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Australia's Aviation Heritage - The Golden Years
Bert Hinkler became the first to fly solo from England to Australia, in his Avro Avian in February 1928. Later, in June 1928 Kingsford-Smith and Ulm became the first to cross the Pacific Ocean in the "Southern Cross", in September 1928 the first to cross the Tasman Sea, and the first to circumnavigate the globe by crossing the Atlantic in June 1930. In 1921, the first scheduled air service was commenced by West Australian Airways flying from Derby to Geraldton and the following year Qantas commenced operations with a service from Charleville to Cloncurry. Following their record-breaking and pioneering flights Kingsford-Smith and Ulm formed Australian National Airways in 1930. In 1934, the Centenary Air Race from London to Melbourne proved once and for all the viability and safety of long distance air travel. Many other aviation ventures developed, including Ansett with services from Hamilton to Melbourne and, of course, after WW II, TAA, with flights initially from Laverton in Victoria, both went on to become Australia's twin domestic airlines. The importance of aviation in the development, and to the continued maintenance of communication, support, and service to rural communities cannot be understated; indeed the remoteness of the Australian outback led to the development of the unique and successful Flying Doctor Service" by Dr John Flynn in 1928. Australians also played a significant role in aircraft development, in addition to Hargrave and Duigan's early work, Australians such as Harry Hawker from Moorabbin, Victoria and Edgar Percival from Albury/Wodonga travelled to England to work in aircraft design and manufacturing during the First World War. The Percival Aircraft Company built touring and trainer aircraft for the RAF, while the Hawker Company built a range of aircraft from 1930 biplanes to jet fighters, both becoming famous British manufacturers.
Australia's Aviation Heritage - The Pioneering Years
Australia has played an important pioneering role in aviation, pushing both the limits of technology and mankind's experience. Its indigenous population developed unique weapons and tools such as the Boomerang and Woomera during 40,000 years of isolation. Much later, the experiments of Lawrence Hargrave into lifting properties of box-kites and wing surfaces in the late 1880's and published in Scientific Journals were to inspire and influence the work of many others in Europe and the USA, including the Wright brothers and man's first flight in December 1903. This event ignited interest in aviation around the world, with the Australian Government offering a prize for 5000 pounds for a flying machine for military purposes, stimulating local activity, including the first glider flight by George Taylor in 1909, followed by the first powered Australian flight by Harry Houdini at Diggers Rest, Victoria, in March 1910. The first Australian design flown was by John Duigan who flew it at Mia Mia, Victoria, on 10 October 1910. By 1913 Australia had formed its own Central Flying School at Point Cook and following the outbreak of the first World War in August 1914 formed its first squadrons of the Australian Flying Corps, and was the only Commonwealth country other than Britain to form such a force. It is not widely known that while the ANZAC legend was being forged at Gallipoli, that the Australian Half Flight was in combat service in Mesopotamia, and suffering its first losses in the air. Following the end of the First World War, Australians began the pioneering of long distance flying with the brothers Ross and Keith Smith being the first to fly from England to Australia in their twin engined Vickers Vimy in 1919, followed by Parer and McIntosh in 1920 in a single engined DH9.
Australian Aviation Heritage -
But Australians also built aircraft here in our own country, with LASCO building 32 Gypsy Moths for the RAAF at Coode Island, Melbourne in 1931 and then a consortium of industrialists formed the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in Melbourne with Lawrence Wackett as manager, to build Australian aircraft. The Department of Aircraft Production, later named Government Aircraft Factory was also created in Melbourne, and proceeded, also De Havillands in Sydney, to produce aircraft for the defence of Australia, at a time when neither the USA or Britain could support us with new aircraft. Later Australian manufacturers such as Victa, Transavia, and Yeoman developed Australian light civil, utility, crop-dusting and trainer aircraft. GAF developed the Nomad, of which 170 were built in Melbourne and a number exported overseas. Australia continues to have a small but successful aviation industry that contributes to the Nation's employment, economic development, tourism, and defence. As to manufacturing, Australia produces parts for overseas aircraft manufacturers thus earning valuable offset credits, and also builds light aircraft. Australia has a proud heritage in aviation and it should be recognised, and preserved. Over the last 40 years, the AARG has saved a number of significant examples of Australia's aviation heritage, and with nearly 50 aircraft on display, in storage or under restoration, the Museum is one of the largest in Australia, contains the finest collection of Australian made and designed aircraft, as well as the broadest collection with representative types covering the development of air travel and military aviation.