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Houdini's flight into history

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Guest basscheffers
Their are 3 people who claim to have mad the first flight.

Including two that both claim to have made the same flight at Bolivar, with them being the only witnesses!

Celebrating 100 years of flight in Oz around this time is fine, but just remember: whomever it was, they all just bought the aircraft from the real pioneers; money and guts was all that was required for them, not exceptional skill or inventiveness! And that includes Houdini...



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The pilots before Houdini


From the book "Charles Kingsford Smith and Those Magnificent Men" Peter Fitzsimons Published by Harper Collins 2009.


Page 48 "In fact, Englishman Colin Defries briefly left the ground in a Wright Flyer three months earlier in Sydney, as did L.J.R. 'Jack' Jones at Emu Plains, while two South Australians, Bill Wittber and Fred Custance, also fleetingly lifted off the ground near the town of Bolivar in a Bleriot aeroplane, the latter, reportely, just the day before Houdini - although there is no doubt Custance crashed the machine. But it would be some time before these feats became widely known, and it is certain that the man who captured the public imagination as the first man to fly in Australia was Harry Houdini."


Page 45 Refering to Houdini's attempt "Nigh on three weeks earlier, on this very field, in his eagerness to be the first man aloft in Australia, an American by the name of Ralph C. Banks had ignored that rule [too windy] and promptly crashed straight after take-off ..."


Houdini saw the financial opportunities of flying when Bleriot flew the Channel and was awarded a 1,000 pounds and feted by nobility and thousands of people. He then looked for a country in which he could be the first to fly and settled on Australia, right when Australia was looking for a flyer. He brought his magic show to Australia and signed a contract for 20,000 pounds with promotor Harry Rickards provided he made ten flights in Australia each of more than five minutes duration. He did this in front of reporters and public - it was a show.


He announced (and was reported in the press) "I am the first man to have flown in Australia ..." page 47 He and the promotor moved the show to Rosehill Racetrack in Sydney and charged the public one shilling each to watch. After a week he returned to the USA a rich man and never flew again.


More on Jack Jones in "Australia's First Aviator" Peter Finlay, Aero Australia Issue No.14, 2007.


The debate on who was first to fly in Australia will rage on...





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Guest ozzie

Nancy reckons it was Fred


I saw an interview with Nancy Bird Walton and the interviewer mentioned that Houdini was the first to fly in OZ. Nancy was quick to reply and was quite vocal in stating, complete with finger poking the interviewer, that it was Fred Custance.



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