Australia’s Centenary of Flight Celebrations
At dawn on 18 March 1910 famous American escapologist Harry Houdini made the first Australian powered, controlled, sustained flight of an aircraft in Australia at Plumpton Dam, Diggers Rest.
Everyone is invited to come along and join in the 100 year anniversary celebrations of this significant date in Australia’s aviation history by taking part in the planned festivities for the 18th, 20th & 21st of March 2010.
The events planned for the celebrations are the result of 18 months of preparation by a large number of individuals and groups from within the Diggers Rest community. The dedication of these people has ensured that there will be a lasting legacy recognising Houdini’s flight and the commemoration of this significant anniversary.
The community of Diggers Rest can be proud of what has been achieved and the town’s significant place in the history of Australian aviation.
The Festival of Flight is proudly brought to you by the Diggers Rest community in partnership with the Melton Shire Council and the Lions Club.
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On March 18, 1910, Harry performed the record Australian flight, 2 miles in 3 minutes 37 seconds, in a French Voisin Biplane.
In a lonely paddock at Diggers Rest, barely 20 miles from Melbourne, two men were learning to fly, in the summer of 1910. They were Harry Houdini, world famous for his escapes from handcuffs and bonds of every description, and Ralph C. Banks.
Side by side in the paddock stood two large tents which housed Houdini’s Voisin Biplane, and a “Wright Flyer” piloted by Ralph Banks. It had been imported to Australia and placed in the charge of Mr. Banks
Unsuccessful attempts to take off were made by Houdini on March 17, but on March 18, 1910, the three successful flights were made. Houdini recorded in his diary “never in any fear and never in any danger; it is a wonderful thing”.
Houdini was invited to fly by Taylor’s Aerial League which had decided that on the face of it there was more likelihood of an imported aircraft and pilot making the first flight than a local team.
Houdini was actually here on a theatrical tour, but he would not have brought his French built Voisin bi-plane with him without this invitation. He also brought his own mechanic, a Frenchman named Brassac. The aircraft, and mechanic, were sent up to Diggers Rest, near Melbourne, and housed in a tent. In a few words, the Voisin was really a development of the boxkite and as such owed a great deal to Hargrave.
At the time the French Government were employing boxkites of the very same type as that used by Hargrave for artillery-spotting and reconnaissance. Houdini was aware of this. He invited Hargrave to attend his first flight, but the Australian refused, replying with an acerbity foreign to his character, that he had invented this type of aeroplane many years before.
Houdini made a number of flights at Diggers Rest on the 21st, for 7 minutes and 37 seconds.
He made other flights at Rosehill during his appearance in Sydney music halls.
The curious thing is that when he left Australia he gave up flying. He sold the Voisin and never flew again, nor did he ever drive a car again.
Nobody has ever given adequate reasons for the change.
Houdini was, of course, a national figure in Australia. His theatrical appearances packed every house in which he performed.
On stage, Houdini’s message of escape and triumph over great odds was embraced by his audience. He became a household name by escaping from handcuffs, locked steel boxes, bank safes, nailed crates, prison cells and sealed water chambers.
He freed himself from a strait-jacket in a number of minutes after he was hung upside down from a tall New York building.
In Melbourne (February 17th 1909) he jumped from Queens Bridge into the much aligned, but seldom transparent, waters of the Yarra River, manacled, and yet freed himself within a few minutes, but was unnerved when he surfaced as a corpse was floating next to him.
Houdini was a showman of the first ilk, and he had no false modesty about his achievements as a performer. His aviation he regarded strictly as a hobby he was an amateur pilot, regardless of his skill. He was never known to brag of his flying.
When Houdini arrived at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, on October 24, 1926, for what would be his last performance, he had a fever of 104°F (40°C).
Despite a diagnosis of acute appendicitis, Houdini took to the stage. He was reported to have passed out during the show, but was revived and continued. Afterwards, he was hospitalized at Detroit’s Grace Hospital where he died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at 1:26 p.m. in Room 401 on October 31 (Halloween), 1926, at the age of 52.
On Stage, Sunday March 21st, 2010
Be prepared to take a trip into the realms of your imagination with one of the world’s most unique and talented illusionists – Cosentino. More than just a magic show, Cosentino must be seen to be believed. Leaving audiences on the edge of their seats from beginning to end, the action never stops. Become enthralled by Cosentino at 2.00pm on the main stage.
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On Stage, Sunday 21st March, 2010.
Young local band The Red Jane Show, will grab your attention before they even hit the first chord! A fully choreographed performance as they belt out original material as well as some as classic covers. After reaching the quarter finals of Australia’s Got Talent in 2009 as a three piece band, The Red Jane Show has been rebuilding to acquire greater heights in 2010 by adding 3 female singers to the band. Hitting the main stage at 12:45pm, it will be a show not to be missed.
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On Stage, Sunday 21st March, 2010.
Taking the stage at 2.45pm will be Australian rock legend Daryl Braithwaite, serenading the audience with songs spanning his 30 year musical career. Daryl Braithwaite came to fame in the 1970′s as a singer with Sherbet, a band which forever remains in the history books of Australian music. Throughout the 70′s, Sherbet produced 20 national Top 40 singles. Daryl then embarked on a solo career, returning to the Australian music scene in a very big way in 1988 with the release of the phenomenally successful album “Edge”, featuring four hit singles with “As The Days Go By”, “All I Do”, “Let Me Be”, and the gold single “One Summer”.
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Simon Taylor defines the difference between sleight of hand and sleight of mind magic.
Through studies in psychology, practice of hypnosis and experience in the performing arts he is able to blend a range of skills into an unforgettable presentation of illusion. His personable demeanour and energetic performance style allows Simon to deliver high powered entertainment with intellectually captivating content.
Based in Melbourne, Simon has continued to produce sold out stage shows. Along with performing at private corporate events, he currently runs a weekly magic show called My Magic Thursdays . He is regularly sought after by science groups and academics for his understanding of human behaviour and insight into the construction of illusion.
These are illusions for the mind, about the mind.
VORBC was formed with the aim of providing an environment where like minded buggy enthusiasts, both racing and non racing members, can meet for fun days, racing events, discussion and general friendship. We have developed a suitable framework of rules and regulations for buggy builders and owners to build buggies, operate them safely whilst keeping costs at an affordable level.
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The Society was established in 1968 as a volunteer group to preserve Melton’s history, and is now situated at The Willows homestead in the Historical Park, Melton. We have been involved in many community projects over the years, and now have the opportunity to create Melton’s first historical museum, also in the historical park, behind the Men’s Shed.
As well as collecting and researching historical items and cataloguing our vast collection of artefacts and photographs, we also open the Homestead to visitors every Sunday afternoon. Our volunteers give talks to schools and community groups as well as conducting group tours to the park.
Our new Museum, when finished, will house an extensive collection of local farm implements and machinery and will also showcase our history with horses. We welcome visitors to the Homestead and if you would like a tour during the week, feel free to contact us.
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The Aviation Historical Society of Australia’s (AHSA) is a group of like-minded people interested in recording and sharing the rich history of Australian aviation. Members are from all walks of life that share a common passion for aviation.
The lifeblood of organisations such as ours is research and the sharing of information. Much of our aeronautical history, has been lost or forgotten. Our aim is to save this vital part of our national story by encouraging the sharing of information, artefacts and personal experience, and to encourage participation in the Society by all interested people.
The AHSA publishes its journal Aviation Heritage four times a year, along with the Newsletter. The Society encourages members and the public to use the resources of the Society for individual research projects, magazine articles and submissions to our own publications.
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