Site of First Manned Flight
Altona was the site of the first manned flight (close to the existing RSL site), in 1911. The Acting Prime Minister of Australia at the time, Billy Hughes visited Altona for this event and due to the flight’s success was later to establish the first Australian Flying Corps at Point Cook.
On 6th December, 1969, a plaque commemorating the birth of Australian Aviation in Altona was unveiled outside a shop on the corner of Pier Street and Railway Street South.
In November 1910, a Frenchman (Gaston Cugnet) brought his aeroplane to Altona and made a couple of short flights. So, although Joseph J. Hammond, a New Zealander, was not the first to fly in Altona, nor in Australia, he did pave the way towards the acceptability of ‘planes.
In February and March, 1911, Hammond made many successful public demonstrations of flying, including the first cross country flight (Altona to Geelong and return) on 20th February.
The first passenger flight (J. J. Hammond’s wife) 23rd February.
First Charter, and first Australian Passenger Flight. Mr. M. H. Baillieu seated with Mr. J. J. Hammond about to take off on 2/3/1911.
Two records were made with one flight when Mr. M. H Baillieu, an Australian, paid to be taken aloft; this being the first charter flight and the first Australian passenger, 2nd March.
The first flight over Melbourne was also made by Mr. Hammond from Altona.
Soon after these flight successes, and as a result of same, Point Cook was established.