Tag Archives: Sir Hudson Fysh KBE DFC

16 November 1920

Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services, Ltd., first airplane, an Avro 504K, G-AUBG. (Qantas)
Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services, Ltd., first airplane, an Avro 504K, G-AUBG. (Qantas)

16 November 1920: Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services, Ltd., today known as Qantas, is one of the oldest airlines in the world. It was founded at Winton, Queensland, Australia, on 16 November 1920 as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited by Paul Joseph McGinness, D.F.C., D.C.M., and Wilmot Hudson Fysh, D.F.C., both World War I fighter aces; Fergus McMaster, a local businessman; and Wilfred Arthur Baird, an aircraft mechanic who had served in Egypt with McGinness and Fysh.

Initially the airline operated air mail services which were subsidized by the Australian government, linking railheads in western Queensland. It flew its first commercial passenger, Alexander Kennedy, on 2 November 1922.

The airline’s first airplane was a two-place, single-engine A. V. Roe & Co., Ltd., Avro 504, c/n D1, G-AUBG. D1 was one of nine Avro 504-series airplanes which were assembled by the Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company, A. V. Roe’s licensee at Sydney, New South Wales. A replica of the airplane is on display at the Kingsford Smith Memorial, Mascot, New South Wales.

Qantas took delivery of D1 on 30 January 1921. It was assigned a registration mark of G-AUBG, 28 June 1921. The airplane was involved in a serious accident at Ingham, North Queensland, 2 August 1921. It was repaired and returned to service three months later.

Qantas operated it until 6 November 1926, when it was sold to H.J. Taylor, of Hawthorn, Victoria. The airplane was later owned by Matthews Aviation, and finally, by Newcastle Air Service, as Newcastle’s Own. The Avro’s registration was changed to VH-UBG, 28 March 1929. The registration was cancelled 14 April 1932.

Between 1913 and 1932, nearly 9,000 Avro 504-series airplanes were built by more than twenty manufacturers. The Avro 504K was 29 feet, 5 inches (8.996 meters) long with a wingspan of 36 feet (10.973 meters) and height of 10 feet, 5 inches (3.175 meters). Its empty weight was 1,231 pounds (558 kilograms) and the maximum takeoff weight was 1,829 pounds (830 kilograms).

The Avro 504 had been designed to accept installation of several different engines. D1 had been assembled using a water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 8.822 liter (538.351 cubic inches) Sunbeam-Coatalen Aircraft Engines Dyak single overhead camshaft (SOHC) inline 6-cylinder engine. (Sunbeam named its aircraft engines after ethnic groups. The Dyak are an indigenous people of Borneo.) The Sunbeam Dyak was a left-hand tractor, direct-drive engine with two valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 5:1. It used two Claudel-Hobson B.Z.S. 38 updraft carburetors, two magnetos, and was rated at 100 horsepower at 1,200 r.p.m. The Dyak weighed 399 pounds (190 kilograms).

In 1931, the Avro was re-engined with a right-hand tractor, water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 9.005 liter (549.519 cubic inches) A.D.C. (Aircraft Disposal Company, or “Airdisco”) overhead valve (OHV) V-8 engine. The A.D.C. V-8 had a compression ratio of 4.6:1 and was rated at rated at 120 horsepower at 1,800 r.p.m. It had 2:1 propeller gear reduction.

Queensland & Northern Terrory Aerial Services’ Avro 504, G-AUBG, at Isisford, Queensland, Australia, circa 1921. Museums Victoria Collections MM 952)

The 504K had a cruise speed of 75 miles per hour (121 kilometers per hour), maximum speed of 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), service ceiling of 16,000 feet (4,877 meters) and range of 250 miles (402 kilometers).

As of October 2017, Qantas had 29,596 employees. After-tax profit for 2016 was A$1,029,000,000. Qantas currently operates a fleet of 118 aircraft, which includes 28 Airbus A330s and 12 A380s, 10 Boeing 747-400s, 67 B737-800s and 1 787-9. The airline has 45 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on order, with confirmed delivery dates for the first 15.

Qantas’ first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, VH-ZNA, arrived at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD), 20 October 2017. (James Morgan/Qantas, via Australian Aviation)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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2 November 1922

Qantas' first passenger, Alexander Kennedy, at Longreach, Queensland, Australia, 2 November 1922. (Qantas)
Qantas’ first passenger, Alexander Kennedy, at Longreach, Queensland, Australia, 2 November 1922. (Qantas)

2 November 1922: The first scheduled airline passenger to fly aboard the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited was Alexander Kennedy. The pilot was Hudson Fysh (later, Sir Hudson Fysh, KBE, DFC). The engineer was W. Arthur Baird. The trip was from Longreach to Cloncurry, Queensland, Australia.

The Queensland and Northern Territory Aersial Service Ltd. office at Longreach. (Hudson Fysh/State Library of new South Wales)

Qantas’ web site describes the event:

An 84-year-old outback pioneer named Alexander Kennedy became the first Qantas passenger on a scheduled flight. He had agreed to subscribe some cash and join the provisional board provided he got ticket No.1. His flight, on 2 November 1922, was on the Longreach-Winton-McKinlay-Cloncurry section of the inaugural mail service from Charleville to Cloncurry.

Alexander Kennedy's airline ticket, Number 1. (Qantas)
Alexander Kennedy’s airline ticket, Number 1. (Qantas)

Hudson Fysh recalled the event in his book, Qantas Rising, “The Armstrong Whitworth was wheeled out of the hangar at the first streak of dawn, many willing hands helping to push her to the then uneven surface of the stony ‘tarmac’. The 160hp Beardmore engine sprang to life after Baird and his helpers had given the propeller a few turns, and flickering flames jetted from the exhaust stubs.

“I climbed into the cockpit and ran the engine up. Yes, she gave her full revs and all was in readiness. Kennedy climbed in, brushing off assistance as he groped for the foot-niches in the side of the fuselage, and then he was settled with safety belt adjusted. Baird was aboard too. The chocks were pulled away from the wheels, and out we taxied to the far corner of the aerodrome.

“The wind was light and fitful, coming from the north-east in warm puffs. It was going to be a scorching western day. When I opened up the throttle with a roar we gathered motion, careering towards the far fence, but we did not seem to be getting the usual lift, the revs were down a shade, and the old AW refused to come unstuck. I shut off and taxied back for another try.

“After three attempts with the same result I taxied back to the hangar again and running up the engine found that we were 50 revs down, just enough to make the difference. The other machine, old G-AUDE, which the day before had opened the service with McGinness, was hastily got out, our load transferred, and we were out for another try.

“No doubt about it this time as we rose in the morning air and headed over the still sleeping town for Winton, our first stop, 35 minutes late on our departure time.”Qantas

Queensland and Northern Territory Air Service, Ltd., Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 G-AUDE. (John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)
Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, Ltd., Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 G-AUDE. (John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)

The Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 was a World War I-era general purpose biplane which had been designed by Dutch engineer Frederick Koolhoven. It was 32 feet, 0 inches (9.754 meters) long, with a wingspan of 43 feet, 8 inches (13.310 meters) and height of 10 feet, 10 inches (3.302 meters). It had an empty weight of 870 kilograms (1.,918 pounds) and maximum takeoff weight of 1,275 kilograms (2,811 pounds).

The F.K.8 was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated 16.629 liter (1,014.74-cubic-inch-displacement) Beardmore Aero Engine, Ltd., 160-h.p. inline six-cylinder engine with a compression ratio of 4.76:1. Although the engine was identified as “160 h.p.”, it produced 174 horsepower at 1,250 r.p.m., and during a maximum power test, 208 horsepower. The engine weighed 620 pounds (281.2 kilograms).

The F.K.8 had maximum speed of 95 miles per hour (153 kilometers per hour) and a service ceiling of 13,000 feet (3,960 meters). Qantas operated three of these biplanes, G-AUCF, G-AUCS and G-AUDE.

Qantas’ Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8, G-AUDE, c/n 69, was formerly Royal Air Force F4231. The airplane had been purchased as surplus equipment by Simpson, Tregilles Aircraft and Transport, Ltd., Perth, Western Australia, and was first registered 28 June 1921. It was sold to Quantas in 5 September 1922. The airplane was damaged beyond economical repair in a forced landing near Blackall, Queensland, 13 September 1923. The pilot was not injured. The airplane was dismantled and later burned.

The Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited's Armstrong Whitworth FK8 at Longreach, Queensland, Australia, 2 November 1922. Alexander Kennedy, the first scheduled passenger, is third from the right. (National Library of Australia)
The Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited’s Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 at Longreach, Queensland, Australia, 2 November 1922. Alexander Kennedy, the first scheduled passenger, is third from the right. (National Library of Australia)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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