Aviation history takes flight at RAAF Museum
On 1 March 1914, No 1 Flight of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) commenced military flying in Australia. Lieutenant Eric Harrison took to the skies in a Bristol Boxkite.
The Bristol Boxkite was first manufactured in July 1910 by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, set up by George White, the Bristol born electric tram millionaire. White based his design on the earlier Henry and Maurice Farman pusher biplane and, on advice from the British War Office, the Australian Government purchased the Bristol Boxkite for pilot training.
Constructed of wood, linen and wire, and powered by a single 50 horsepower (37kW) Gnome rotary four piston engine, the Boxkite had a top speed of 64 kilometres per hour. The aircraft had no safety belts and the only instrument was an engine oil indicator. With its light weight of approximately 550 kilograms and its low power, the Bristol Boxkite was at the mercy of strong winds, so Boxkite flying had to be conducted either early in the morning or in the evening.