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Aeroplane Seat

From the Collection of Warrnambool and District Historical Society Inc. 2 Gilles Street (south of Merri St) Warrnambool Victoria

This is a metal (galvanized iron) seat with a semi-circular base and a curved back stretching around from one end of the base to the other end. The back has a rolled metal edging on the base and the top. On the sides are two slots with a khaki-coloured cloth strap passing through the slots. This strap has a metal buckle at the end. The metal in the seat is somewhat blotched and discoloured. A luggage label is tied to one of the slots and has a name typed on it.
W 41 cm. H 32 cm.
Object Registration
basil watson, aviator, old warrnambool museum, history of warrnambool
Historical information
This is the seat from the aeroplane of Basil Watson. Photographs held by the Warrnambool and District Historical Society confirm that this was Watson’s aeroplane seat. He was a pioneer aviator who had built his own plane which was 5.5 metres long with a wingspan of 8 metres. It had a 7-cylinder 50 HP rotary Gnome engine. Basil Watson flew this aircraft to Warrnambool in January 1917, becoming the first person to fly to Warrnambool, coming from Point Cook in one hour 55 minutes – an Australian cross-country flying record at that time. Watson amazed Warrnambool crowds with his dare-devil flying, looping the loop 14 times over the Warrnambool racecourse. He also brought with him the first aerial post to arrive in Warrnambool and the Warrnambool and District Historical Society has the letter he brought written by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne to the Mayor of Warrnambool. Two months after he was in Warrnambool Basil Watson was killed when his plane crashed near Point Cook in March 1917. Parts of the plane were salvaged and the seat was donated to the old Warrnambool Museum in 1918. It remained there until the museum was dismantled in the early 1960s and it was later passed over to the Warrnambool and District Historical Society. The tag on the seat today is an old Warrnambool Museum label.
When Made
C 1916
Made By
Basil Watson (Maker)
This is a most significant item as it is the original seat from the aeroplane of Basil Watson, an important early aviator in Australia’s history and it is also an early 20th century memento of the many treasures from the old Warrnambool Museum (1883-1963). The seat shows the primitive nature of early 20th century aeroplanes in Australia.
Inscriptions & Markings
Mr Watson
Last updated
1 Aug 2019 at 2:24PM