Aviation in Australia | State Library of New South Wales

Aviation in Australia

Aviation in Australia traces the history of flight from its infancy through to the twentieth century. The European dreamers and experimenters of the 1780s influenced Australia's first balloonists: Dean, Gale and L'Estrange. All had varying degrees of success in getting airborne.

Charles Ulm

Detail from Charles Ulm flying aircraft VH-UOL over Mascot, Sydney, 1930, Photograph Pic.Acc.5116 /123 

Escapologist Harry Houdini made Australia's first controlled flight in 1910. Biplanes, box kites and hydroplanes were predominant in the early 20th century and airmail, first carried by Maurice Guillaux, became a regular service between the main cities of Australia.

With time and improved flying machines, aviators became more ambitious. Flight durations and distances grew until Ross and Keith Smith made the first flight between England and Australia in 1919.

Explore the exciting world of aviation and learn of the successes and disasters of an evolving mode of transport.


Aviation in Australia is made possible through a partnership with Qantas.

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Aviation in Australia
Made possible through a partnership with QANTAS