australian Flying Corps. In a new dimension of warfare, Ross Smith survived two grueling years of aerial combat over Palestine to emerge as one of the most skilled and highly decorated Australian pilots of the war. In 1919 he served as a pilot on the first ever mission to survey an air route from Cairo to the East Indies before gaining international fame as the winner of the Australian government's £10,000 prize for the first airman to fly from England to Australia. An attempt to exceed this by circumnavigating the world by air in 1922 would end in disaster and tragedy.