Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Hungarian-American in a French aeroplane in Australia

His name was Harry Houdini. The French aeroplane was a Voisin biplane, and the flight was the first in Australia, in a remote spot in rural Victoria called Digger's Rest, exactly 100 years ago today, the 18th March 1910 - Well, it was the first officially recognised, powered, controlled, heavier than air flight, which is what most people mean when they say 'first'. Of course it wouldn't be Australian if there wasn't some dispute about the claim. And we must recognise the pioneers who had gone before, such as Hargrave.

In typical Aussie fashion, having been beaten to the post by a Hungarian-American, flying a French aircraft, John Duigan got the finger out and flew his Australian designed and built aircraft from a place called Mia Mia, ironically not far from Houdini's spot. Thankfully these were both in Victoria.

A replica of Duigan's aircraft is suspended in the entrance to the Melbourne museum, and they have the real thing in store. I hope to see it someday. This photo shows the skeletal framework of the aircraft against the skeletal framework of the museum. My fellow-blogger Brett Holman has provide a much more detailed post on the story here.

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