March 18, 1910 American escapologist and aviator Harry Houdini flew a heavier-than-air machine at Digger’s Rest, near Melbourne, Australia. This was probably the first such flight on the continent.
The magic of flight, he later wrote, was in the “glorious thrill” of first adventure, and “not in minor modification which is perpetual in any art”.
However, if 110 metres be considered a flight, Colin Defries should get the honour. On December 9 [qv], 1909, Defries arguably flew a powered aircraft about 110 metres at Sydney's Victoria Park racecourse.
However, at the time Defries's flight was disputed. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the aviator had successfully completed a short flight, while Sydney's Daily Telegraph said that he had not left the ground. The Aerial League insisted that a controlled flight had not occurred. In the five months before Houdini's success, Defries crashed on three attempts to be the first, including once at Digger's Rest on March 1, 1910.
On the day before Houdini's great successful attempt, Fred Custance allegedly made a short flight in South Australia in an imported Bleriot aircraft, with a "very rough landing", but the claim has long been disputed.
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