First flight in an Australian designed aircraft. (1910)

In 1909 and 1910 there was a desperate race to be the first person in Australia to fly in a powered aircraft. The first few flights were made in aeroplanes that had been brought in from overseas, and which only stayed in the air for a few minutes. On 16 July 1910, at Mia Mia in Victoria, pioneer aviator John Duigan was the first person to fly an Australian designed and built powered aircraft. He flew seven metres in his tiny aeroplane, and was in the air for just a few seconds. This brief flight that was over almost before it had begun took place only a few years after the Wright brothers flew the first ever powered aeroplanes. John Duigan had spent nearly a year to build his aircraft, which was made from wood, wire taken from an old piano, and steel bands usually used for baling wool. A 25-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine powered the frail aeroplane. After this first flight, John Duigan and his brother Reginald spent months making their aeroplane more stable and were soon able to fly about a kilometre in it. This experience was useful for John Duigan when a few years later he flew aeroplanes in France during World War One. It was also important to be able to travel long distances safely and fast in such a large country as Australia, which is also so far away from countries such as Europe and America. Early pioneers such as John Duigan helped to transform communication and travel for Australians.


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