Melbourne aviation enthusiast Stephan Drury is in awe of Australia's aviation pioneers who were doing magnificent things in their flying machines only 16 years after the Wright Brothers created a sensation with humanity's first powered flight - of 12 seconds duration - in 1903.
In heavy winds yesterday Mr Drury landed at Cootamundra Aerodrome, after carefully retracing the flight of Australian pilots Henry Wrigley and Arthur Murphy from Point Cook just over 100 years ago.
Wrigley and Murphy landed in Coota on 16 November 1919 to a rousing reception by local residents.
They were on the first leg of their trip to Darwin, surveying a route for Ross and Keith Smith, who were simultaneously flying from London to Darwin - the first-ever such flight.
Wrigley and Murphy's flight from Point Cook, a distance of 560 kilometres, took four hours and five minutes and created an Australian record for the longest non-stop flight. Mr Drury covered the same distance yesterday in two hours, in his state-of-the-art single engine light plane, a US-built Cirrus SR22 which can carry up to five passengers in air-conditioned comfort. Speaking to in 14 locals who turned up to welcome him, Mr Drury said it was amazing that just 16 years after man discovered flight, they flew on their own across terrain where there's nothing, in an aircraft which was unreliable at the best of times.
"On my way here I was sitting in there thinking 'oh, it's a bit bumpy today' drinking my drink, turning the aircon on because it's a bit hot and the auto pilot because I wanted to record something.
"The conditions are so different now - four hours five minutes in an open cockpit, it's an amazing effort."
Mr Drury was greeted yesterday by 14 Coota residents, including Skye Gay with sons Angus and James, Felicity, Taleah and Jesse Manwaring, Ross Delaney, Helen and Hugh Harrison, Betti Punnet and Mark Loiterton and Larry Wordsworth.
Mr Drury took off for Narromine, where he will overnight, before retracing the 1919 flight through Queensland and the Northern Territory over the next few days.
He'll meet up with Michael Smith, who'll be flying from London to commemorate the Ross brothers' epic achievement.