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Basil Watson

Portrait of a young man wearing a white shirt, tie and suit with arms folded across his chest
Basil Watson, 1917. State Library of Victoria


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.

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