With his many pioneering flights in the 1920s and '30s, Charles Kingsford Smith was one of those characters who brightened the lives of Australians during the years of the Great Depression.
From the South Coast in 1933 he undertook a historic flight from Seven Mile Beach to New Zealand, and a memorial stone on Kingsford Smith Memorial Park at Gerroa marks that event.
However a little earlier on, it was suspected the Shoalhaven would have a closer link with the aviator.
One of his aircraft, the Southern Cloud left Sydney on March 21, 1931 for Melbourne with seven passengers aboard and went missing without a trace.
Leaving early in the morning without up-to-date weather forecasts, its speed had been restricted by head-winds, and one report from Queanbeyan suggested that it had been labouring.
However acting on intelligence that miners in the Nerriga-Sassafras district had heard a tremendous crash on the day in question, the Inspector General of Police dispatched a search party from Nowra on March 28.
Headed by Constable Thomas Cook and Constable Williams, the party included Stan Hanson as driver, Bill Massey for his bushcraft knowledge, along with Jack Hanson and Os Bennett.
Without any great hopes of success, they left early in the morning and proceeded to Sassafras where they split into two groups.
While some of the group looked down hundreds of feet from the tops of waterfalls, Bennett and Jack Hanson scanned the depths of the gorges - but without success.
In the meantime, Shoalhaven man William Gerrey had spotted something shining in the trees while looking with field glasses into a gorge between Kangaroo Valley and Marulan.
Having heard an aeroplane in trouble, he believed it to be the wreck of the Southern Cloud, but had only the one glimpse before mist set in and he had to continue rounding up cattle with Alfred Hughes of Kangaroo Valley.
With a view to going into the gorge and searching for it himself, he did not alert any authorities - but people will talk, and a little later he was being quizzed by police.
Arrangements were made for one of Kingsford Smith's partners, Charles Ulm to be guided to the spot by Gerrey on Saturday, July 11.
However things did not go according to plan for after Ulm and his pilot C.T.P. Allen arrived from Mascot they could not find a landing spot at Nerriga but instead went to Braidwood.
After the two men had spoken on the telephone and he received some directions, Ulm decided to conduct the search by air which he did for several hours without success.
Several days later a group of four men went to the area on foot to continue investigations, and they ruled the site out.
They claimed that instead of being the shining body of an aeroplane, what Gerrey had seen was water flowing over flat rocks, glistening in the sun.
This logical explanation could well have been correct, but on top of this loss and the continuing effects of the Depression, Kingsford Smith's company had already suspended operations.
Some 27 years later (in 1958), the plane's rusty wreckage was discovered by a worker on the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
*Among their many accolades, these aviators are recognised in the Shoalhaven with Kingsford Smith Crescent and Ulm Road at Sanctuary Point.
Information thanks to Shoalhaven Historical Society