[ Early - 1782 ] [ 1783 - 1849 ] [ 1850 - 1876 ] [ 1877 - 1892 ] [ 1893 - 1903 ] [ 1904 - 1960 ]


October - Lawrence Hargrave recommences development on Engine No. 31

Date? - The first airplane factory is started in France by Gabriel Voisin, Ernest Archdeacon, and Louis Blériot [Hellemans and Bunch, p.407]

The Voisin brothers: Gabriel, born in 1880 in Belleville-sur-Saône and Charles, born in Lyon in 1882 were the first people to build aeroplanes industrially. In 1907, Charles was the first French pilot in to fly a motor plane in Europe. He died in 1912 in a car accident at Corcelles (Beaujolais). There is a memorial to him on the RN6. From 1918, Gabriel devoted himself to car construction, the rapid development of aerodynamics.

Date? - Nikolai Zhukovski, "Father" of Soviet aviation founds Europe's first institute of aerodynamics

Jacques-Henri Lartigue photographs the first flight of Gabriel Voisin in the Plane Archdeacon - Merlimont, 1904


July - Herring writes to Hargrave with concerns with Engine No. 31

July - Hargrave documents work on wing arms, propeller blades and transmissions


Not until 1906 did anyone else fly in an airplane. In that year short hops were made by a Romanian, Trajan Vuia (1872-1950), living in Paris, and by Jacob Christian Ellehammer (1871-1946), in Denmark. The first officially witnessed flight in Europe was made in France, by Alberto Santos-Dumont, of Brazil(se note below). His longest flight, on Nov. 12, 1906, covered a distance of about 220 m (722 ft) in 22.5 sec.

The airplane, the 14-bis, was of his own design, made by the Voisin firm in Paris, and powered with a Levavasseur 40-hp Antoinette engine. The airplane resembled a large box kite, with a smaller box at the front end of a long, cloth-covered frame. The engine and propeller were at the rear, and the pilot stood in a basket just forward of the main rear wing. Not until near the end of 1907 did anyone in Europe fly for 1 min; Henri Farman (1874-1958) did so in an airplane built by Voisin.


Note: a reader from Denmark advises me that Jacob Christian Ellehammer (1871-1946) indeed can claim the first witnessed European flight - on September 12th 1906.


March (late) - Hargrave writes to Chanute re. Engine No. 31 - discontinued - mentions disposition of his models

March (late) - Hargrave formally ceases full time aeronautical development (yet builds five more engines and designs twenty more)

Hargrave builds Engine No. 32 with a vertical shaft two opposed cylinders to drive 'flappers'

Hargrave builds Engine No. 33, a three cylinder fixed radial with cam lifted valves driving contra-rotating propellers, one in front of engine one behind. [Shaw opp.p.140]

Hargrave designs Flying machine No. 13, a 'Wheeled Quadraplane' [his last 'series' design]

June - The Geelong Advertiser reports of successful flights made in a powered aircraft built by locals Jacobs, McIntosh Schultz and Crooks. No evidence of further development is available [Copley p.8]

September 12 Jacob Christian Ellehammer (1871-1946) made the first witnessed European flight

October 9/27 - Hargrave test Engine No. 33

October 23 - Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932) is the first person to make a controlled flight with powered heavier-than-air aircraft in Europe [Copley p.8] His 1908 Demoiselle aircraft is considered to be the first ultralight airplane.

see note above that points out that it was indeed Jacob Christian Ellehammer (1871-1946) indeed who can claim the first witnessed European flight - on September 12th

Alberto Santos-Dumont. Brazilian aviation pioneer, inventor and author - Born at Palmyra (now Santos-Dumont), Brazil on July 20, 1873, he was the son of a wealthy coffee planter. Because he came from a family of means he was able to go to Paris to study the development of the automobile and to conduct balloon experiments.

His first balloon ascent in France was made in 1896. Subsequently he began experiments with a dirigible craft in which he used a gas-powered engine similar to that used in the automobile. He completed the construction of his first airship in 1898. It was an ellipsoidal balloon which was 82. 5 feet long and 11.5 feet in diameter and powered by a 3.5 horsepower engine.

This airship, the "Santos-Dumont Number 1" was tested on a flight from Paris on September 18, 1898, but it was damaged when it hit a tree. But Santos-Dumont continued his endeavors and he constructed fourteen more airships. His first significant achievement was his winning of a prize of 125,000 francs for flying from Saint Cloud around the Eiffel Tower, a distance of about 7 miles.

