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Famous Birthday's this week: Bert Hinkler

Portrait of Bert Hinkler, pioneer Australian aviator, standing beside a plane and carrying flying cap and goggles.
Portrait of Bert Hinkler, pioneer Australian aviator, standing beside a plane and carrying flying cap and goggles.

08/12/1892 - 07/01/1933 (Died aged 40).

Would have been his 125th Birthday.

HINKLER is quoted as telling the Australian Prime Minister Stanley Bruce: "You know, one day, people will fly by night and use the daylight for sightseeing.”

1892: Herbert John Louis Hinkler AFC, DSM, better known as Bert Hinkler, was a pioneer Australian aviator (dubbed "Australian Lone Eagle” and inventor. Hinkler was born in Bundaberg, Queensland, the son of John William Hinkler, a Prussian-born stockman. In his childhood, Hinkler would observe ibis flying near a lake at his school. After gaining an understanding on the principles of flight, he constructed and flew two gliders on beaches near his home town. He later met Arthur Burr Stone, at a travelling show in Bundaberg and again at the Brisbane Exhibition where Hinkler worked with Stone to solve a problem with the 'Bleriot' the world's first monoplane.

1913: He went to England where he worked for the Sopwith Aviation Company, the beginning of his career in aviation.

1918: Hinkler was posted to No. 28 Squadron RAF with which he served as a pilot in Italy.

1920: For the flights in 1920 and 1928 Hinkler had already won two Britannia trophies and the gold medal of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.

1921: Hinkler shipped a tiny Avro Baby to Sydney. It was filled with fuel and flown non-stop to Bundaberg, Queensland, a distance of 1,370 kilometres (850 miles).

1926: In December of this year England was bitterly cold but Bert Hinkler was well and truly acclimatised to the British weather. Bert was ready for another challenge and, such was his fame, many would come knocking at his home in Thornhill, near Southampton, England. This is the original Bert Hinkler home that was transported Welsh slate tile by tile and brick by brick to Bundaberg's botanic gardens and the centrepiece of the Hinkler Hall of Aviation precinct today.

1928: Hinkler flew the first solo flight between England and Australia, departing England on February 7 and arriving in Darwin on February 22 and back in his home town of Bundaberg on February 27.

Bert Hinkler, Queensland aviator, receiving a grand welcome after his Transatlantic flight, England, 1932.
Bert Hinkler, Queensland aviator, receiving a grand welcome after his Transatlantic flight, England, 1932.

1932: He married Katherine Rome at the age of 39.

1933: He died in January after crashing into remote countryside near Florence, Italy during a solo flight record attempt, to beat his own London-Australia solo record. He is remembered as being thoroughly courageous without being reckless, and was successful in his amazing feats because he was practically faultless as a pilot, and knew exactly what he and his machines could do.

1934: Hinkler Park, a popular park and playground in Katoomba, New South Wales, was dedicated to Hinkler. The park features a climbing frame in the shape of his aircraft and a picnic shelter featuring a commemorative plaque.

1935: Hinkler Park, adjacent to the lagoon at the north end of Manly Beach is named in his honour, and is also the site of a building for the Australian Air League. The first training Squadron opened at Manly, New South Wales on January 17.

1978: He was honoured on a postage stamp depicting his portrait issued by Australia Post.

1986: A small piece of wood, a relic from one Hinkler's hand-made gliders, was presented to the US astronaut Don Lind early in this year as a token of appreciation for his coming to Bundaberg to contribute to the Hinkler Memorial Lectures.

2017: Just 125 years ago one of Bundaberg's greatest sons was born and blazed what many believe could be one of the world's greatest aviation careers in history. The classic story of humble beginnings, diligence, ambition, self-belief and positive attitude saw him transcend location and finance obstacles to become a recognised leader in world aviation circles.

AWARDS:

1917: Distinguished Service Medal; 1920, 1928, 1931 Britannia Trophy; 1928 Air Force Cross; 1928 FAI Gold Air Medal; 1931 Segrave Trophy.

1927, 1928, 1931 and 1932: Bert Hinkler was also awarded the Oswald Watt Medal four times.

INTERESTING FACT:

His fame as a test pilot was well known as he worked for prominent aviation company A.V. Roe. His skills as a pilot are legendary and so it was that a wealthy Manchester industrialist aviator, John Leeming, sought his help to create a world record - to become the pilots of the first plane to land on a British mountain. Helvellyn, near Windamere in the Lake District was the chosen mountain. Bert and John had pre-arranged a "reputable” witness to be on the site. They attempted on December 21 and 22 but the weather was too dangerous to land and they decided to postpone the attempt. However, they flew over the mountain the next day on return to Woodford and found the weather had momentarily cleared and Bert decided to land the dual control aircraft. This they did just metres from the summit and as luck would have it a hiker was on hand to witness the record in the form of Professor W.R. Dodds of Birmingham University. Radio stations and newspapers around Britain headlined the record the next day. A marker was later placed on the site to record the landing.

SPECIAL INTEREST:

Visit the Hinkler Hall of Aviation in The Bundaberg Botanical Gardens and see this and many more stories of Bert Hinkler's extraordinary life.

Topics:  125th birthday bert hinkler general-seniors-news hinkler hall of aviation seniors news


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