Bert Hinkler My message to Australia.
Now I want to tell you a few things about flying. I make no excuses for this, because flying’s of such vital interest to Australia, and my little talk may help to further the gospel of the air.
First, bear this all-important fact in mind – that flying, that is ‘heavier than air’ flying, may never have come about but for an Australian. I refer to Lawrence Hargrave. It is a melancholy fact that Australia is apt to forget this great pioneer. He proved that the heavier-than-air machine could fly. He helped aviation into the air, so to speak. And then other aeronautical pioneers took up the great work.
It was like all other pioneering work; it was hard. There were the usual sacrifices and setbacks and scares, but aviation went from success to success, from strength to strength. Today, the experimental stage is long past. Flying is a definite improvement factor in transportation. Like other methods of transport, there may be minor disadvantages, as well as its advantages, but we are getting on. Each year sees more aeroplanes, better aeroplanes and greater public interest. I venture to say that in 20 years’ time, the aeroplane will be almost as familiar a figure in our scheme of things as the motor car is today.
Now a few words about the light aeroplane. I make no excuse for touching on this subject because I think that Australia, of all countries, offers the greatest scope for the babies of the air.
Out in the back country, where it is too much to expect either railway services or good roads, the light plane offers a most efficient means of personal communication. All that is needed is an aeroplane, level clearings, a few hundred yards square of landing grounds, and a mechanical knowledge no greater than that possessed by the average common-sense motorist. Thus equipped, back country people are no longer isolated.
There may be no qualms as to the initial outlay and running expenses. A machine like my little bus can be bought for about £750. In seven days’ flying, from England to Karachi, a distance of something more than 4500 miles, my running costs were less than £25. Far less than any car could do it for the same journey. And don’t forget that the aeroplane offers a remarkable saving of time. It is the fastest means of transportation we have.
Aviation has a lot to thank Australia for: Hawker, the Smith brothers, Parer and McIntosh, Sydney Pickles and Kingsford Smith, and many other excellent pilots you have right here in your own midst. These good Australians have done, and are doing, big things in the air. And I am quite sure that there are many other Australians who will carry on the good work.
Flying must come into its own in the Commonwealth. Only one thing is necessary – the goodwill of the public. With this assured, and the feeling is growing stronger every day, Australia will prove itself as great a flying country as Australians have proven themselves flyers.