On September 14, 1906 at Bagatelle he flew a biplane for an 8-second flight over an unmeasured distance. On September 14, 1908 at Issy, France he flew in the "Demoiselle" for 8 minutes. This was at the time probably the lightest plane that had ever flown successfully. Although his most significant achievements were made in lighter-than-air-craft, he nevertheless played an important role in the development of heavier-than-air flying. He died on July 23, 1932 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Alberto Santos-Dumont, Father of Aviation

November 12 - Santos-Dumont sets the first recognized absolute speed record of 25.66 mph in the Santos-Dumont Type 14-bis at Bagatelle, France. However, this speed is slower than speeds posted by the Wright brothers in the United States


March - Hargrave builds Engine No. 34, a two cylinder opposed stroke to drive 'flappers'

May - Hargrave writes in (Daily/Sydney) Telegraph "urging that young men learn aeronautical engineering being that defence for Australia was surely bound up in the aeroplane" [Shaw p.140]

October 26 - Henri Farman sets the recognized absolute speed record of 32.74 mph in a Voisin-Farman biplane at Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

December 6 - Bell's Cygnet, consisting of 3393 tetrahedral cells covered with 184 square meters of silk and carrying Lt.Thomas Selfridge, achieves flight. The kite was launched from a raft towed behind the steamer Blue Hill. Upon landing the kite was completely destroyed due to the inexperience of the ship's crew

Date? - Horatio Phillips finally flies a full size version of his 'venetian blind' aeroplane. It is the first powered flight in Great Britain. The aeroplane is 15' long, 20ft wide and 10 ft high. It weighs 500 pounds and is driven by a 22 hp engine.

Phillips had flown a pilotless, 'tethered' version 200 feet at 40 mph in 1893 at Harrow, England in 1893 and unsuccessfully trialed a piloted version in 1904.

Voisin built his first airplane for[with?] Ferber in 1907

It was based on their loose understanding of the Wright brother's design which they had not yet seen. Voisin and Ferber hadn't yet grasped the Wright's innovative system of lateral control through wing warping, hence the vertical "curtains" between the wings, designed to counter roll and give the aircraft the stability of a box kite. The result flew but was next to impossible to turn.


Aviation's Belle Epoque

"The airplane may have been born in the United States, but it underwent its adolescence in France"

Written by Robert Wohl, the article was originally published in Air & Space/Smithsonian, April/May 1996. Copyright 1996, Smithsonian Institution. All Rights Reserved.

January - Henri Farman (1874-1958), was awarded the Deutsch-Archdeacon Prize for flying the first officially observed kilometer in a closed circuit at Issy-les-Moulineaux. The flight was widely celebrated, although the Wright brothers had achieved the same feat, without French officials, in 1904.

March - Hargrave begins Engine No. 35, a 'concertina or spring' engine to drive 'flappers' [Shaw p.143]

June - Designed by the French firm Lebaudy, the République was France's answer to the Zeppelin. Its maiden flight took place in June, 1908. In September, 1908, it threw a propellor, which ripped into the gas bag. The sudden loss of lift resulted in the twentieth century's first multiple fatality air accident. French army Captain Marchal, and three crew members were killed.

October - Hargrave tests Engine No. 35

October - Hargrave designs Flying machine No. 14 [also a 'Wheeled Quadraplane' and development of No. 13] [Shaw p.145]

October 5 - Cody makes the first official powered flight in Britain at Laffans Plain, Aldershot. The flight covered a distance of 500 yards

Date? - Orville Wright makes first airplane flight that lasts an hour [Hellemans and Bunch p.413]


After doubting the accomplishments of the Wright brothers for years, French aeronautical enthusiasts were astonished at the ability of the Wright brothers to fly with complete control as demonstrated by Wilbur in Paris in 1908. Captain Ferber, pioneer French aviator, said of Wilbur, "...without him, I would be nothing." The Wright brothers established the world's first pilot training school at Pau in southern France in 1909.


April 28 - Aerial League of Australia is formed in Sydney NSW by G A Taylor and C Rosenthal. Hargrave is one of five Vice-Presidents elected. [Copley p.9]

June 12 - Hargrave converts his triplane cellular kite No. 95 into No. 96, a single cell device with the supporting surface a reverse curve like a shallow 'S' [Shaw p.150]

July 25 - Louis Blériot (1872-1936) flies a 25-hp Blériot VI monoplane from Les Baraques near Calais, France, and lands near Dover Castle, England, in a 38-km, 37-min flight across the English Channel. To win, Bleriot had to beat both Latham in an Antoinette, and Count Lambert in his Wright biplane. Bleriot's essential monoplane was his eleventh attempt to design a successful flyer.

Hubert Latham (1883-1912) was a wildly popular sportsman who took up aviation in early 1909. By July of that year he held the world's endurance record for monoplanes. Latham competed unsuccessfully to fly the English Channel before Bleriot beat him to it. He is dashingly depicted here, together with his elegant Antoinette monoplane. Latham was killed by a buffalo while hunting in Africa.

