Parramatta’s Flying Dentist - Celebrating the 110th anniversary of William Ewart Hart's pioneering flight from Penrith to Parramatta
3 November 2021 marks the 110th Anniversary of a pioneering flight from Penrith to Parramatta Park in 1911. The pilot was Australian aviator and dentist, William Ewart Hart, known as “Billy”. He is considered a local hero of Parramatta.
Billy’s journey to Parramatta Park began at 6:30 in the morning, when Billy set out from Belmore Park in Penrith in his Bristol Boxkite plane, to have breakfast with his father who lived near Parramatta Park in Wentworth Street. Billy Navigated his way along the railway line, flying a distance of 19 miles or about 30.6 kilometres. He was accompanied by his younger brother Jack, aged 16, who was very frightened during the flight and never wanted to fly again afterwards.
Billy and Jack landed in Parramatta Park at the Cattle Paddock. A crowd rushed out in great surprise and excitement at the spectacle. After breakfast, Billy returned solo to Penrith without Jack. Billy Hart’s flight made headlines around Australia and was the first recorded cross-country flight in New South Wales.
The pioneer of powered flight is memorialised with a plaque in Parramatta Park that was erected in 1963, honouring his achievements in aviation. It is located next to the Cattle Paddock near where Billy landed on the Penrith to Parramatta flight. Two signs that sit beside the plaque were added in recent years, with further information and some corrections.
This video and web page were created for the anniversary by university student Edward Lawn, during an internship at the Parramatta Heritage & Visitor Information Centre. The story of Billy Hart’s flight and his significance in Australia’s early aviation history is told through historic photographs and newspaper advertisements, sourced from the collections of several cultural institutions. Edward researched and wrote the narration. He digitally enhanced the historic photographs using Adobe Photoshop, and turned some images into animated sequences with motion graphics techniques using Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects to help bring the story to life.
- Airscape Magazine. (2021). Pilot No.1 William Ewart Hart. Retrieved August 2021, from https://airscapemag.com/2021/07/01/pilot-no-1/
- Edwards, G. L. (2015). William Ewart Hart an aviator's life discovered in a scrapbook. [Carlingford, N.S.W.]
- Evening News, Sydney. (1911, November 3). From Penrith to Parramatta: Bird man’s first flight. Retrieved August 2021, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/115281619?searchTerm=william%20hart
- Isaacs, K. (2006). Hart, William Ewart (Bill) (1885–1943). Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved July 2021, from https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hart-william-ewart-bill-6592/text11347
- Monument Australia. (2021). William Ewart Hart. Retrieved July 2021, from https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/aviation/display/22738-william-ewart-hart
Edward Lawn, Research & Collection Services Student Intern, City of Parramatta, 2021