Thursday, July 24, 2008

Family Flying in August 1920

Aircraft in Flight on 13 August 1920 in Queensland, Australia

My great grandmother must have been one of the first aircraft passengers in Australia.

On the 17th March 1920, she paid the then huge sum of ten pounds (around twenty dollars) for a ten minute flight - hardly time to get up before coming down!

My Great Grandmother, 1900

Happily she saved the ticket issued to her by Australian Aircraft Pty Ltd.

It has two sections: 'This portion to be retained by the passenger' and 'This portion to be given to the pilot'. The ticket indicates the name of the pilot ('Capt. Legget') and the type of aeroplane used ('AW'). I'm a bit surprised by the degree of administrative detail for what was essentially just a very early and short joy ride. But I guess it could have been for souvenir purposes as much as anything else.

The figure '4' top right shows she was the fourth person to try out this new fangled contraption!

But the momento of this occasion that is for me most interesting is her pencil written account of the event - while still in the air!

She records the take off ('the air 5pm 17-3-20') and the landing ('5.10pm going to land').

Then she puts down her sensations:

'Flying near Inglewood. S M White. Sensation great. Paddocks look like garden beds. Motor cars look like dogs'.

And I now remember this was not unlike my own first experience - the fascination with the miniaturisation of ordinary things like houses and trees and roads and so on.

My great grandmother later added in ink down the left hand side that she flew at '1000 ft in air' and 'Travelled 12 minutes'. And down the right hand side that the plane was an 'Armstrong Whitworth Aeroplane 160 HP'.

I'm guessing that the aircraft she took could have been like the one pictured above, flying in Australia on the 13th August 1920.

My great grandmother's experience makes me feel in actual contact with one of the bigger events of history - the accomplishment of flight!

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