Dad can’t afford plane ticket, mails himself to Australia


Like most ideas that happen over too many drinks, this one was terrible, but it worked.

WTSP reported that a dad named Reg Spiers climbed in a 5′ x 3′ x 2’6″ crate (the maximum size that could be shipped), fitted with straps for him to hang on to and designed to open at either end so he could get out and walk when he’d been safely loaded inside the plane.

He packed some provisions including his passport, a change of clothes, canned spaghetti, bottled water and some candy, climbed into the box and McSorely drove him to Heathrow airport (Spiers used the empty bottles and cans to pee in. We know you were curious).

The trip was almost a disaster from the start, after heavy fog delayed flights out of London for a full 24 hours. He was flown from London to Paris to Bombay, where he was left on a tarmac in the hot sun (and upside down) for hours before being loaded back onto yet another plane.

After an unscheduled fuel stop in Singapore, he made it to Perth, 63 hours and 13,000 miles from Heathrow. The box was placed in a cargo shed, but Spiers found some tools, cut a hole in the wall and climbed out. He changed into his clean clothes, pulled out his passport and walked out of the airport.

After hitchhiking from Perth to his home in Adelaide, he surprised his family. The only mistake he made was forgetting to let McSorley know that he’d arrived; McSorely called a reporter friend and there was a massive-for-the-time media circus that picked up on Spiers’ story. The hardest part, he said, was convincing his wife that he was telling the truth.

“I got out of the box between London and Paris, dying for a leak,” says Spiers. “I peed in a can and put it on top of the box. I was stretching my legs and all of a sudden, because it’s a short distance, the plane began to descend. A little panicky I jumped back in the box, and the can full of pee was still sitting on top.”

BBC news reported that the French baggage handlers in Paris thought the can’s unsavoury contents had been left for them as an unkind joke by their counterparts in London.

“They were saying some terrible things about the English,” says Spiers. “But they didn’t even think of the box. So I kept on going.”

The next stop on the long journey back to Australia was in Bombay, where baggage handlers parked Spiers – upside down – in the sun’s glare for four hours.

“It was hot as hell in Bombay so I took off all my clothes,” he says. “Wouldn’t it have been funny if I’d got pinched then?”

But back in England, John McSorley, who had built the crate and delivered Spiers to the airport, was desperately worried about his friend. Spiers hitchhiked his way back to his family in Adelaide, but neglected to tell McSorley he had come through his journey intact.

In an effort to find out what had happened, McSorley alerted the media, and Spiers quickly became a sensation in his home country.

“I got a telegram from a renowned Australian politician,” he says, which read, “‘A gallant effort by a real Aussie – and here’s five quid.’ I’m winning big time. It was great.”

In the end the airline didn’t make him pay the shipping fees. But Spiers admits he was taken aback by the media coverage of his adventure.

“I’d never seen anything like it. It scared the hell out of my mother with the whole street blocked with media. And it would go on for weeks. It was pretty wild.”

Spiers succeeded in making it back in time for his daughter’s birthday but he still had a job convincing his wife his story was true.

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