World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2019: Bert Hinkler’s 'gospel of the air'
Bert Hinkler from Bundaberg, Queensland, became the first person to fly solo from England to Australia.
Hinkler’s successful flight was a feat the world had not yet seen, nor expected. Leaving with no fanfare from Croydon Aerodrome, England on 7 February 1928, Hinkler zig zagged across the continents in a single-engine Avro Avian aircraft. Reaching India, the press began to take notice and public interest intensified, and when Hinkler landed at the Darwin airstrip on 22 February 1928 in a time of 15 1/2 days or 128 hours, his record breaking journey had the attention of the world’s media.
World Day for Audiovisual Heritage
UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage (WDAH) serves to advocate for the significance of audiovisual archives as a resource of our collective memory, and the importance of conserving our shared heritage, now and into the future.
This year, World Day for Audiovisual Heritage encourages us to ‘Engage with the Past through Sound and Image’. A sound recording of Bert Hinkler’s message to Australia, ‘Incidences of my Flight’ which he gave on 13 March 1928, is a natural choice to do so.
OH 14 Bert Hinkler Oral History 13 March 1928 was recorded 3 times, each at different settings from the original Columbia record (78 speed), to maximise playback clarity. There is some extraneous noise in the recording, some muffled bumps and crackling, which only emphasises the realisation of listening to, and not reading, this piece of Queensland history as it is spoken by the very person who created it.
“I want to tell you a few things about flying”
Hinkler’s address begins with acknowledging Lawrence Hargrave, “heavier than air flying would not have come about if not for this great pioneer”; before he accurately speaks of aviation from going to strength to strength.
“I venture to say in 20 years’ time the aeroplane may be as familiar a figure in our scheme of things, as a motor car is today.”
Buoyed by his recent success, Hinkler heralds light aircraft as ushering in a new era of personal transportation in Australia and proclaims that all one needs to fly “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".
Hinkler speaks from a position of confidence, of someone whose success manifested from their determination and courage. His contagious sense of adventure is enough to inspire a fossick into acquiring a personal pilot’s licence, and adding it to the bucket list.
“To sit in a snug little cockpit, to see the world rolling away below, to hear the sweet even note of the engine... well, to me, flying… this is the salt of life.”
His enthusiasm is grounded in his vision of Australia having as many licenced pilots as drivers; approaching 100 years later our reality is closer to ordering a helicopter via Uber.
When Hinkler mentions how much cheaper and faster it is to fly than drive the same distance from England to Karachi in Pakistan, and that you could pick up a flying machine like his for £750 with low overheads, you can practically hear the ears of future Qantas investors leaning towards the speaker. As well as writing himself into a chapter of aviation history, it isn’t difficult to imagine he inspired listeners to pursue the same.
Captured on a 78 speed record, copied to cassette by John Simpson of Record Market, Queen Street in 1993, and now digitised and available to listen online, State Library has ensured three levels of conservation for this slice of Queensland history so you too, can continue to 'Engage with the Past through Sound and Image'.
- Our Caring for your Collections guides offer practical advice on how to preserve your digital memories
- OM68-24 Bert Hinkler Papers ca.1909-1944
- Bert Hinkler's Record Flight (1928) - this month in Queensland's history
- Bert Hinkler letters now available online
Jacinta Sutton, A/Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland