On 16 July 1910,  John Robertson Duigan  flew an aircraft (a seven metre hop) at his family’s Mia Mia property, near Kyneton,  Victoria, Australia. This is acknowledged as the first powered, controlled flight of an all-Australian designed and  built aeroplane which occurred less  than seven years after the Wright Brothers’  ‘Flyer’ lifted off at Kittyhawk, North Carolina. In the five countries where powered flights were  achieved, considerable technical resources were  available. Yet John accomplished the flight with little outside help other  than several books, the magazine Aero and  the engineering skills of his younger brother, Reginald Charles – making John’s effort extremely remarkable. After attending BGS,  John went to study  electrical engineering at Finsbury College in London. He also qualified  in motor engineering and  driving at Battersea Polytechnical College and  then  worked  for the Wakefield and  District Light Railway in Yorkshire. Returning to Australia  in 1908,  John went to live on the family property in Mia Mia. John’s experiments in aviation  dated from 1908  when  he constructed an unsuccessful kite. Next he began building a Wright-type  glider, capable of lifting two people off the ground that was  completed and  flown on a tether wire in 1909. Before  September 1909,  John began construction of his own design powered aircraft. Apart from the engine, which was  built by J. E. Tilly in Melbourne, the whole aircraft was made by John on the farm. His brother Reginald helped assemble the aircraft and  John first ‘flew’ in it on 16 July 1910,  hopping about 20 feet. By early October he was flying nearly  200 yards (183 metres). These were  the first flights in Australia  of a locally designed and  built aircraft. John returned to England in 1911  and  obtained a flying licence from the International Aeronautical Federation in April 1912.  In 1916  he was  commissioned as a Lieutenant in No.2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, and was appointed to command the squadron’s second flight in August.  John was  awarded the Military Cross for gallantry  in action  during WW1. He later opened his own motor engineering business in Yarrawonga. He served in the Quality Control  Branch of the Royal Australian Air Force in WW2. In 1970  the Duigan  brothers were  honoured on an Australian postage stamp. In the early 21st  century, Qantas named one  of its Airbus A380s  after John and Reginald Duigan  in recognition of the brothers’ contribution to aviation  industry.

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