For Coff’s Harbour resident and Australian Air Force Cadet Sergeant, Beau MaAuley (16), flying is in the blood.
On Sunday March 2, 100 years from the flight of the Bristol Boxkite that inaugurated military aviation in Australia, Beau and his family looked on in awe as the Boxkite took to the skies above Point Cook again.
The Boxkite pilot in 1914 was Beau’s great great grandfather, Lieutenant Eric Harrison, a mechanic from Castlemaine who went on to train Australia’s First World War aces.
Three generations of the Harrison family, his granddaughter, Mrs Helen Bryant and her partner, Rex Palmer, LT Harrison’s great granddaughter, Ms Anna McAuley and his great great gradson, Beau, received the red carpet treatment at the Centenary of Military Aviation Air Show at Point Cook in March.
Not only did Beau man the Boxkite cockpit, the family also met the Governor General, Her Excellency The Honorable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Chief of Defence Force, General David Hurley AC DSC, Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown AO and former Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Angus Houston (retired).
Beau received a rare opportunity to discuss the Boxkite’s handling with test pilot Air Vice Marshal Mark Skidmore (retired).
“It was an amazing chance to meet so many people and to learn about air force history,” Beau said.
“Everyone I met was just so nice and AVM Skidmore was able to tell me what it was like to fly the Boxkite.
“I want to go to ADFA and train to be a pilot like my great great grandfather,” Beau said.
“It’s been great to have Eric Harrison’s family here to see the Boxkite commemorate the start of military aviation,” AVM Skidmore said.
“Beau already has 25 flying hours up in a Jabiru which he told me is very susceptible to wind gusts – not unlike the Boxkite.
“I’m very happy to be part of the team showing the family around,” AVM Skidmore said.
In his extensive experience as a RAAF pilot, AVM Skidmore has flown the least developed as well as the most advanced air frames in the RAAF’s fleet.
In the early days if pilot training in Australia, LT Harrison and his students would hold a handkerchief out on the flight line to determine if it was safe to fly their delicate aircraft.
Boxkites were extremely dangerous to fly in winds higher than five knots.
The air show commemoration flight took place in calm weather in the early morning.
The McAuley family were among 33,000 people who attended the Centenary of Military Aviation Air Show, receiving first hand experience of the tradition, innovation and evolution that created the modern RAAF.
CSGT Beau McAuley with AVM Skidmore (retired)