Aerial Pageant

John T Collins, Aerial Pageant

A drawing by an Australian, John T. Collins, perhaps as a student exercise. Unlike in Britain, there was no dominant 'aerial pageant' here but rather many local ones, so it seems like a generic advertisement. It's dated to 1932 or 1933, but assuming the context is Australian then those would be Hawker Demons and it would be more like 1935 or 1936, when they entered RAAF service and represented the latest thing in aerial warfare down under.

Image source: State Library of Victoria.

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7 thoughts on “Aerial Pageant

  1. Stephen

    I like it!
    Flying officer Compagnonl did win the 1935 Aerial Derby of NSW in a Demon.
    This Derby started in 1920 and the last race was held in 1938. It was part of the Aerial Pagent hosted by the Australian Aero Clubs New South Wales section. The RAAF won it at least 6 times and got to keep the trophy for each year. It was called the Evening News Cup originally but it had two other sponsors in the later years, the Telegraph and Sun Newspapers.
    Some of the winning aircraft were:
    Sopwith GNU, Avro Baby (ex Hinklers record breaking machine)
    DH.37, DH.9A, Westland Wapiti, Avro Avian, Hawker Demon, Percival Gull and "The Cessna" (think it was the first Cessna in Australia, the Airmaster)
    What a time where a private competitor could beat the airforce in a race!

  2. Stephen

    All the above info comes from countless hours of trolling though the National Libarys archives of scanned newspapers. I've made a spreadsheet and linked articles to the events for reference. I've only scratched the surface and my main focus is to find the history of the trophies name and the winners.
    Did you know the 1928 NSW pageant had an estimated 120 thousand spectators?
    100k in the gates and 20k getting a free show from the perimeter. Those sort of numbers would be classed as a major event even by today's standards.
    I do recommend as a fairly accurate research tool. You do find mistakes and inaccuracys, so it's always wise to double check if at all possible.
    Another tip I can suggest is if you don't find the information your after, wait and re-search the same down the track. Articles I searched a year ago with no results have results today. It must be a huge job to scan every newspaper from every city and town.
    Regards, Stephen.

  3. Post author


    No strangers to Trove here! Thanks for your comments. As it happens I'm researching Australian air displays from the 1920s and 1930s myself (well, it's not such a big coincidence, it's why I posted this image, after all) and I agree, they were surprisingly popular affairs. As another example there were an estimated 170,000 spectators, albeit only 50,000 paying ones, at the 1938 RAAF aerial pageant at Flemington Racecourse. The paid attendance for the Melbourne Cup that year was 88,000, with a total of 100,000, of course at the same venue, though this may not include those watching from outside the ground, e.g. on Footscray Hill (though presumably an outside seat would have been more attractive for the air display than for the horse race). Another comparison would be Hendon, the last of which was held in 1937 with a crowd of 195,000 (again, I think excluding those outside the aerodrome). Given the disparity in population (e.g. London had 8.6 million in 1938, Melbourne just 1 million), the Australian crowd sizes were more than respectable.

  4. Stephen

    Hi Brett,
    If you need any information about the NSW pageant then don't hesitate to send me an email. With the smaller Pageants been run around the state it can be a bit confusing.

    I have a full page spread from a Scottish news paper touting that the 1920 mascot event was Australia's first Aerial Derby... nope!

    Trove has been a great help in finding these forgotten snippets of information. But beware of what I mentioned above. Let's just say fake news is not a recently new thing promulgated only by the internets social networks.
    That said, you do find little gems that make you smile.
    Best wishes, Stephen.

  5. Stephen

    It's been brought to my attention that the 1922 race was won by Nigel Love in an Avro 504k, not in the ex Hinkler Avro Baby. Other reports say the winning machine had the 100hp Sunbeam Dyak engine fitted. I'm yet to find a photo to confirm this. I presume there was a problem with the Baby and Love used the 504 as a backup machine.

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