William Ewart Hart - One of Australia's First Aviators

William Ewart Hart, First Australian Aviator, Born Parramatta, NSW, April 20, 1885
William Ewart Hart, First Australian Aviator, Born Parramatta, NSW, April 20, 1885





The following article appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on 4th November 1811, the day after his successful flight from Penrith to Parramatta:—

Yesterday morning Mr. W. Hart, Jun. (son of Mr. W. Hart, of Davey-street, Parramatta), flew in his aeroplane to Parramatta from Penrith.

Mr. Hart has been in Penrith for some weeks, making preparations for this aerial trip. At first he had bad luck, for a storm wrecked his machine, and he had practically to rebuild It. He made the whole of the woodwork himself. Mr. Hart, who is a dentist by profession, learnt the art of aviation from Mr. McDonald, from whom he purchased the machine, a Bristol aeroplane. The trip from Penrith to Parramatta occupied 19 minutes, and the distance flown was estimated at 19 miles. Earlier in the morning Mr. Hart made three trips from Penrith, in the direction of the Mountains, each trip being about 15 miles, and on each occasion he took a passenger with him. Then came the trip to Parramatta, when Mr. Hart took his brother with him. A beautiful descent was made in the Parramatta Park.

After breakfast Mr. Hart essayed to make the return trip. The wind was then getting up, and the aviator decided to return alone. Leaving the part Mr. Hart soon found the wind altogether too tricky, and as the machine was commencing to play pranks he took advantage of a nice clear paddock at Seven Hills, where he made a good descent. He secured his machine, and it is to remain there till favourable weather conditions allow of a return trip.

Seen after the flight, Mr. Hart said: "I went up for my second flight all alone this morning. Mr. M'Donald, my instructor, having been called away to England, I was practically left to my own resources. Yesterday I made a couple of little flights at Penrith, and this morning I made three trips, two of them with passengers on board. Then it occurred to me to take a trip to Parramatta, my native town, and have breakfast with my father. I took my brother Jack as a passenger, and making a good ascent at about a quarter to 7 I reached Parramatta in less than 20 minutes. I flew at the rate of 60 miles an hour, and reached an altitude of about 3000ft. My brother, who accompanied me, is only 46 years of age.

"At North Rocks, as we were circling round, we met a nasty wind, and the machine rocked and dived very much-like a cork in a gale. At times she stood right on her-tail, and then she would swoop down like a tumbler pigeon, and drop twenty yards without the least warning. However, after flying over the gaol we headed for Parramatta Park, where we made a splendid landing. I then went and had breakfast with my father, and, after breakfast I thought I would do a circle or two of my native town.

"I made a good ascent, and the machine flew like a bird, shooting along for about 200 yards, a few feet above the ground. Then I let her go up, in order to avoid the tree-tops at Westmead. On getting over the trees I found the current very choppy, and the machine started to rock like a cradle. I thought it best to abandon my idea of circling round the town, and keep on my way to Penrith. The wind is what is called a following wind, and it kept bearing the machine towards the ground. I was alone on this trip. I did not care to take my brother with me, knowing that the wind was very tricky, "On approaching Seven Hills the weather did not improve, and, as this was only my second trip alone, I did not think it wise to run any undue risk, so I decided to descend.

There was a nice clear paddock handy, and into this I dropped, and pulled up safe and sound. After waiting for a while, I saw that the wind was getting even more gusty, so I gave up the idea of continuing any further that day. I roped the machine down securely, and will await more favourable conditions before I complete the return trip." Mr. Hart is 26 years of age, and he can lay claim to being the first Australian who has made a successful flight unaided and unattended.

  1. A Good Flight. (1911, November 4). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 21.
  2. The Jubilee History of Parramatta: In Commemoration of the First Half-Century of Municipal Government 1861-1911; Edited by J. Cheyne Wharton; Parramatta, New South Wales; 1911

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