Acquisitions

Ron Gretton, Geoff Matthews and James Kightly. Bristol Boxkites at Point Cook: Commemorating the Centenary of Australian Military Aviation 1914-2014. Werribee: Project 2014, 2014. In 1995 a group of volunteers decided to build a flying replica of the first Australian military aircraft, a Bristol Boxkite. It first flew late last year, and flew again at the Centenary of Military Aviation 2014 Air Show held at Point Cook just last week -- appropriately, since the centenary being marked is that of the first Australian military Boxkite flight, which took place at Point Cook in 1914. This is a handsome and well-illustrated volume covering the origins and history of the Boxkite, including that historic first flight, as well as the construction and first flight of the replica, now part of the RAAF Museum's collection. You can order a copy from the Boxkite 2014 website; I got one for free because James Kightly AKA JDK was part of the project, and asked me to do some research on how the first flights were reported in the Australian press.

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6 thoughts on “Acquisitions

  1. Wow, I didn't realise how badly I needed to make it into the exclusive set that is Brett's blog's "Acquisitions". Another tick on the life achievements list.

    A little more seriously, a big thanks to Brett for a detailed, comprehensive and quality bit of research than helped both the detail we went into in the history section in this book, and also informed the project as well.

    He doesn't realise it, but he was looking over my shoulder as well when we worked hard to ensure that the history content was both properly endnoted, and of academic value (we very much hope) as a reference work. A great deal of this work was done by the academically experienced Bev Laing, and I would also like to mention the book's other main team member Andrew Willox, responsible for the design, the book's format and overall 'look' and arranging for and managing our printer.

    The book has several parts, a history of how we got to the first flight in 1914, an overview of period flying and flying training and the environment (by me) carefully referenced as above.

    The other value it has is a firsthand account by designer and builder of the Boxkite replica, Wing Commander Geoff Matthews, RAAF retired, of the build process, in which this book is a primary source, complimenting Geoff's notes deposited with the RAAF Museum. This is introduced by a section on the 'why' of the replica build project, by Group Captain Ron Gretton, AM, RAAF retired, and Geoff. It also has the pilot's account of the first test flight phase of the replica.

    We hope the book will serve as a long-term reference to the project and the idea of the project as well as the original history, as (in their different ways) they are both significant, the modern history being easy to overlook or leave poorly documented.

    It was (like the Boxkite replica itself!) a lot of hard work, but has been so far well received, and we are pleased with it and think it has done the job we hoped to do. I hope to get a review by Brett in due course, which will be highly valued, and still expected to be properly critical!

  2. Post author

    We hope the book will serve as a long-term reference to the project and the idea of the project as well as the original history, as (in their different ways) they are both significant, the modern history being easy to overlook or leave poorly documented.

    Yes, it certainly achieves that. I can well imagine that few restoration/replica projects also produce a publication (or an 'output', as we say in academia) like this, let alone one of this quality -- building the thing would be hard enough, without having to confront writing a book about it too. They're lucky they had you on board to help with that!

  3. Indeed Brett, thanks. I think our two highly-skilled RAAF aero-engineering officers have an all new appreciation of what goes into a book!

  4. Chris Williams

    Nice looking book.
    Brett, JDK or anyone else, do you know if the Boxkite's going to be in the air in Victoria or NSW in July /August this year? I'm making a rare visit to your side of the world, and it would be a shame to miss it.

  5. Chris, No I don't know, and the current situation is in 'test review' phase. It's also important to note that it has done what it was set to do, which was fly on the centenary.

    I'll try and share what comes next when I can, of course. I very much doubt the Boxkite will leave Point Cook, unless there's a very good reason to do so, such as another major anniversary.

    Most importantly, delighted to hear you're coming out, do keep us in touch with dates, it would be great to meet up!

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