Inside the Collection

The Parramatta flying dentist: a model story

Aircraft model of Bristol Boxkite flow
B2562, aircraft model of Bristol Boxkite flown by W E Hart and J Hammond, made by E Mead and R Coombes, 1978, gift of The Air Force Association, Parramatta Branch in memory of Mr E Mead Collection: Powerhouse Museum

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.

The model aircraft featured above was made by Mr Edgar Meade and Mr Ray Coombes to celebrate the flights of Joseph Hammond and William Ewart ‘Billy’ Hart. Its one tenth the size of a Bristol boxkite plane and was used in a display for Foundation Week in Parramatta in November 1976, prior to being acquired by the Museum in 1978. lt adds to the Museum’s collection of Australian aviation material and models.

Billy Hart landing in Parramatta Park, 1911 surrounded by many spectators
Billy Hart landing in Parramatta Park, 1911. Image Courtesy Mr Robert Shayler, donor. Collection: Parramatta Park Trust

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.

Billy hart with plane and caption "William Ewart hart, first Australian Aviator, born Parramatta, NSW April 20, 1885
Image from Jubilee History of Parramatta, 1861-1911. p196.

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

2 responses to “The Parramatta flying dentist: a model story

  • Billy Hart was one my great great uncles. I was amazed to see this info on the nine msn site. I am quite excited actually. I have the original news paper clippings, handed down to me from my Mum, of Billy’s adventures. I had thought about handing them to the Aero Museum, I think that is in Bankstown. What do you think? Or maybe to the libary

  • Hi Anni. Please give my email address to Di Smith as I am a distant relative of Aviator Billy Hart. I wish to share my research with her. It was Billy’s 130th birthday on the 20th of April this year.
    Thank you, Greg

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