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Figure 1: A close up of the Dutch air liner "Uiver", piloted by Chevaliers Parmentier and Moll.

WHY IS ALBURY SO
OBSESSED WITH
AN AIR PLANE?
The Uiver as an iconic piece of
history

Thomas Middleton
La Trobe University
Making History
Public History Project
The Uiver incident impacted the people of Albury
Figure 2: Landing of the KLM Douglas "Uiver" at Albury Racecourse - Albury, NSW

and set a plane as the iconic symbol of the town


of Albury’s heroism. But, why?

The Uiver is one of Albury’s most significant historical events of the 20th

An incident took place on


century. The Uiver was a state of the art aircraft that took part in the 1934
London to Melbourne air race.

October 23rd, 1934 that demonstrated the


people of Albury had the ability to unite and save
an aircraft lost in the skies of rural Australia.
With their current knowledge of modern technology and quick
thinking, the Uiver earnt its place in local history. With dedicated
space in the local museum and named café at the since established
Albury airport. The people of Albury look back fondly and tell the story
of the iconic day in which they saved the Uiver lost in flight on its way
to Melbourne.
Why is the Uiver significant as a status symbol? and how has its

The London to Melbourne


perception changed throughout the years to our contemporary
understanding of the event?

air race coincided with growing reliance on


technology and interest in modernity and
mobility. Modernity being new ways of thinking that included
the growing reliance and interest in technology. This new capacity
for mobility also intersected a growing interest and ability amongst
Australians to purchase cars and to travel by plane.

Figure 3: Photograph of a 1925 Motor Car.


Australians continued to have a interest in modernity and mobility
throughout the 20th century. Australia is a Euro centric settler
colony with ties to the western world formed an interest in travel
and technology. The term “fin de siècle” (developing of the new and
the old intermixing and developing together) was the state of
Australia and referred to as the second industrial revolution of the
time.[1] Australia’s reliance and interest in technology was due to the
following advancements as described by Hearn, “extraordinary
technological advances including wireless telegraphy, the X-ray and
cinematography, the motor car. The excitement of the new was also
cast against anxiety at the intensifying pace of urban life, and a fear
of biological degeneration.”[2]
The London to Melbourne air race in 1934 and the aircraft known as
the Uiver reflect such interest and excitement. As the race’s main
attractions were the speed and technological ability of the
participating aircrafts. The race caught the attention of the world and
of Australia, due to the interest of advancing technology and ability of
humanity at the time. This is the defining factor of the aircraft’s iconic
status amongst the people of Albury. Flight and aircraft technology
had been developing at a rapid rate and would continue to expand
into the coming century.

The race itself started in Mildenhall; London on the 20th of October 1934

The race gained significant attention from radio


and involved more than 20 aircraft racing to the finish in Melbourne.[3]

broadcasting, which raised the worldwide profile


of the air race. During and after the first World
War and in the approach of the second, aviation
and aircraft technology would be a defining factor
in world-wide modernity and interest in
innovation. Throughout World War one research in aviation was
competitive and important to each countries impact in the war. Each
country was competing for development in aviation technology, as
the NRC (the national research council) observed; “War should mean
research.”[4]Therefore, air travel was of significant interest to the
military effort around the world. The air race was a way to
demonstrate the current technological ability of each county and of
humanities progress in aviation ability; “pre-1939 aviation was overly
competitive and unregulated, and subject to / national interest.
Countries had used subsidies to further the interests of their national
companies, and Britain had found it difficult to compete in this arena.
Internationalization, it was believed, would alleviate the problem.”[5]
Figure 4: Family in their living room listening to a radio broadcast, New South Wales, ca. 1930.
the ability of the aircraft's in competition were a draw for international
significance of competing nations and also peeked the curiosity of the
public. This was an achievement in developing technology as the
technology in the DC-2 (Uiver) was essential for the development of
the DC-3 and other military aircraft moving into the second World
War.[6]Making the Uiver important because of its ability within the air
An incident unfolded which called upon the
race.

people of Albury who were listening to the radio


broadcast of the event. So, with their ingenuity
and their knowledge they used their resources
and modern technology of the town to devise a
plan to communicate and save the aircraft lost in
an electrical storm on its flight path to
Melbourne.[7]
Figure 5: Preparing to take KLM Douglas "Uiver" out of the mud at Albury Racecourse

Four men of Albury with an interest in technology each played a


part in saving the aircraft. They rushed to the electrical station to
communicate to the aircraft by flashing the town lights on and off
in Morse code. Then, they interrupted the radio broadcast and told
the people of Albury-Wodonga to amass at the Albury racecourse
and create an illuminated runway with their cars.[8] The
townspeople’s ability to use the radio signal and modern cars
demonstrates the impact of technology and the growing influence
of modernity in rural Australia.

