Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Hinkler’s Message to Australia; Incidents of My Flight (1928)

Synopsis

Bert Hinkler was the first Australian aviator to be celebrated by the issue of a gramophone recording. On this recording, he recalls his experience making the first solo flight from England to Australia in 1928, describes key events in the record-breaking flight and stresses the importance of flight to the future of Australia.

Curator’s notes

This recording of Bert Hinkler’s experiences of his solo flight from England to Australia was made at Columbia’s Homebush studio in Sydney in March 1928, using the then relatively new ‘electric’ recording process.

In this recording, just one month after landing, Hinkler presents his vision of aviation as a solution to problems of both international and regional transportation in Australia, and is unashamedly enthusiastic about what he calls the ‘gospel of the air’. Hinkler presents his story in a matter-of-fact style, downplaying the dramatic incidents of his flight and presenting his achievements with humility.

The public at the time was imbued with enthusiasm for the potential of air travel, and idolised pioneer aviators as heroes. The record was issued with Hinkler’s signature pressed into the disc surface, a technique that was also used for other recordings by famous contemporary figures.

Hinkler’s career in aviation commenced with the Sopwith Aviation Company in England in 1913, and he served in the RAF during the First World War as a gunner-observer and then as a pilot. Hinkler set numerous aviation records in the 1920s, including the first non-stop flight from England to Latvia, and made the 15-day solo flight from England to Australia in February 1928. Hinkler died when his plane crashed in 1933, while he was attempting to set a new record for the shortest flight time from England to Australia.

Between 1928 and 1930 other well-known aviators – Charles Kingsford-Smith, Frank Chichester and Amy Johnson – made similar recordings for Columbia about their record-breaking flights.

The new electric recording process involved the signal from a microphone being amplified, driving an electrical cutting head on the disc-cutting lathe, creating a wax master disc. The wax disc is electroplated to create a master, and then electroplated to produce a ‘mother’ disc from which ‘stampers’ are remade. Stampers are used to press the finished shellac disc.