“3... 2...1 contact!” is what my mother would say as she recalled sitting on the wing of a Gypsy Moth. The propeller would then spring into action. These were the days of early aviation in Victoria.

The photo below shows my mother in her pinafore and sandals standing on an aeroplane wing. She is about three years old, so I date the occasion to be 1928. This must have sparked her sense of adventure and a lifelong interest in travel.

According to family folklore my grandfather put up the first hangar at Essendon Aerodrome. He was a very forward-thinking chap; I would say he was an entrepreneur. He embarked on various business opportunities however it is not clear whether he invested in the Essendon aeroplane hangar or perhaps constructed it. My mother always said she could go out to the airport and tell you exactly which hangar it was because there were cracks in the concrete running diagonally across the floor near the entrance way.

I researched this anecdote when I heard about the 100-year anniversary of Essendon Airport and my grandfather, John Hider, was indeed a director of Hart Air Service Pty. Ltd. along with James Hart and Norman Charles Trescowthick. In 1929 the company commenced business with a capital of five thousand pounds. So, perhaps not the first hanger, but one of the first few established there.

Alas, I have a fear of flying but I do marvel at the spirit, dedication, technical expertise and risks taken in the early ground-breaking years by those initial engineers, pilots and investors of the Australian aviation industry.

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