Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hinkler Hall of Aviation - The story of Bert Hinkler

Set in the beautiful scenery of the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens is Hinkler Hall of Aviation, and brings to life the adventures of famous solo aviator, Herbert John Louis Hinkler, or more commonly known as Bert Hinkler.

Born in Bundaberg in December 1892, Bert Hinkler enjoyed a passion for aviation which ultimately led him to design and build early aircraft before becoming the first aviator to not only fly solo from England to Australia, but the first person to fly solo across the Southern Atlantic Ocean.  

In 1913, Bert travelled to England where he began his aviation career with the Sopwith Aviation Company however served with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) as a Gunner / Observer in Belgium and France during World World I, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

In 1918, Bert was posted to No.28 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF) where he served as a pilot in Italy. 

After the war, Bert served as a test pilot for A.V. Roe in Southhampton before shipping an Avro Baby to Sydney and later flying the aircraft non-stop to his hometown of Bundaberg.

It was during the 1920's when Bert Hinkler began setting records while competing in numerous aviation events, and with this came increased media attention and growing popularity.

Among notable achievements by Bert was the first solo flight by a person from England to Australia in 1928. Departing from England aboard Avro Avian G-EBOV on 07 February, Bert touched-down in Darwin on 22 February and eventually back at Bundaberg on 27 February, thus reducing the England - Australia record from 28 days to 15 days. 

Another remarkable achievement came in 1931 when Bert flew a de Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth non-stop from Canada to New York before continuing non-stop to Jamaica. From here, Bert's adventure then took him to Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil and across the South Atlantic to Africa. Because of bad weather, strong winds and poor visibility, Bert drifted off course but managed to regain his bearings before continuing from West Africa to London.

Marrying in 1932 at the age of 39, Bert Hinkler unfortunately perished less than a year later in January 1933 after crashing into the Tuscan Mountains near Florence, Italy while attempting another record flight from England to Australia, but this time in the Puss Moth. The record at the time was held by C.W.A Scott of 8 days / 20 hrs.  

Located adjacent to the Hinkler Hall of Aviation which was opened to the public in 2008, is Hinkler House, reportedly the home that Bert Hinkler and his wife Hannah (Nance) Jarvis built in Thornhill, England and was saved from demolition for relocation to the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.

If you would like to relive the adventures of solo aviator Bert Hinkler, the Hinkler Hall of Aviation is a must see when visiting Bundaberg and open 7 days per week from 9.00am to 4.00pm.

Alternatively, more information can be obtained by visiting their website at :