Lachie Smart with his mum Vanessa Sprague and dad Will Smart after receiving the letter written for Bert Hinkler.
Lachie Smart with his mum Vanessa Sprague and dad Will Smart after receiving the letter written for Bert Hinkler. John McCutcheon

Aviation world record holder left speechless by surprise gift

NOT only did Lachlan receive a key to the Sunshine Coast and a world record, he was also given a priceless letter handwritten by aviation legend Bert Hinkler.

The unexpected gift rendered the 18-year-old speechless.

Bert wrote the letter to Beerwah resident Roger Reilly's grandfather, Garnet Hungerford, in 1928, thanking him for his fan mail.

Roger said he had been inspired by Lachlan's drive, determination, and spirit, and thought he would be the perfect guardian of the letter, which had been in his family for 80 years.

"I was quite extremely impressed at the time (that I first heard about Lachlan) and I began to follow his Facebook page,” Roger said.

"When I heard that Lachlan was a big fan of Bert's, I knew I had found the best new home for the letter, which has been hanging on my wall for years.”

In a twist of fate, the final leg of Lachlan's solo flight around the world left from Bundaberg, the birth place of his aviation hero, and Roger said that made the timing perfect to present the teenager with the letter.

Although he had charmed his fans with many speeches in the hour after he landed at the Sunshine Coast Airport, the gift had seen Lachlan lost for words.

Mum Vanessa Sprague said it was an emotional surprise for the family.


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