Date? - Farman makes first airplane flight of 100 miles [Hellemans and Bunch p.415]

August 22 - 28 - First International Aviation Competition Meeting held at Rheims, France

August 23 - Glenn Curtiss (at Reims), becomes the first American to claim the recognized absolute speed record as he flies at 43.385 mph in his Reims Racer biplane, narrowly beating France's Louis Blériot and winnning the Gordon Bennett Cup. Curtiss, next to the Wright brothers, is the man most responsible for the development of American aviation before 1914 but also the Wright's biggest rival, fighting them through the courts in one of the century's most unfortunate patent infringement suits.

September - Victorian Branch of Aerial League of Australia established [Copley p.9]

September - George Augustine Taylor establishes Australia's first aircraft factory at Surry Hills Sydney NSW [Copley p.9]

September 8 - Australian Government offers 5,000 pounds for a 'flying machine' for 'military purposes' [Copley p.9]

December 1 - Hargrave fits Kite No. 99 with a pendulum balance and it is presented to the RSNSW along with the paper "Rigid Stable Aeroplanes"

December 4 - Colin Defries sets out to fly his aeroplane Stella at Victoria Park Racecourse in Sydney - he crashes on takeoff hitting several sleepers buried in the ground.

December 5 - Taylor is the first person to fly a heavier-than-air aircraft in Australia (a self built 'Langley like' glider) at Narrabeen Heads, New South Wales [Copley p.9 and illust. Carroll pp. 18 19]. One Edward Hallstrom is also involved?. Taylor's wife Florence also flies the same day to become the first woman to fly in Australia.

December 18 - Colin Defries sets out again to fly his aeroplane Stella at Victoria Park Racecourse in Sydney - witnesses including members of the press claim he flew 300 yards at some 2 to 15 feet in the air - during the flight his favourite hat blew off and in trying to grab it, crashes his plane.

late? - An article in London Evening Standard refers to Hargrave as "the distinguished Australia aeronautical scientist"


February 3 - Hargrave collection dispatched to the new Deutsches Museum in Munich

Air Meet held in Los Angeles, USA

"Because of the International Air Meet of 1909 in Reims, France, enthusiasm for aviation began to grow in the United States. At an aviation meet in St Louis, a group of enthusiasts and pilots discussed the feasibility of holding an airmeet in Los Angeles. [...] Dates for the event were agreed upon. Beginning on January 10, 1910, and lasting for ten days, the airmeet would attract a variety of participants and feature not only aeroplanes, but hot-air balloons and dirigibles. Cash prizes would be awarded to those participating in scheduled events, which would include altitude, speed, and endurance competitions."



February - Harry Houdini, the world renowned magician, illusionist, and escapologist (real name: Ehrich Weiss) arrives in Australia to perform. He brings with him a 60 hp. Voisin Boxkite [Copley p.11]

March 17 - Fred Custance, following trials on Sunday March 13, flies Bleriot Monoplane No. 37 (owned by F.H. Jones and assembled by Custance and C.W. Wittber) at Bolivar near Adelaide, South Australia. He crashes on a second flight - claims by "some experts" [Carroll p. 21] over the 'controllability' of Custance's flight appears to have denied him the claim to the first to fly a powered heavier-than-air aircraft in Australia [Copley p.11 and illust. Carroll p.19]

March 18 - Houdini is (the very next day) the first person to 'officially' make a controlled flight with a powered heavier-than-air aircraft in Australia at Digger's Rest in Victoria [Copley p.11 and illust. Carroll p.20 21]. Houdini's claim has possibly stood the test of time over Custance due to his authentication of the event by nine witnesses and also his well established if not world famous popularity.

Houdini in Australia



These links were active on May 26, 1999

April - Hargrave builds Flying machine No. 14 powered by Engine No. 35 - the engine fails

April - Houdini flies his Voisin 'Boxkite' at Rosehill Racecourse, Sydney, New South Wales

May 11 - Houdini leaves Australia and sells his Voisin Boxkite in the USA on his return [Copley p.11]

July 10 - Leon Morane pushes the recognized absolute speed record to 66.181 mph in a Bleriot monoplane at Reims, France

July 16 - John Robertson Duigan (1882 - 1951) flies the first Australian built aeroplane at Spring Plains Station Mia Mia in Victoria. The aircraft, 35 feet long with a 24 1/2 foot wingspan and of his own design is powered by a 20 hp engine made by J. E. Tilley of Melbourne - Duigan flies 7 metres. [Carroll p.22]

September 30 - Duigan flies 180 metres [Carroll p.22]

late? - Sydney Smith nephew of Sir George White is sent to Australia to sell Bristol Boxkites (powered by seven cylinder Gnome rotary engines), to the Australian Government for defence purposes. He arrives with two machines (production numbers 10 and 11) and one of his test pilots Joseph Hammond a New Zealander


January 3 - Hammond test flies one of the Bristol Boxkites in Western Australia [Carroll p.23]

