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Bristol Boxkites — 100 years after the start of the Royal Australian Air Force (1 of the 700)

9 June 2014

Bristol Boxkites — 100 years after the start of the Royal Australian Air Force (1 of the 700)

Bristol Boxkites at Point Cook: Project 2014 Commemorating the Centenary of Australian Military Aviation 1914–2014, Ron Gretton AM (Group Captain RAAF ret.) Geoff Matthews (Wing Commander RAAF ret.) James Kightly, 2014, ISBN 978-0-646-91606-4, 80 pp.

Bristol Boxkites at Point Cook: Project 2014 Commemorating the Centenary of Australian Military Aviation 1914–2014 written by Ron Gretton AM (Group Captain RAAF ret.), Geoff Matthews (Wing Commander RAAF ret.) and James Kightly

Bristol Boxkites at Point Cook: Project 2014 Commemorating the Centenary of Australian Military Aviation 1914–2014 written by Ron Gretton AM (Group Captain RAAF ret.), Geoff Matthews (Wing Commander RAAF ret.) and James Kightly

This is a unique book about a unique event.

It is an elegant book about a beautiful event.

It is about the fruit of Project 2104 which is a flying replica of the Australian military’s first aircraft and to fly that replica on the centennial of Australian military aviation in March 2014.

This is the story of the Bristol Boxkite (especially the military version with extended upper wings) and how a few men with a handful of sponsors built a flying replica Boxkite (slightly modernized for the sake of safety) from the floor up.

The book is written well and the photographs are uniformly outstanding. Many are historic and many are of the replica Boxkite in flight but nicely intermixed are large images of intimate angles and details. The writing of this book is a continued act of devotion to the building of this 21st Century Boxkite and accomplished in a manner which can hardly be surpassed.

Bristol Boxkites at Point Cook opens with a forward written by Peter Scully, AO no less than a retired Air Vice-Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force — and builds upward throughout the next 100 pages.

Rare historic photographs greatly aid the description of the Bristol Boxkite history as well as modification for its military use in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) — including a pilot’s perspective of the Gnome rotary engine (which was installed as a pusher but with the propeller in front of the engine).

The book then segues into the engineering and construction of the flying replica of Project 2014. The first problem was drafting the plans, as none exist from the original, then the engineering decisions made are knowingly discussed. Why the modern Rotec R2800 modern radial engine was selected for this aircraft (modern manufacturers of Orberursel and Gnome rotary engines are named, however, such is the depth of detail in the writing), for example.

The options of using 5/32” (3.969mm), 1/16” (1.6mm), 5/64” (2.0mm) and 3/32” (2.5mm) wire gauges are described since weight and strength are always balanced with an aircraft. Similarly so is the use of which wood species and where — they are:

 

Australian alpine ash Silver ash
Sitka spruce Queensland maple
Douglas fir (also known as Oregon pine)

 

The flying of this Boxkite from the words of the pilot, Air-Vice Marshal Mark Skidmore AM (ret.), is a vivid report — as are the pages written of the major participants. Two appendices are more than complete for the use by historians, as well.

This book, with its pleasing format about twice the height of a National Geographic magazine and a bit wider, with its excellent writing and world-class photography must belong in most libraries (both public and private). There were only 700 printed though so do not tarry, especially at its surprisingly low cost — this book supports Project 2014 but is intended to be affordable to most readers (such is the ethic of those at the heart of Project 2104). Get a copy, get a copy as a gift — but get a copy before they are gone here.

Bristol Boxkites at Point Cook: Project 2014 Commemorating the Centenary of Australian Military Aviation 1914–2014 written by Ron Gretton AM (Group Captain RAAF ret.), Geoff Matthews (Wing Commander RAAF ret.) and James Kightly (backcover)

Bristol Boxkites at Point Cook: Project 2014 Commemorating the Centenary of Australian Military Aviation 1914–2014 written by Ron Gretton AM (Group Captain RAAF ret.), Geoff Matthews (Wing Commander RAAF ret.) and James Kightly (backcover)

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. shortfinals permalink
    11 June 2014 00:34

    I am stunned by the quality of this book. The coverage of the processes of research and construction of this awe-inspiring replica of an aircraft from the dawn of flying is magnificent. Well done to all concerned! As Joe said, buy yours – NOW!

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      11 June 2014 06:54

      I agree. In a world where well done books are the norm this book is extraordinary. Aviation history from a time when just flying was an endeavor, human interest as well as the DYI aspect to building an antique airplane — so much to like! It will be a gem in anyone’s library and so easy to obtain 🙂

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