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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 7

I The First 100 Years 1788-1888

II Railways

III Motorised Vehicles

IV Aviation
i Local Inventions, Research, Design and Manufacture
ii The Development of Air Transport: The Trail Blazers
iii The Services
iv The Royal Flying Doctor Service
v Ground Aids and Safety Innovations
vi From Aviation to Modern Shipping

V Modern Shipping

VI Innovative Small Craft

VII Conclusion

VIII Acknowledgements

IX Contributors



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The Development of Air Transport: The Trail Blazers (continued)

H. J. L. Hinkler (1892-1933) was a Queenslander, whose interest in aviation started early and who built and flew gliders in 1911. He went to England in 1914 and joined the Sopwith team. Hinkler flew in the First World War, first in R.N.A.S. (1915-17) then in the R.A.F. He became a test pilot for the Avro company, then joined the British Schneider Trophy Team. Hinkler is best known for his solo flights in light aircraft -such as London-Turin (1920), Sydney-Bundaberg (1921), England-Australia (1928) and New York-Jamaica-Brazil-West Africa-London (1931). He was killed in the European Alps whilst flying solo from England to Australia in 1933.[38]

C.T.P. Ulm is best known for his joint exploits with Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, but he had an important career of his own. Ulm was Managing Director of the early Australian National Airways from 1928-32, flew in an Avro Ten on a return flight Australia-England-Australia in 1933, and inaugurated the first official mail flights between Australia-New Zealand and New Guinea. He disappeared on a Trans-Pacific flight near Hawaii in December 1934.[39]

G. H. Wilkins, whilst mainly known as an Arctic and Antarctic explorer, was also a pioneer flyer. He took part in an unsuccessful England-Australia flight in 1919. In an Arctic expedition in 1926, he made 5 flights and conducted the first flight in the Antarctic in 1928. It was his aircraft which was subsequently acquired by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and which became the Southern Cross.

P. G. Taylor (later Sir Gordon) (1896-1966) was the last of the pioneers and provided a link between the early era and the modern times. Like all the early aviators, he flew in the First World War and became a fighter pilot in the R.F.C. in 1916. After the First World War he became a commercial pilot, then joined Kingsford-Smith and the Trans-Tasman and Trans-Pacific flights in 1934. He became famous for his in-flight daring by walking on the wing of the aircraft to supply oil to a failing engine. P. G. Taylor established air links with the last two continents not previously reached by air, with the first flights between Australia and West Africa in 1939 and Australia-South America in 1951.[40]

The conquest of air in Australia was not obtained cheaply. Of the limited group of the most prominent trail blazers listed above, Ross Smith, Hinkler, Kingsford-Smith and Ulm, lost their lives in air accidents. Those of us who fly so safely and comfortably in modern airliners today, should remember their early efforts and sacrifices.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Royal Flying Corps (R.F.C.)

People in Bright Sparcs - Hinkler, H. J. L.; Schaetzel, Stanley S.; Taylor, Sir P. G.; Ulm, C. T. P.; Wilkins, G. Hubert

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© 1988 Print Edition page 513, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher