Charles Kingsford Smith was the first aviator to cross the Pacific, flying in his little Fokker trimotor, The Southern Cross, from California to Australia. The longest leg of the flight was the 34-hour trip from Hawaii to Fiji. Suva's Albert Park, with its hill at one end and the Grand Pacific Hotel at the other, was made into a makeshift landing strip for his arrival. Trees were still being cleared after Smith had already left Hawaii.
Kingsford Smith and his crew arrived on 6 June 1928, and were welcomed by a crowd of thousands, including colonial dignitaries who had gathered at the Grand Pacific Hotel to witness and celebrate this major event. Because the park was too short to take-off with a heavy load of fuel, Smith had to unload, fly to Nasilai Beach and reload for take-off to Brisbane and Sydney. Kingsford Smith and his crew were presented with a ceremonial tabua (whale's tooth) as a token of great respect.