Image Bert Hinkler servicing his aeroplane, 1928

TLF ID R2932

This is a black-and-white photograph, taken in Canberra in 1928, of Bert Hinkler (1892-1933) working on the engine of the twin-seat Avro Avian he flew single-handed from England to Australia in that year. The image was made from a glass negative measuring 10.0 cm x 12.5 cm.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset depicts a famous Australian pilot of the 1920s and 30s - Bert Hinkler was born in Bundaberg, Queensland in 1892; as a young man he became intensely interested in flying and built and flew his own gliders in 1911 and 1912; he joined the Sopwith Aviation Company in England in 1914 and later that year he enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service and served in the First World War as an observer-air gunner and as a pilot; he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1917; after the war Hinkler joined A V Roe and Co in England and from 1921 to 1926 was Chief Test Pilot for the company.
  • It shows Hinkler in the year he made the first solo flight to Australia from England, taking 15.5 days and thereby cutting the previous 1919 record held by the two-crew team, Keith and Ross Smith, by nearly half.
  • It shows Hinkler in Canberra - Hinkler had come to Canberra to be presented with a cheque for £2,000 and a gold cigarette case by Prime Minister Stanley Bruce for his record-breaking flight; Australian government prizes such as this, along with sponsored air races, were ways of opening up the country to the possibility of air travel, including commercial opportunities (Qantas in 1921) and social services (the Flying Doctor Service in 1928).
  • It depicts a pilot who was the first Australian aviator to gain true international prominence through his First World War flying reputation, his testing of experimental aircraft (including early helicopter prototypes) and his long-distance flying records - Hinkler is shown here in 1928, the same year that fellow Australians Charles Kingsford Smith (1897-1935) and Charles Ulm (1897-1934) completed the first air crossings of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea.
  • It illustrates the 'hands-on' attitude of Hinkler, who was meticulous about the condition of his aircraft and carried out his own aeroplane maintenance - he had the mechanical knowledge and expertise to modify aeroplanes, such as the one in which he made his record-breaking England-Australia flight, to suit his own requirements.
  • It depicts Hinkler's Avro 581E Avian G-EBOV, the single-engine biplane with which he shattered a number of flying records, including the England-Australia record - aeroplanes of the 1920s and 30s lacked today's sophistication and safety features and Hinkler was eventually killed in an air crash in the Apennine Mountains of Italy while trying to set another record between England and Canada via Australia.
  • It shows a camera set up in the background - at least two cameras were in use, indicating Hinkler's celebrity status; people in Australia identified with him as a romantic figure embodying a 'do-it-yourself' attitude, as shown by the nickname 'Hustling Hinkler' given to him by a newspaper editor, and a hit song about him, 'Hustling Hinkler up in the sky'.
  • It illustrates a plate camera, complete with a hood to exclude the light while the photographer was focusing - such cameras were in common use until the 1930s and were particularly important in documenting history as, despite their impractical size and clumsy bulk, the negatives they produced were large and clear, enabling quality prints and enlargements to be made.

Other details

  • Content provider
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: National Library of Australia
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of National Library of Australia
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1928
  • Name: Alexander Collingridge
  • Remarks: photographer
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 30 Aug 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
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Learning resource type
  • Image
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  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements