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Portrait of a man. - click to view larger image
Basil Watson, 1917


Basil Watson worked at the Sopwith Aviation Company in England from 1914 to 1916. He returned to Melbourne when injuries sustained in a crash landing ended his dreams of joining the Royal Flying Corps.

Using the Sopwith design, Watson constructed a single-seat biplane in the billiard room of his parents’ house. On 9 December 1916 he flew from Point Cook to Bendigo in a remarkable 80 minutes.

He gave demonstrations across Victoria and enthralled onlookers with nosedives and loop-the-loops. Watson was killed in 1917 when a wing of his plane buckled and he crashed into Port Phillip Bay.


Basil Watson in his partially completed aeroplane, 1916. State Library of Victoria


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