At dawn on 18 March 1910, escapologist Harry Houdini became the first person to fly an aeroplane in Australia (like many aspects of Australian aviation history, this is the subject of fierce debate, and some claim that it was actually Colin Defries or Fred Custance). Earlier, in 1856, one M Pierre Maigre had attempted to demonstrate a hot air balloon in front of a crowd of 6,000, who had paid to watch ‘the first flight in Australia’. The balloon failed to take-off, and many of the onlookers rioted. In the ensuing chaos, somebody knocked Maigre’s hat off, and fearing for his life, he ran from the site, chased by an angry mob of thousands (he found refuge in a government building). Meanwhile, the crowd set fire to the balloon and “created a bonfire from the tent and seats”.
The first flight by a truly Australian aeroplane took place in 1910, piloted by John Duigan. Since then, Australia has built a variety of fascinating planes, let’s have a look at the ten best-looking…
10. Government Aircraft Factories Nomad
9. Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Boomerang
8. Genairco Biplane
7. Genairco Seaplane
6. Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Woomera
5. Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation CA-16 Wirraway
4. Silver Centenary
3. Victa R2
2. Tugan Aircraft LJW.7 Gannet
1. Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation CA-15 ‘Kangaroo’
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