Fowler’s Hart-felt plea on naming of new airport

William Hart in his Bristol biplane at Penrith, circa 1912. Photo: State Library of NSW
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Discussion on the naming of Western Sydney Airport has continued with renewed calls for the site to reflect Penrith’s rich aviation history at last month’s Ordinary Council Meeting.

“If you look at William ‘Billy’ Hart, as far as aviation is concerned, he is the only one that Penrith can connect with,” Councillor Ross Fowler said.

“I think it’s very appropriate given what Penrith has done in support of the airport.”

While other potential names, such as James Badgery, are also being explored, Cr Fowler believes William Hart Airport soars above the other options.

While Mr Badgery was also a pioneer in aviation, a report presented at Council’s Ordinary Meeting on November 27 questioned whether his activities could be placed within the vicinity of the proposed airport site.

If Sydney can have Kingsford Smith Airport, then Cr Fowler believes that Western Sydney Airport should be named William Hart Airport.

“I think it will make a bit of a point of difference between Penrith and Sydney.When we look back at Hart, there is history through western Sydney,” he said.

“He was actually the person who started the Richmond Air Force base site.”

Mr Hart was born in Parramatta and was the first airman to qualify as a pilot in Australia, presented with Australian aviator’s first licence.

On November 18, 1911, Hart flew 76km from Penrith via St Marys to Sydney completing the first cross-country flight in New South Wales in a much celebrated 55 minutes.

In January 1912, he opened an aviation school in Penrith at Belmore Park near Thornton Hall, later transferring his operations to Ham Common, which is now the site of RAAF base Richmond.

“If not naming the airport after Hart, then something significant like a terminal or a building,” Cr Fowler said.

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