Young Pilot Made Australian Aviation History

For a brief period in the 1900s, New Zealander JJ Hammond gave a small Australian suburb in Melbourne a significant place in the annals of aviation history.

Hammond, a young man with a passion for flying machines, came to the then rural Altona in 1911 with his Bristol Boxkite biplane, as the base for a series of thrilling airborne endeavours.

In his first feat, in February 1911, Hammond took off from Altona, and landed in Geelong 55 minutes later.

In doing so, he completed the first town-to-town flight in Australia.

Three days later, the 20-year-old adventurer, described in a newspaper article at the time as “a tall, clean-shaven, athletic-looking man, with fearless eyes”, undertook the first powered passenger flight in Australia, taking his ever-obliging wife on a 12-minute journey in the skies above Melbourne – three years after the Wright brothers completed the same feat.

Originally a farmer before the flying bug took hold, Hammond kept his biplane “under a tent” in Pier St and legend has it his first flight was delayed after the plane hit a cow during takeoff.

Joseph Joel “Joe” Hammond was born in New Zealand in 1886, flew with the RFC in WWI. He was killed in a flying accident in 1918 in the United States.

Original article by Tamara Heath, Hobsons Bay Leader, July 13, 2014.

Photo from the collections of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Tags: Altona  Bristol Boxkite biplane  Herald Sun  Hobsons Bay Leader  Joseph Joel “Joe” Hammond  Melbourne  WWI  

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