Selected Events in Australian Civil Aviation History 1903-2003


17 Dec 1903The Wright brothers make the first sustained, controlled flight in a powered heavier than air flying machine at Kitty Hawk, USA.
18 Mar 1910Harry Houdini makes the first recognised flight in a heavier than air craft in Australia at Diggers Rest, Vic.
16 Jul 1910 John Duigan makes the first flight of an Australian designed and built aircraft at Mia Mia, Vic.
10 May 1915Aerial Navigation Regulations require the registration of all civil aircraft with the military authorities.
19 Mar 1919The Commonwealth Government announces a prize of 10,000 pounds for the first Australian airmen to fly from England to Australia - won, after a trip of 27 days 20 hours, on 10 Dec by Ross and Keith Smith, accompanied by mechanics Bennett and Shiers. Their Vickers Vimy G-EAOU is preserved at Adelaide Airport.
16 Nov 1920Q.A.N.T.A.S. Ltd. is registered in Brisbane to operate air services in outback Queensland. Today Qantas is the second oldest airline in the world (after KLM) still operating under its original name.
28 March 1921 The Civil Aviation Branch (CAB) of the Department of Defence is formed to regulate civil aviation in Australia.
5 Dec 1921Western Australian Airways commences the first scheduled air service in Australia, between Geraldton and Derby, WA. The service is supported by subsidies provided through the CAB.
June 1924 Controller of Civil Aviation Lt Col Brinsmead, with Capt E.J. Jones and R.H. Buchanan, makes the first circumnavigation of Australia by landplane while surveying air routes.
1926The Commonwealth Government, through the CAB, commences subsidising civil flying training to provide a pool of pilots for defence purposes in time of need.
Jun-Oct 1926Alan Cobham makes the first return flight England-Australia-England.
May-Jun 1928 Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm, with Harry Lyon and James Warner, make the first flight across the Pacific from the USA to Australia. Their aircraft, the Fokker VIIb-3m Southern Cross is preserved at Brisbane Airport.
Oct 1934 The Centenary Air Race from London to Melbourne is won by C.W.A. Scott and Tom Campbell Black in DH88 Comet racer G-ACSS with a time en route of 71 hours 1 minute.
10 Dec 1934Australia’s first scheduled international air service linking Brisbane with London commences, the Brisbane-Singapore sector operated by Qantas Empire Airways (QEA). The whole trip takes eleven days.
May 1936 The first all-metal Douglas DC-2 is imported into Australia for use by Holymans Airways on their Melbourne-Sydney and Tasmania routes.
Oct 1937 All airliners are required to carry radio. A supporting chain of ground stations is established, including Direction-Finding equipment.
Aug 1938Commencement of the Empire Flying Boat service linking Australia and England. Trip time is reduced to 9 ½ days.
Oct 1938 ANA DC-2 Kyeema overshoots Essendon airport in cloud and crashes into Mt Dandenong, Vic. The Civil Aviation Board is spurred into commissioning the chain of 33 MHz ‘Lorenz’ radio navigation beacons installed in 1937, becoming the first such chain used for en route navigation in the world. The CAB becomes the Department of Civil Aviation. Flight Checking Officers are employed to scrutinise flight plans and keep track of airliners in flight - the forerunners of Air Traffic Control.
Jun 1943 QEA commences a wartime emergency service linking Perth with Ceylon (Sri Lanka) using Catalina flying boats. This remains the world's longest duration scheduled airline service, with the longest crossing taking 32 hours 9 minutes (non-stop!).
Dec 1947QEA introduces the Lockheed Constellation and commences the first regular service operated all the way to England by Australians.
1955A network of Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) radio beacons developed in Australia is commissioned - the first such network in the world.
29 July 1959Qantas commences its first scheduled jet service, from Australia to the USA using the Boeing 707.
1964 The first production T-Visual Approach Slope Indicator System (T-VASIS) unit is commissioned at Hobart airport, Tas. The Australian T-VASIS is acknowledged as the best visual approach slope guidance system in the world.
2 Nov 1964Domestic jet airline services commence with TAA and Ansett-ANA using Boeing 727s.
17 Sep 1971 Qantas commences scheduled services with its first Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo Jet’, the aircraft’s size necessitating major airport upgrades.
28 March 1996 The celebration of 75 years of civil aviation administration in Australia.
1998 Transition commences into The Advanced Australian Air Traffic System (TAAATS) computerised air traffic control system. Satellite datalink communications are available between air traffic control and suitably equipped airliners.
17 Dec 2003 The Centenary of Powered Flight

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