Have you heard of the Double Sunrise flights? These are flights so long that the people on board experienced sunrise twice during the non-stop flight. Qatar Airways currently have the longest flight in the world, but the Double Sunrise flights are even longer.

Imagine being on board an aircraft for between 27 and 32 hours without any entertainment and no service of any kind. There must have been a major reason for this to occur.

Double Sunrise Flights

Double Sunrise flights occurred during World War 2. Australia was cut off from Europe by the Japanese advance through Asia and it was decided to use the PBY Catalina flying boat to fly direct from Nedlands in Perth to Koggala Lake in Ceylon which is now Sri Lanka.


Why this route in particular? It allowed the reestablishment of the Australia-England air link which had been cut by the war. Flights were restricted to 3 passengers and 69 kilograms of diplomatic mail at a time. To save weight, mail was photographed onto Microfiche.

The First Flight

There is a little video about the first flight below. This features the last surviving pilot who crewed the Double Sunrise services. It is around 3 minutes long and is worth a look.

It sounds like it would have been some experience!

The Rare and Secret Order of the Double Sunrise

Passengers on the services were given a certificate for spending more than 24 hours in the air on a regular air service. This entitled the person to become a member of the rare and Secret Order of the Double Sunrise.


Services lasted from 29 June 1943 to 18 July 1945 and during that time 648 passengers were carried along with 51,600 kilograms of microfilmed mail and 6,728 kilograms of freight.

Overall Thoughts

These flights were under threat of Japanese patrols as it was wartime and it is remarkable that all the flights arrived at their destinations safely. The Double Sunrise flights represent a major feat of airmanship that is worth remembering today.

You can get more information on these flights at the Qantas web site, the Qantas Founders Museum web site, and the HARS web site.

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All images via Qantas.