Today celebrates 100 years since an adventurist dentist and self taught aviator landed in Parramatta Park in a Bristol Boxkite.
The aviator William Ewart “Billy” Hart, made one of the earliest and longest flights in New South Wales, when he flew from Penrith and landed in Parramatta Park.
Parramatta Park curator Verena Mauldon says research has shown that
Billy Hart The young dentist, from a wealthy Parramatta family, had a keen interest in mechanics and purchased his own Boxkite for ?1 300. He had some lessons, but crashed the biplane early on and had to rebuild his aircraft from the debris in his father’s Parramatta workshop.
Billy became a local sensation as he tinkered with the machine for months on the ground and then taught himself to fly.
This flight was acclaimed as a remarkable performance, both across the international aviation world and by the startled locals who watched him land on the Parramatta Park cricket fields . In this first cross country flight in New South Wales, Hart astonished the community by travelling a distance of 18 miles (29km) in under 20 minutes, and his aircraft reached an altitude of 3000 feet.
In 1912 Hart crashed a monoplane he had built at Richmond, and was hospitalised for two months. During the First World War he served as a flying instructor in No1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps in Egypt and Britain, but was sent home as medically unfit. Hart’s flying career was brief but illustrious, and he was remarkable in that he survived to resume his career as a dentist in 1918. He remained interested in aviation until his death in 1943.”
The model will be on display at the Parramatta Heritage Centre from mid November 2011 until January 2012.
Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 4 November 1911, p.6; 12 January 1912, p.6; 10 February 1912, p11 and 3 July 1912, p2