Part of a commemorative photograph album produced by Sears' Studios, Melbourne, documenting the work of Basil Watson in constructing a biplane at his family's home 'Foilacleugh' in Elsternwick, Victoria, during 1916, and the aftermath of his fatal crash off Point Cook on 28th March 1917. The biplane was based on the design of the Sopwith Pup, which Watson was familiar with from his time working as an engineer and test pilot with the Sopwith Aviation Co. and Imperial Army in Britain, during 1914-1916. Watson piloted the plane on pioneering flights to Bendigo and western Victoria. He performed many public acrobatic flying demonstrations and flew the first official airmail between Mt Gambier and Melbourne in February 1917. He was killed when a component of his aircraft failed during an aerobatic demonstration over Point Cook, Victoria, on 28th March 1917, causing the wings to collapse, plunging the aircraft into Port Phillip Bay. His death was the earliest recorded aviation fatality in Australia. His death deeply affected the Watson family, who continued to publish tribute notices in Melbourne's daily newspapers on each anniversary for over a decade.

Description of Content

Front on view of Basil Watson's completed Sopwith-type biplane on the lawn behind the Watson family home 'Foilacleugh' in Elsternwick, Victoria. Details seen in the photo include the laminated Circassian walnut propeller that was made for Watson by the timber merchants James Moore & Sons, of City Road, South Melbourne, and the seven-cylinder Gnome rotary engine behind the engine cowling. In the background part of the Watsons' extensive garden can be seen, including a hen house and chook yard and a weatherboard building that was the family's motor garage and workshops, as well as the rear of other houses on St Kilda Street, Elsternwick.

Physical Description

Horizontal landscape format rectangular gelatin silver emulsion photographic print, glued to a rectangular landscape format brown cardridge paper page, without caption.

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