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Alan Blencowe's
Western Australian Aviation Hall of Fame

Honour Roll

In Memory of the Pioneers of Aviation in Western Australia

(There were also many recorded balloon flights and parachute jumps in WA dating from around 1890)

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Brearley, Wing Commander Sir Norman 1890 – 1989 KB (1971), CBE (1965), DSO, MC, AFC, MID (1914-18), OSWALD WATT GOLD MEDAL (1973)* Australia's first licensed pilot (23rd August 1921).

Highly decorated pilot who established Western Australia Airways (WAA) that operated from Maylands from 1924.

 

Sir Norman Is the father of Western Australian aviation and I had the pleasure of meeting him in 1974 and in his 70's was still capable of handling an aircraft.  It was his influence that encouraged me to learn to fly.

 

Born in Geelong, Victoria (son of a farmer) he moved to Perth when young and saw a Spaniard in 1910 go up in a balloon and parachute cutting his chute away twice to land with his third.  In W.W.1 he sailed to England 'as seventh engineer' in the crew and when it burst its boiler 12 miles out of Fremantle it was he who came ip with the idea of drilling a line of overlapping rivets to seal the split.  He was interviewed for the Army by 'Plum' Warner, the famous cricketer; then into the R.F.C.

 

He went solo in a Farman Longhorn in under two hours after an argument with his instructor, night flying in seven! On the Western Front he was badly shot up, only just reaching 'no man's land' between the lines and was forced to hide in a shell hole while the aircraft was shelled. An armour-piercing bullet was removed by a surgeon later and he became a 'Gosport' flying instructor in the U.K., after insisting on returning to flying.

 

After W.W.1 he brought two Avros to Western Australia, firstly barnstorming out of Gloucester Park then developing airmail routes in the North West of WA He was awarded the first commercial flying licence in Australia. He founded Western Australian Airways Ltd. (the first airline in Australia) In 1921 hiring some famous pilots of the era flying Bristols.

 

The first regular airmail contract, in Western Australia, was awarded in December 1921, covering 1200 miles between Geraldton and Derby. Later W.A. Airways won the Perth-Adelaide airmail contract using D.H.66 Hercules. As this operation entailed night landings, he had a difficult time with the Department of Civil Aviation who insisted on unsuitable runway lighting. He finally used his own choice of lighting and the 2400-km route commenced. Always 'leading from in front' he flew many legs himself. On one of the flights, in dense fog at Port Wakefield, South Australia, he narrowly missed a mill chimney during a low turn. In 1936 he sold the airline to the Orient shipping line (P&O) to become Australian National Airways later on. As an engineer who also flew, he did a great deal for early airline development as his was considered a model operation.

 

 

 

Kingsford-Smith Sir Charles 1897 – 1935

KB (1932), MC (1914-18), AFC (1928)*

Australia's most famous aviator.  Flew for Brearley in WA.  Performed first non-stop flight across Australia on 8-9th August 1928, landing at Maylands Aerodrome.  He disappeared in the Bay of Bengal in the early hours of 8th November 1935. 

 

 

Woods James (Jimmy) 1893 – 1975

MBE, Chevalier of the Order of Orange Nassau*

He was born at Udney,Scotland,educated in Dundee.Served in the RFC in Egyptand migrated to N.Z. at war's end, moving to W.A.in 1924.   He competed in the 1934 air race to Australia but crashed the Vega at Aleppo.  On March 31st.1942 he arrived at Broome just after the Japanese had finished their historic air attack. He evacuated people ( 22 in a plane for 10!) to Pt. Headland immediately. During one such flight he bent the propeller on a concrete tie, cut off three inches off each tip with a hacksaw and took off .For his pains, was severely reprimanded by 'the Australian Authorities' who were safe down South! 

Ran the one man, Woods Airways (Rottnest Island Airlines) 'The smallest airline in the World' in his Avro Ansoncarrying out bookings, baggage handling and passenger shuttle on his own.  The aircraft was finally decommissioned and used for fire training.  He amassed 22,351 flying hours.  He also started one of the first helicopter companies in Australia.  ('Australians in the Air'by Greg Copley.)(Broome's one day war, by Mervyn Prime)

 

 

 

Taplin Leonard Thomas Eton (Len) 1895 – 1960 DFC*

First World War Ace credited with 12 victories in air who flew one of the inaugural Western Australia Airways flights.  Later he left WA Airways and virtually took over Port Hedland, becoming the town butcher, undertaker and electricity supplier.

 

 

Trestrail J.H.R. (Jock/John) 1891 – 1971

Flight engineer for Len Taplin during the inaugural northwest service of Western Australia Airways in 1921.

Survived forced landing at Murchison House in 1921 that led to the death of Bob Fawcett. 

 

 

 

Brearley Wing Commander Stanley (Stan) 1894 – 1979 DFC* (centre)

Received DFC in the Royal Flying Corps in France during WW1.  Flew in Victoria and WA for years before becoming proprietor of Perth Flying School at Maylands in 1927.  He served with the RAAF in WW2.

 

 

 

Fawcett R. (Bob) 1898 – 1921

One of the first three pilots to depart Perth with Western Australia Airways.  Helped initially to establish the first long distance airline service in Australia (3 months before Quantas).  Killed while trying to land at Murchison House Station in 1921.