The Uiver became an image of modernity to the


people of Albury representing their ability to
harness technology for the good of humanity.
The incident and the race also gave Albury a chance to interact and
be recognized in a worldwide setting. The landing of the Uiver
marked the beginning of a relationship with the Dutch and their
pilots and established Albury as more than just a country town.
James Kightly an aviation writer and publisher wrote about
Albury’s involvement in the race, “while those Dutch-Albury
connections were being forged on the ground, observers around
the world were noting that KLM had set the standard, both in
predictable airline flying.”[9]Albury did more than just save the
Uiver, they helped establish the DC-2 aircraft’s ability and speed by
finishing the race. The town of Albury was also recognized and
respected by the people of the Netherlands for coming to the
rescue of their pilots and people aboard the aircraft. The
Netherlands created several awards and erected plaques in Albury
to commemorate the relationship between Albury and the Dutch.
The landing of the Uiver is significant because of the international
effect it had on the small town in rural Australia.

Ever since the landing of the Uiver in Albury,


the Uiver has become a symbol of the town
itself. With various kinds of monuments
erected and memorabilia since the incident
such as; stamps, badges and postcards.[10]
As well as a permanent display in the local
museum and café opened within the newly
established Albury airport.
The café commemorates the memory and heroism of the
citizens of Albury. Modernity of the past, now existing within the
space of a modern airport. Artwork has been erected in the café
and the description of the art is as followed “Mural artist, Marc
Spijkerbosch, was commissioned to create a tribute to the Uiver,
celebrating the 75th anniversary of its emergency landing and
ensuring that this fascinating local story would not be
lost.”[11]Depicted in the mural are the noteworthy and modern
people of Albury whom intervened and helped save the aircraft
as well as the pilots of the Dutch airliner.
Figure 6: Volunteers and board members inside the DC-2

Moving into the present, Albury now has a


fixation with restoring the Uiver and a full-size
recreation is taking place.
The actual Uiver aircraft was destroyed less than two months after the
incident in 1934, crashing in the Syrian Desert in Iraq.[12] The
recreation effort has therefore focused on resoration of an Australian
owned DC-2 purchased in 1941 by the Australian government.[13]Now
with help from volunteers and help by the local community this
identical DC-2 is being recreated as a modern day Uiver.[14] The Uiver
and the DC-2 is a symbol of modernity and community to this day,
like it was on the night of October 23rd, 1934 when the community of
Albury banded together with their cars and their labour to drag the
Uiver out of the mud, saving the aircraft from ruin and helping it
come second in the race. This shows the determination and the
meaning that the Uiver represents to the people of Albury/Wodonga.
Modernity, mobility and the rapidly developing age of technology in
aviation made the Uiver significant in Australia and beyond. The era of
the World Wars pushed progress in technology and air travel, with the
DC-2 (Uiver) being an example of this development. The incident over
the Albury racecourse that day in 1934 showed the ingenuity of the
people of Albury, to harness the capacity of technology through
modern cars and radio broadcasting. The Uiver is also iconic to Albury
because of the worldwide status the event holds for Albury as a rural
town.

