Close message Scootle will stop supporting resources that use the Adobe Flash plug-in from 18 Dec 2020. Learning paths that include these resources will have alerts to notify teachers and students that one or more of the resources will be unavailable. Click here for more info.

Image Aviator William Ewart Hart's biplane, 1911

TLF ID R3351

This is a 23.4 cm x 38.8 cm sepia-toned photograph of the homemade biplane of one of Australia's first aviators, William Ewart Hart (1885-1943), after its 1911 landing on the Sydney Showground, New South Wales. A crowd has gathered around the aircraft, obscuring Hart from view.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows a crowd of people gathered to welcome William Ewart Hart, the man credited as being 'Australia's first aviator' - Hart was a Sydney dentist who, in 1911, became the first Australian to be awarded a pilot's certificate by the Royal Aero Club in England, after teaching himself to fly and passing tests in Australia; Hart was later granted the first Australian pilot's certificate at Penrith, NSW and, during the First World War, he was a flying instructor for the Australian Flying Corps.
  • It shows the conclusion of one of Hart's pioneering flights - he had just flown from Penrith to Sydney to become the only person ever to land on the Sydney Showground and take off again; during the course of the journey, Hart reached a speed of almost 60 kilometres per hour and a height of 1,980 metres; previously, on 4 November 1911, Hart had made the first cross-country flight in Australia, flying from Penrith to Parramatta Park, and covering the distance of 18 miles in 12 minutes.
  • It features Hart's homemade biplane - it was fitted with a 37-horsepower engine; the seat was on the front of the machine, so the pilot had no defence against the weather; the fabric wings had been coated with a mixture of sago and hot water that tightened the material as it dried; although the plane was extremely difficult to fly because it was very slow, it flew for a total of about 16,000 kilometres; towards the end, however, it was crashing almost weekly.
  • It shows that Hart's machine appears very flimsy by today's standards, illustrating the dangers faced by early aviators - the small powered engines available at the time could not lift much weight, so there was no protection for pilots involved in crashes; in 1914, Hart was almost killed when his plane crashed from a height of about 90 metres, breaking both his legs and fracturing his skull.
  • It shows some of the buildings at the Sydney Showground, including an early grandstand.
  • It shows men's clothing, including trousers held up by suspenders - almost half the men appear to be dressed in white clothing, suggesting they may have been either playing or practising cricket prior to the appearance of Hart's aircraft.
Year level

3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • history;
  • studies of society and environment
  • History/Historical knowledge and understandings
  • Studies of society and environment/Time, continuity and change

Other details

  • Content provider
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: National Library of Australia
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of National Library of Australia
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1938
  • Organisation: Sydney Morning Herald
  • Remarks: publisher
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 31 Aug 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning resource type
  • Image
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer - minimum version: 8.0 (MS-Windows) - maximum version: 9.0 (MS-Windows)
  • Firefox - minimum version: (MS-Windows)
  • Safari - minimum version: 5.1 (MacOS)
Operating systems
  • MacOS - minimum version: 10.6
  • MS-Windows - minimum version: XP - maximum version: 7
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements