Inspire : Public Works Sept Oct 2014
46 Public Works Professional September-October 2014 Point Cook Air Base was established by the federal government in 1913 as Australia’s ﬁrst military ﬂying school. It served as the training ground for many of Australia's military pilots up until the 1990s and provided a blueprint for other military aviation bases built in Australia. Military aviation in Australia dates back to 1911 when the Commonwealth Government sought 'two mechanics and aviators' to for m a military aviation corps in Australia. The two recruits from England were enlisted to ﬁnd a suitable site for a ﬂying school. Point Cook was eventually chosen for its proximity to the sea, to allow for sea planes, and proximity to the Army Headquarters in Melbourne. The 250 hectares of land, southwest of Melbourne, is located on the shores of Port Phillip Bay. MASTERPLAN Plans for the base were developed for the Minister of Defence in 1917 under the Director-General of Public Works, P.T. Owen. Funding for the project worth GB£3m was authorised the following year by the Cabinet. Commonwealth Architect John Smith Murdoch, Chief Architect, Department of Works and Railways led the planning and layout of the air base's creation. Today, the base holds the most extensive complex of military aviation buildings in Australia, representing different eras from pre-WW1 through to WW2. Murdoch's plans for the base were distinct in that they established a clear separation of functions required for military aviation. In particular, the societal hierarchy at the core of the Royal Australia Air Force (RAAF) is illustrated through the clear structure of accommodation for different ranks of ofﬁcer. A number of features introduced at Point Cook over the years also went on to become common features of subsequent air bases in Australia. The rectilinear road layout, reinforced by tree planting, became characteristic of military bases across military services. In addition, the parade ground, which was completed at Point Cook in 1930, and the Bellman Hangars from WW2, was used on bases to separate the domestic/administrative and operational areas of a base. RAAF BIRTHPLACE Air power was recognised as an important factor in WW1 and members of the Australian Flying Corp (AFC) who were based at Point Cook, ser ved in the war. Post war, Prime Minister Billy Hughes subsequently supported the idea of establishing an air force to defend the Australian coastlines and so the R AAF was created in March 1921. Point Cook Air Base is attributed as being the birthplace of the RAAF. It was also the second professional air force in the world, started only three years after the British Royal Air Force (R AF). The RAAF Museum, which is still in operation today, was established at the base in 1952 in recognition of it being the longest continuously operating military air base in Australia. ••• WHAT Point Cook Air Base RETROSPECT DOITONOUR ONLINE FORUMS: Visit goo.gl/XRfvTF to discuss this article. MORE TO ADD? Photo courtesy RAAF Museum, Point Cook Point Cook Air Base is attributed as being the birthplace of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
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