Speakers before June 2016

May 2014 Flyers of Time – Kevin O’Reilly

Flyers of Time (from our newsletter June 2014 by Alan Williams

In 1919, many Australian airmen – survivors of WW1 – returned home bringing with them their purchases of war surplus aircraft from the UK and Egypt with the intention of establishing commercial aviation ventures in Australia.

Kevin O’Reilly, our Keynote Speaker in May, had stories and anecdotes accompanied by unique photographs of the various aircraft and the men who flew them. These planes looked anything but safe and secure — even the occasional bicycle tied to the wing for emergency transportation — and often with a mechanic in the cockpit to attend to engine malfunctions along the way. Nevertheless, people queued up for joy flights from Fisherman’s Bend or travel to country towns where the main street or local racecourse were used as makeshift airports. Kevin told us of Charlie Pratt, one of the veteran flyers who, arrived at Victoria Dock in the middle of a dock strike, and frustrated by the delay, prevailed upon the ship’s captain to unload one of his planes onto the wharf where he
re-assembled it and flew straight off the wharf.

Charlie was also a remarkable photographer and we saw some of his amazing aerial pictures of Melbourne City and Suburbs in the 1920s and 30s. Our thanks to Kevin O’Reilly for his interesting stories of ‘those daring young men in their flying machines.

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