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Australia's first airmail flight to be recreated 100 years on

And the planes will land at Mangalore soon after takeoff on July 16.

CHALPAT SONTI July 2, 2014 3:53am

Mangalore Airport will be the site of activities commemorating the first airmail flight in Australia 100 years ago.


The first airmail flight in Australia took place 100 years ago next week, and Mangalore will play its part in a re-enactment — just as Seymour starred in the original in 1914.

The re-enactment of Maurice Guillaux’s trip in a Bleriot XI monoplane between Melbourne and Sydney will take place between July 12-14.

There will be two mail-carrying aircraft: a Jabiru, a modern Australian lightweight sports aircraft of similar weight and engine capacity to Guillaux’s plane, will carry 1785 postcards - the same number as was carried on the original flight and based on the originals. A relay of historic aircraft will also carry a load for Australia Post.

In 1914 Guillaux, a famous French stunt pilot, made the longest airmail flight in the world at that time with his 88kg load. He left Melbourne at 9.12am on July 16 and landed in Jordan’s paddock, in the vicinity of modern-day Angelsey St and including part of where Seymour College was eventually sited, about 42 minutes later.

As local historian John Jennings recounted in the Telegraph a few years ago, the event was about four years after the master escapologist Harry Houdini had conducted Australia’s first controlled flight near Digger’s Rest.

Guillaux had initially given some exhibitions in Sydney and then sent his plane to Melbourne by train - it was likely this was the first aircraft to ever pass through the region.

Since the Frenchman didn’t know the way between the two cities, it was decided he should follow the railway line.

The Seymour Express reported: ‘‘It is a long time since Seymour presented such a scene of animation as it did yesterday morning. The streets were thronged with crowds… there were motors, wagons, carts, horsemen, paters and maters carrying children, footmen etc. … By about 9.30am there must have been fully 1000 people on the ground.’’

The road ‘‘presented the appearance of Flemington Rd on Cup day. There were motors, wagons, carts, horsemen, paters and maters carrying children, footmen — the whole forming a picturesque group’’.

A bottle of ‘‘gold-top’’ was passed around as a toast after the welcome of Shire President George Howe. Guillaux left at 10.25am for Wangaratta.

Later on Guillaux caused a bit of a sensation when landing at Wagga Wagga. He landed at the wrong one of two racecourses, touching down near the judge’s box just as a race had ended.

The re-enactment won’t be stopping in Seymour, but at Mangalore Airport about 10am on July 12, roughly 48 minutes after it leaves Melbourne. The group will be there for about 90 minutes.

For more information see www.australiasfirstairmail.com

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