AVIATION visionaries and a replica of the first plane to be designed, built and flown in Australia took centre stage at a gala event in Wagga at the weekend.
The 2015 Australian Aviation Hall of Fame gala dinner saw 175 guests from all over the nation gather at Joyes Hall on Saturday night to see six aviation pioneers – and the Temora Aviation Museum – inducted into the prestigious hall of fame.
Founded in 2010, the hall is an initiative of the aviation industry and head-quartered in Wagga.
Among the inductees was Deniliquin’s John Macknight, founder of Macknight Airlines, which serviced the Riverina from 1969 to 1991.
The Temora Aviation Museum received the coveted Southern Cross Award in recognition of its outstanding contribution to the industry.
Since opening its doors in 2000, about 500,000 visitors have toured the museum.
Other inductees included Sir Donald Anderson, considered the “father of air traffic control” in Australia, renowned aeronautical engineer Henry Millicer and world-renowned glider designer and manufacturer Harry Schneider.
Sir Patrick Gordon Taylor, best known for his gallantry in climbing out on to the Southern Cross’s strut to transfer oil from a stricken engine while on a flight to New Zealand, was also an inductee.
Joining him was Charles Ulm, who partnered Sir Charles Kingsford Smith on the first flight from the US to Australia.
Another highlight of the night was the unveiling of the Duigan “Pusher” Biplane replica, which has been hung inside the airport terminal building. The aircraft was the first to be designed, constructed and flown in Australia and flew on July 16, 1910 near Kyneton, Victoria.
The brainchild of John Duigan, the aircraft was at the very forefront of aircraft design for the day and considerably ahead of the Wright Brothers, who flew for the first time only seven years earlier.
The replica is the result of a collaboration between Wagga City Council, the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame and the replica owners, the Australian Aviation Museum.
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