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Commemorative Address:  "The Nigel Love Building"

By Mr. John G. LOVE, Nigel's son.

 On 18 June 2019, in the Centennial Year of the founding of Sydney Airport by ex-3AFC Pilot Nigel LOVE, the airport's main administrative building was renamed in his honour.

Good Afternoon

We come together today to celebrate 100 years of history and aviation leadership at Sydney Airport.

The family joins with me to express our most sincere appreciation to Chief Executive Officer Geoff CULBERT and to thank Sydney Airport for naming their Main Corporate Office “The Nigel Love Building”.

The family views this as a special centenary honour.

The naming identifies Dad as the founder of this great enterprise, when he personally selected the aerodrome in 1919, setting foot on the buffalo grass here at Mascot.  The naming of the Building is also symbolic, with the message it conveys of the vision that came to him, high above the battlefields of the Somme.

Nigel in the cockpit of his RE8 warplane, in the Somme area with 3 Squadron AFC.

My father visualised The Birth of Civil Aviation in Australia and the opportunity this presented to conquer distance and isolation and how this would eclipse time to the centre of the world.

This was the era when planes were built of canvas, wire and wood.  Flimsy contraptions, that followed Lawrence Hargrave's demonstrated theory of flight, by lifting his own weight with box kites strung together on the heights of Stanwell Park, November 1894.  What a breakthrough event this was.

Lawrence HARGRAVE and the lifting-boxkites he invented. 
- Hargrave's discoveries were later used by the Wright Brothers in America. 
[State Library of NSW PXD704.]

With WW1 coming to an end (and after fighting the “Red Baron” and his “Flying Circus” over  the Somme) my father was assigned as an instructor to the two newly-formed Australian Flying Centres in southern England.  This was six months prior to his repatriation and included ferrying aircraft to the Battlefields.  That gave him an opportunity to evaluate the latest aeroplane designs.

It was during this period that he developed a firm friendship with Harry E. BROADSMITH, fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and head aeronautical engineer with A V Roe  & Co ("AVRO" - leading aircraft manufacturer, Manchester, England).  Together they formed a partnership with Jack WARNEFORD (ex-Engineering Officer, 3 Squadron AFC) signing a three-year Exclusive Australian Agency Agreement with AVRO, that provided for:

1.    The establishment of an aerodrome in Sydney

2.    The establishment of an assembly factory in Sydney

3.    Promotion and sales of aircraft in Australia.

The Australian Flying Corps on the Western Front, of which Dad was a member, returned to Australia in June 1919 - representing an elite group of highly qualified, battle-hardened, experienced pilots who had witnessed combat in the toughest warfare conditions.  At the time, few countries had developed their hands-on flying skills to this level, during the evolutionary period of aircraft design of the War years.

I want to take you back to the days when flying was with no maps, no GPS, no wireless.  Navigation was leaning over the side of the cockpit, looking for the railway lines or rivers, with only a compass and altimeter.  It was literally flying by the seat of your pants.

These early aviators pioneered the main routes between State Capital cities and major country centres, advancing communications for our wide open country.

The leadership by Australian’s aviation pioneers was to become foremost in the world, trail-blazing international routes.

In 1919, Dad founded Australia’s first aircraft manufacturing factory at Botany Road, Mascot (The Australian Aircraft & Engineering Co.), bringing skilled tradesmen in fabrication, woodwork, assembly rigging and technicians from AVRO England.  Four Pilots and 25 skilled tradesmen were working when in full production.  An aircraft was completed every two-and-a half weeks.  The finished 504K aircraft would be wheeled out of the factory and pushed up the road and onto the airfield.

The first test flight took place 100 years ago, on 19th November 1919, with photographer Billy MARSHALL as the passenger. 

MARSHALL, sitting on one of the AVRO 504Ks assembled at Mascot.

Dad said, “I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the joystick and see our fair city of Sydney from the air."

100 years ago, the population was fascinated with the new science of flight.  Many had never seen an aircraft; few had ever flown.

A wonderful newspaper photograph, by Billy KIMBEL, of AVRO 504Ks  in July 1920.  It is very likely that Nigel was piloting one of these aircraft.  [Sunday Times, Sydney, 25 Jul 1920.]

Half the city would turn out and be enthralled with the special Air Derby days.

Barnstorming was popular in the country centres.  It was like the circus had come to town.

Joy riding was an early source of revenue for the new business.  Dad would come home with pockets bulging full of sovereigns.  12,000 pleasure flights were flown, at four guineas each for fifteen minutes.

In a few short years...1923, the Company built the first Commercial Aircraft in Australia - "B1" – flight tested and approved by the Department of Civil Aviation, for five passengers who were enclosed and seated in a comfortable cabin.

Jennifer GALL (Department of Aviation) in her 1986 book “From Bullocks to Boeings” wrote:

 “Nigel Love... launched the Australian Aircraft Industry, pioneered long distance flights throughout Eastern Australia and established Sydney’s major aerodrome.”

Since the Commonwealth Government compulsorily acquired the Airport (after the lease expired in 1923), the Mascot site has seen extraordinary growth; with control and management again reverting back to private enterprise in 2002.

Last week-end.... the Telegraph published an interesting two page spread by Ed Boyd...

Quote:  “A supersonic revolution is coming to aviation – and Sydney is poised to be at the forefront of it.”                

...The article is worth reading.

This afternoon has been a memorable one for the Family, with the occasion presenting an opportunity to more closely understand the contribution Australia made to the world, in those early founding days of aviation.  - And how a vision became a reality.  My father, who was reserved by nature, would have felt quietly honoured with the “building naming” and that his early pioneering achievements had received recognition.

I wish to thank Ted PLUMMER, Special Advisor, for his contribution and tireless effort to put the detail together.

I have spoken briefly about the early formative days and how the Airport evolved; the recently released Sydney Airport Annual Report outlines the diversity of operations, the contributions by their people and the broad dimensions of the organisation’s growth that has followed the “Founding Vision”.

Congratulations to Sydney Airport on reaching their 100 years and for their impressive Centenary of Progress and World-Class Standing.       

3 Squadron EVENTS

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