 

 

 

Abbott V.R. (Val) 1892 – 1975

One of Sir Norman Brearley's original intake of pilots for Western Australia Airways for the route from Geraldton to Derby.  He later resumed his law practice and later became Attorney-General of WA 

 

 

 

Anderson Keith V. 1898 – 1929 (left)

One of Sir Norman Brearley's original intakes for Western Australia Airways.  Flew as a World War Fighter Pilot in France and planned to fly with Kingsford Smith and Ulm across the Pacific in 1927 , from the USA to Australia . However after many setbacks he had to withdraw for financial reasons and the other two did the flight in 1928 in the ' Southern Cross'. Later on in the search for the same plane , now missing in Australian rough terraine in 1929 with the same two on board, he disappeared , with his mechanic, H.S.(Bobby) Hitchcock , Due to engine failure over the desert they died of a lingering thirst and were found many days later amid national mourning.
Earlier ,in June 1927, he ,with Hitchcock and Vivian, flew in a Bristol Tourer round Australia on the 'Commercial' routes on behalf of the Bond Hosiery and Underwear Group with attendant publicity.

{ Reference William Joy in 'The Aviators' }

 

Hitchcock H.S. (Bobby) – 1929 (right)

One of Sir Norman Brierley's original intakes for Western Australia Airways. Killed in Northern Territory while assisting in the search for Kingsford-Smith in 1929.  Engineer to K.V.Anderson. 

 

 

 

Colquhoun F.B. (Frank) 1908 –

Born in 1908, Francis Bertrun Colquhoun AM. (Frank) was educated at the North Perth State School and Perth technical College.

Joined Western Australia Airways in 1923 as an apprentice.  Chief Engineer for MacRobertson-Miller Airlines at Maylands 1934 - 1950 and at Perth until 1969 leaving to take up a foreign aide position with Royal Nepal Airlines in 1969 and finally retiring from Ansett Airlines in 1978.   He was awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to aviation in 1997.

 

 

 

Seale F.J. (Fred) 1893 – 1963

Caretaker-Groundsman at Maylands from 1925.  Kept and maintained Aerodrome surface and grounds during the formative years of Australian aviation at Maylands. 

 

 


 

 

Heath "Bert”

Flew with Western Australia Airways in the 1920's.  Rescued two of the crew from the Southern Cross in 1929.  Line Honours in the 1929 WA Centenary Air Race.  Evacuated civilians from Papua New Guinea upon Japanese invasion during WW2. 

Baker Harry Frederick 1904 – 1986

A barnstormer during the late 20's and early 30's.  Renown for flying arduous flights to remote and difficult locations.  Flew with both Western Australia Airways and Australian National Airways. 

 

 

 

Chater E.H. (Eric)

Flew the first west bound service in DH-66 Hercules aircraft City of Perth” on the 2nd July, 1931.  Assisted in the search for Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith in 1929, in the Derby area in what later became known as the "Coffee Royal Affair”. 

 

 

 

Miller Horace (Horrie) Clive 1893 – 1980 Oswald Watt Gold Medal (1977)*

Flew in WW1 with Sir MacPherson-Robertson.  Formed MacRobertson-Miller Airlines (MMA) in 1934 and outbid Brearley for the North West mail contract.  In late 1934 assumed northwest air services from Western Australia Airlines.  Won Handicap section of the WA Centenary Air Race in 1929. 

 

 

 

 

Snook Wing Commander Charles William 1891 – 1948

An aviation pioneer who founded Airlines WA in 1935.  Flew in WW1 and WW2 where he gained the rank of head of the Air Training Corps.

 

 

 

AFFLECK Arthur H. (1903--19 )

Born in Melbourne & educated at Wesley College he went banking first then learned to fly as a commercial pilot, trained at Point Cook. Flew for Aust. Aerial Services, Melbourne to Hay in 1924, then Larkin Aircraft Supply Co.in 1925.Qantas in 1937, flying the Royal Flying Doctor routes. West Australian Airways in 1934. Flying to Broome regularly under very primative conditions in 1936. Papua New Guinea short landings thereafter. Joined the Civil Service as Inspector of aircraft later in 1936 and investigated many air mishaps including the Kyeema affair which accelerated the introduction of air traffic control later on. He was at the foundation of D.C.A.(Airservices) in 1939. In P.N.G. in 1942 he flew an overpowered D.H.50 with a 400hp Wasp engine to make very short landings and takeoffs! Retired as the Regional Director of Civil Aviation for PNG in 1963. (The Wandering Years by A.H. Affleck)

 

*Awards

AM - Member of the Order of Australia

KB – Knight Batchelor.   A knight who is not a peer or a member of an order.

CBE – Commander of the order of the British Empire.

DSO – Companion of the Distinguished Service Order.  Awarded to military officers for individual instances of meritorious or distinguished service in war and usually received for combat against the enemy.

MC - Military Cross.  (Established 28th December 1915 and awarded to commissioned  officers of the rank of Captain or below and warrant officers for distinguished and meritorious service in battle.  )

MBE - Member of the Order of the British Empire

DFC – Distinguished Flying Cross.  Awarded to officers and warrant officers for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty performed while flying in active operations against the enemy.

Chevalier of the Order of Orange Nassau – Knighthood awarded by the King or Queen of Netherlands.

AFC – Awarded to officers or warrant officers for an act or acts of valour courage or devotion to duty whilst flying but not in active operations against an enemy.

MID (1914-18) - Mentioned in Dispatches.

OSWALD WATT GOLD MEDAL  -  Australia's highest aviation award by the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs of Australia.  Named after barnstormer Ossie Watt who died in 1921.

 

 

 

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