Australia is rich in aviation history, known for being the leading pioneers before World War 2, learning and creating history changing aircraft for many years. Below are some of the milestones of Australia’s aviation history.
Lawrence Hargrave, 1850 – 1915
Lawrence Hargrave was a pioneering inventor, engineer, explorer and astronomer. He lived in Stanwell Park due to the perfect conditions provided by the location for his flying machines. The park is still being used today as a paragliding and hang gliding locale.
Among Hargrave’s inventions, the rotary engine was one of his three significant works. He was the first to incorporate it in aircrafts, which helped power early models. Another one of his inventions was aerofoil. Its unique shape helped provide lift in aircrafts. Hargrave’s box kite was his third important invention. This was able to increase the lift to drag ration for the glider’s designs during this era.
Australian Flying Corps and its evolution
In 1912, the Australian Flying Corps (AFP) was established as a branch of the Australian Army and were responsible for aircraft operations during the First World War. When the AFP was first established, they started with four aircrafts, seven warrant officers, seven sergeants and 32 mechanics. There was no training conducted during its first two years until War erupted in 1914.
The Australian Flying Corps held their training at the Central Flying School in Point Cook. However, a majority of the training needed to be done overseas in England. Training in the UK took about three hours of dual instruction. This was followed by 20 hours of solo flying. The first Australian aircrew were taught by Henry Petre and Eric Harrison within the batch’s home country.
The corps became part of the British Royal Flying Corps and took part in the France and Middle East aerial combat during the war. They disbanded in 1919 when they came home to Australia in order to create the Australian Air Corps. They re-established themselves as the “Royal Australian Air Force” in 1921.
Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS) is responsible for answering health emergencies in remote parts of Australia. They are an organisation providing health care to people without access to common medical facilities. The RFDS was initially based on the Aerial Medical Service by Reverend John Flynn as a one year experiment. He believed a medical facility built in bush communities was insufficient to help people who live in more rural communities.
The Flying Doctors was a success in its first year and was known as the first air ambulance in the world. Today, the RFDS is still providing medical services to people in remote areas of Australia. In addition to aircrafts, they also use 4WD cars and other land vehicles.
The above are just a few of the more significant impacts of Australians on the aircraft industry, with aviation research and innovations still continuing today.
Joseph Kahlil was named after Kahlil Gibran – a world-renowned poet and author of “The Prophet.” Following his footsteps, he harnesses his creative juices through poetry, prose, and occasional musings about the “human condition.” As an observer, Kahlil loves to write about technology, the arts and aviation. He occasionally writes for Aviation Australia.