Robbins and Porter: Celebrating aviation history

18 July 2013

In 1913 two Albury mechanics embarked on an ambitious quest to fly. 100 years later, we celebrate their historic achievement.

The Robbins and Porter exhibition will open at the LibraryMuseum on Saturday 27 July, exactly 100 years after two ambitious Albury mechanics designed and flew Australia’s fist flat-four powered monoplane.

In 1911, local mechanics Azor Robbins and Alexander Porter embarked on a bold plan to build their own monoplane. Spurred on by the world’s new fascination for flight, the young mechanics set up shop in Albury and began work. Their project sparked much local interest, and before long Robbins and Porter and their ‘ship of the air’ were the talk of the town.

By 1913, Robbins and Porter had designed and engineered a new engine powerful enough to sustain flight. On 27 July they took the plane to Bungowannah Park Estate for trials and in front of six witnesses managed to fly for six metres. Mechanical faults would ground the plane and hamper future efforts of flight but to this day Robbins and Porter are credited with designing and building Australia’s first monoplane fitted with a flat-four aero engine, and the only one that has ever flown.

The Albury and District Historical Society with the support of the Albury Manual Activity Centre is currently constructing a life-size replica of the Robbins and Porter monoplane which will be hung from the ceiling of the LibraryMuseum. A collection of artefacts and memorabilia – including the original flat-four engine – will be on show, while kids can enjoy a simulation of the original Robbins and Porter flight.

AlburyCity’s Museum and Social History Coordinator Bridget Guthrie said the exhibition captured the essence of Robbins and Porter’s daring quest for flight.

“The LibraryMuseum is built on the site of the original Robbins and Porter garage so it’s a truly historic exhibition in many different ways,” she said. “Robbins and Porter were ambitious young men and what they achieved in a small garage in Albury was quite remarkable.”

“The exhibition has been a fantastic collaborative effort. Numerous community organisation from across the community have been constructing the plane based on information and research from the Historical Society. It’s come together so well and the results are going to be spectacular.”

Robbins and Porter will be officially opened at the Albury LibraryMuseum at 11am on Saturday 27 July.