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First Australian airmail trip re-enacted

Benalla was a stop-point for a historic centenary re-enactment of the first airmail flight in Australia.

CHLOE WARBURTON July 14, 2014 3:53am

Pilot Mark Carr with his Winjeel.


A historic re-enactment of the first airmail flight in Australia a century ago stopped over at Benalla Airport on Saturday.

French airman Maurice Guillaux first made the flight between Melbourne and Sydney in 1914 — the longest airmail flight in the world at that time, with an 88kg load.

The re-enactment began at Essendon Airport on Saturday morning, before touching down at Mangalore Airport.

The mail load was handed from Michele Schiffer’s Pacific Aerospace CT-4 to Benalla pilot Mark Carr’s Winjeel VH-CZE and both flew on to Benalla Airport, where they were joined by John Lindsay’s Dragon Rapide from the 1930s.

Benalla Rural City Council manager economic development and tourism Jeanie Hall said Benalla’s aviation history made it an excellent spot for a stopover in the flight.

‘‘The Aviation Museum at the airport is the historic home of the 11 EFTS Wartime Training Unit, which was stationed at Benalla from 1941 to 1945, and from where some 80 de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moths were operated,’’ Ms Hall said.

Glider pilots joined the re-enactment, carrying mail cargoes to Wangaratta for the following leg.

The Benalla Aviation Museum commemorated the day with a special event for vintage aircraft buffs, with the chance to see the 1931 French Flying Flea at the museum.

The special mail delivery is expected to be delivered to Powerhouse Museum in Sydney today as centrepiece of a reception held to commemorate Bastille Day, conducted by the French Consul-General M Eric Berti.

Other mail loads being carried include a replica of original mail, 1785 numbered postcards, token air freight Madura Tea and Murray Valley Fruit Juice, and other items related to the French companies who have sponsored the flight.

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