January 9 - Hammond gives a public demonstration - 12 mins

January 12 - Hammond gives another public demonstration - 11 mins then plane dismantled and sent to Melbourne

February 18 - Hammond flies at Altona Bay in Victoria - 31 mins

February 20 - Hammond flies from Altona Bay to Geelong in Victoria 68 kms in 55 mins

February 21 - Hammond flies back from Geelong to Altona Bay in 66 mins

February 22 - Hammond flies at Altona Bay in Victoria 44 kms in 33 mins

February 23 - Hammond takes his wife aloft to become the first woman to fly in Australia

April/May - Hammond flies in Sydney

May 12 - Edward Nieuport sets the recognized absolute speed record of 74.415 mph in a Nieuport monoplane at Chalons, France. On June 16, he will push the speed record to 80.814 mph

November 1 - Guilio Gevotti during the Italo-Turkish War, drops several small spherical bombs on Turkish troops at Ain Zaia in Turkish controlled Libya. This marks the first offensive military use of an aircraft in war


January 25 - Duigan demonstrates his aircraft to a reporter from the Melbourne Argus newspaper [Carroll p.22]

February 22 - Jules Vedrines pushes the recognized absolute speed record past the 100 mph barrier, as he hits 100.22 mph in a Deperdussin racer at Pau, France

March - Duigan flies his aircraft at Bendigo, Victoria. Duigan joins the RAFC in WWI and wins the Military Cross. He dies on July 11 1951 [Carroll p.22]

March - Hargrave builds Flying machine No. 15 powered by Engine No. 36, a three cylinder radial rotary. This was his last engine and probably built by Geoffrey Hargrave as it was referred to by Hargrave as 'Geoffrey's Engine') [Shaw p.151 and 172]

Hargrave designs Flying machine No. 16 powered by Engine No. 37, a water cooled petrol powered, four cylinder two stroke (radial?) [Shaw p.152]

August- The Military Aeroplane Competition is held at Larkhill, Wiltshire, England to select the most suitable aircraft for use by the RFC. The preferred design is the Bristol Tractor Biplane

September 12 - William Ewart Hart, a dentist by trade, has a near fatal crash on this day. Hart, who had bought a Bristol Boxkite from New Zealander J. J. Hammond and Bristol born Leslie MacDonald* for 1300 pounds and was Australia's first licenced pilot.

MacDonald died very young in a crash, while flying for Vickers

December 11 - Roland Garros, of France sets an altitude record of 18,406 feet in a Morane airplane at Tunis


May 13 - The first flight of the world's first four-engine airplane, The Russian Knight, affectionately called "Le Grand" takes place in Russia. The aircraft is designed by Igor I. Sikorsky

May 30 - The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) begins teaching aerodynamics

November 30 - In late November or early December, the first known aerial combat takes place over Naco, Mexico, between Phil Rader, flying for General Victoriano Huerta, and Dean Ivan Lamb, with Venustiano Carranza. Details are unknown, except that a dozen pistol shots are exchanged

Date? - G. A. Taylor founds the Australian Flying Corps (later the Royal Australian Airforce) at Point Cook, Victoria. Point Cook becomes the first permanent military airbase in the world and also home to the first Aircraft Museum.


June 6 - Hargrave documents work on Engine No. 36 and designs Engine No. 42, a four cylinder, two stroke radial


January 19-20 - Germany launches the first zeppelin bombing raids on England. One airship, the L.6, turns back, but two others, the L.3 and L.4, drop their bombs on Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn

April 1 - Roland Garros shoots down a German Albatros two-seater with a Hotchkiss machine gun fixed on the nose of his Morane-Saulnier Type L monoplane. The airplane's propeller is fitted with wedge-shaped steel deflector plates that protect the blades from damage as the rounds pass through the propeller arc

May 25 - Geoffrey Hargrave killed in action at Gallipoli

July 6 - Lawrence Hargrave dies of peritonitis following an operation for suspected appendicitis [ADoB says July 14]


1923 - On October 11 Margaret Hargrave dies

1946 - During the occupation of Germany after the end of WWII, twenty five complete or partially complete models from an estimated original collection of 176 are salvaged from the Deutsches Museum - damaged during allied bombing of Munich in WW2

1960 - On October 20, The Deutsches Museum Hargrave collection (less four models) returns to Australia and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. In December - The remaining four models are copied by the Deutsches Museum and the originals returned to Australia

2000 - On January 29, Australia will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Lawrence Hargrave

[ Early - 1782 ] [ 1783 - 1849 ] [ 1850 - 1876 ] [ 1877 - 1892 ] [ 1893 - 1903 ] [ 1904 - 1960 ]


© Copyright 1999 CTIE - All Rights Reserved - Caution
Created and maintained by russell.naughton@eng.monash.edu.au
Last updated August 1, 2002