Military aviation history takes flight at RAAF Museum
19 September 2013
An historic moment in Australian military aviation has been captured at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Museum at Point Cook.
A Bristol Boxkite replica aircraft built at the RAAF Museum in Victoria completed a program of flight testing when the aircraft was successfully flown by Air Vice Marshal Mark Skidmore (retired) on Wednesday, 11 September.
Air Vice Marshal Skidmore (retired), a former F-111 pilot and test pilot with the RAAF’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia, said the aircraft flew approximately one thousand metres and reached a top speed of about 42 miles an hour.
“It was an exhilarating and humbling experience, I am honoured and proud to follow those aviators who pioneered military aviation in this country.
“I now also have the honour of being the only RAAF pilot who has flown both the fastest and slowest aircraft in the Air Force. The Bristol Boxkite has a rich history in the evolution of military aviation in Australia, it was the first official military aircraft built in this country and used to train our first military pilots,” Air Vice Marshal Skidmore said.
Developed in the UK in 1910 by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company, the Bristol Boxkite first flew on 29 July of that year. It was ‘state of the art’ in its time and also one of the most successful trainers of the era.
A Bristol Boxkite was flown in Australia for the first time on the morning of 1 March 1914, when Lieutenant Eric Harrison, an aviation instructor with the Central Flying School (CFS), took one into the air at Point Cook, Victoria. The airfield was then the home of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC).
The AFC, the forerunner of the Royal Australian Air Force, initially operated two Bristol Boxkites between 1914 and 1917.
The first Bristol Boxkite to be built in Australia was constructed by CFS at Point Cook and flew its maiden flight on 10 August 1915.
Lieutenant Harrison’s historic flight in 1914 is however recognised as the starting point of military flying in Australia. In recognition of this historical significance, RAAF Base Point Cook will play host to the Centenary of Military Aviation in Australia event on 1 to 2 March 2014 with the Bristol Boxkite replica as a major draw card.
Video compile of test flight and interview with Air Vice Marshal Mark Skidmore (retired) is available at: http://video.defence.gov.au/?mediaId=cc26557c-49db-49ff-8954-bc67bf890185
Images are available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5002
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999