This contact with the Uiver bridged the cultural


and spatial gap for the people of Albury, creating
a connection with the people of The Netherlands.
Through the Uiver Albury earned a place in a
worldwide setting. It has become a status of the community
and the history of Albury’s willingness to come together. To help
others with their knowledge and goodwill. The Uiver will forever be
significant in the eyes of the people living on the border as a symbol
of what can be done with determination and quickthinking.
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[1] Mark Hearn, 'The benefits of industrial organisation'? The second Fisher government and Fin de Siecle modernity in
Australia’, Labour History, 102 (2012), 38.
[2] Ibid
[3] Noel Jackling and Doug Royal, ‘Drama at the Albury racecourse 1934: The international airliner KLM Royal Dutch
Airlines Douglas DC-2 'Uiver'’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 102/1 (2016), 45.
[4] Michael Eckert, ‘Strategic Internationalism and the Transfer of Technical Knowledge: The United States, Germany, and
Aerodynamics after World War I’, Technology and Culture, 46/1 (2005), 107.
[5] David Devereux, ‘British Planning for Postwar Civil Aviation 1942-1945’, Twentieth Century British History, 2/1 (1991), 29.
[6] Noel Jackling and Doug Royal, ‘Drama at the Albury racecourse 1934: The international airliner KLM Royal Dutch
Airlines Douglas DC-2 'Uiver'’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 102/1 (2016), 70.
[7] Noel Jackling and Doug Royal, ‘Drama at the Albury racecourse 1934: The international airliner KLM Royal Dutch
Airlines Douglas DC-2 'Uiver'’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 102/1 (2016), 45.
[8] Ibid 46.
[9] James Kightly, ‘Opinion on the historical significance of the DC2’ [written interview] (ABC, 2007),
<http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2007/11/02/2080409.htm>, accessed 31 Oct. 2018.
[10] LibraryMuseum: AlburyCity Collections: ARM 09.560.01, ARM 13.994.02.
[11] LibraryMuseum: AlburyCity Collections: UPA PA.10.30.
[12] Jackling, Noel, and Royal, Doug, ‘Drama at the Albury racecourse 1934: The international airliner KLM Royal Dutch
Airlines Douglas DC-2 'Uiver'’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 102/1 (2016), 65.
[13] ‘With Eastern Airlines’, Uiver memorial DC-2 restoration project [website] <http://www.uivermemorial.org.au> para. 5,
accessed 31 October. 2018.
[14] ‘Uiver memorial community trust’, Uiver memorial DC-2 restoration project [website]
<http://www.uivermemorial.org.au/Eastern_Airlines.html> para. 4, accessed 31 October. 2018.
Bibliography
 
Devereux, David, ‘British Planning for Postwar Civil Aviation 1942-1945’, Twentieth Century British
History, 2/1 (1991), 26-46.
 
Eckert, Michael, ‘Strategic Internationalism and the Transfer of Technical Knowledge: The United
States, Germany, and Aerodynamics after World War I’, Technology and Culture, 46/1 (2005), 104-
131.
 
Jackling, Noel, and Royal, Doug, ‘Drama at the Albury racecourse 1934: The international airliner
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Douglas DC-2 'Uiver'’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society,
102/1 (2016), 45-70.
 
Kightly, James, ‘Opinion on the historical significance of the DC2’ [written interview] (ABC, 2007),
<http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2007/11/02/2080409.htm>, accessed 31 Oct. 2018.
 
Hearn, Mark, 'The benefits of industrial organisation'? The second Fisher government and Fin de
Siecle modernity in Australia’, Labour History, 102 (2012), 37-55.
 
LibraryMuseum: AlburyCity collections, (Object) ARM 09.560.01 (Albury, NSW, Australia).
 
LibraryMuseum: AlburyCity collections, (Object) ARM 13.994.02 (Albury, NSW, Australia).
 
LibraryMuseum: AlburyCity collections, (Public Art) UPA PA.10.30 (Albury, NSW, Australia).
 
‘Uiver memorial community trust’, Uiver memorial DC-2 restoration project [website]
<http://www.uivermemorial.org.au/Eastern_Airlines.html> para. 4, accessed 31 October. 2018.
 
‘With Eastern Airlines’, Uiver memorial DC-2 restoration project [website]
<http://www.uivermemorial.org.au> para. 5, accessed 31 October. 2018.
 
Images
 
Figure 1: Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) (1934). A close up of the Dutch air liner "Uiver", piloted by
Chevaliers Parmentier and Moll.
 
Figure 2: (Albury, Nsw.) (1934), Landing of the KLM Douglas "Uiver" PH-AJU of Parmentier and Moll
at Albury Racecourse.
 
Figure 3: (1925), Photograph of a Motor Car.

Figure 4: (Nsw) (1930) Family in their living room listening to a radio broadcast
 
Figure 5: (Albury, Nsw.) (1934), Preparing to take KLM Douglas "Uiver" PH-AJU of Parmentier and Moll
out of the mud at Albury Racecourse

Figure 6: 'Uiver memorial community trust' [Internet] (Albury, Nsw.) (22nd October 2016),
Facebook page; Volunteers and board members inside the DC-2

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