Diggers Rest gears up for Houdini celebrations

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Postby JohnCox » 12/12/09 11:26 AM

A new roadside billboard has gone up near the entrance to Diggers Rest, Australia, as part of the preparations for a massive celebration commemorating Houdinis first flight on that continent 100 years ago.

Full story:
http://www.houdini-lives.com/Houdini_Li ... tions.html
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Postby JohnCox » 12/12/09 03:14 PM

Follow up: Diggers Rest has launched what appears to be a sincere attempt to find Houdini's long lost Voison biplane. Any Genii/Houdini experts able to contribute a clue or two?

http://www.houdini-lives.com/Houdini_Li ... plane.html
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Postby Tim Ellis » 12/14/09 05:02 PM

We were approached to consult on this event last year. Unfortunately, 6 months later, the whole organising team had been replaced by council people who insisted we have circus workshops for the kids in order to fulfill community event guidelines.

Since then the local Lions Club have gotten involved and seem to be putting things back on track. They even taken our advice and hired Cosentino to perform an escape for them.
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Postby Tim Ellis » 12/14/09 05:02 PM

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Postby houdini's ghost » 12/24/09 02:09 PM

If you will check the texts of all of the books you might have on Houdini written prior to 1980, there is one date given for Houdini's historic first airplane flight on the continent of Australia. That date is March 16, 1910. That is the date that is given in the various editions of Houdini's Adventurous Life of a Versatile Artist, the Kellock, Gresham, and Christopher biographies of Houdini and every article which touched on the subject. March 16. The October 1942 Genii magazine has a whole section of contemporary Australian newspaper clippings. The date for Houdini's first flight is March 16. In some cases, the newspaper articles have been doctored to read March 16.
In the 80s, several people discovered that the first flight in Australia by Houdini was actually made on March 18. When Manny Weltman visited the library at the University of Texas at Austin, he observed that the famous plaque which Houdini was awarded identified the historic date as March 18. As Weltman looked into the matter he discovered that Houdini hadn't inadvertently changed the date, he had a reason. Weltman and some others including Alfred Hayes discovered that there was a claim to an earlier flight by a man named Fred Custance. A newspaper of the time that carried the news of Houdini's successful flight at Diggers Rest also carried an account of a successful flight in a Bleriot monoplane by Custance in the early morning hours of March 17 at Bolivar near Adelaide.
The evidence is pretty clear, that Houdini knew about the Custance flight, which according to the news article occurred in the predawn, in pitch darkness, in front of a few neighbors who heard the engine and out of curiosity came to the field. Fred Custance, according to the article, made three circuits of a field, by following a fence which he could barely see. As it began to get light, he tried a second flight, but, crashed, badly damaging the plane and injuring himself. Frederick H. Jones was the owner of the plane and the source of the news account.
An effort was made to secure for Fred Custance the place in history he deserved. That effort has culminated in the following: there was only one witness to what was almost certainly a single attempt at flight by Custance in the Bleriot on March 17, 1910, and that was his sponsor, Jones. No neighbors, no eyewitnesses. Jones, who later referred to the "first flight" as "mythical," made it all up.

When Houdini was on his deathbed, he told the surgeon who had operated on him that he wished he had become a doctor. The doctor, Dr. Kennedy, could hardly believe what he had heard. He told Houdini, "you've entertained millions and I am just an ordinary surgeon." Houdini told him, "but what you do is real, while I, in almost every respect, am a fake."
I have no doubt that one of the things Houdini may have thought he was a fake about was that first flight in Australia. Otherwise, he wouldn't have changed the date--or tried to.
On March 18, 2010, people around the world will commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the first thoroughly successful airplane flight on the continent of Australia. No question about it, it was made by Houdini at Diggers Rest in Victoria. Too bad, he went to his grave thinking there was a cloud over his record. There wasn't, it appears that in Frederick H. Jones, Houdini ran up against as big a liar as he was himself.
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Postby Harry Houdini » 12/29/09 10:42 PM

houdini's ghost wrote: I have no doubt that one of the things Houdini may have thought he was a fake about was that first flight in Australia. Otherwise, he wouldn't have changed the date--or tried to.


Over time many people try to manipulate typographical errors to distort important historical events. Anyway, why should Harry Houdini be allowed to escape the same criticisms? http://www.harryhoudini.com.au
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/29/09 11:27 PM

Hey, I thought you were dead.
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Postby Harry Houdini » 12/29/09 11:41 PM

Fifteen months ago, interested residents of Diggers Rest and surrounding districts, along with Houdini enthusiasts, formed a series of committees to put together events to commemorate the "First Australian Powered Controlled Sustained Flight of an Aircraft" by Harry Houdini.

The planned events have seen community effort from various organisations and community representatives (one of whom is the Lions Club) with wonderful financial & administrative support from the Melton Shire Council.

Thursday March 18th 2010 kicks off the celebrations at Diggers Rest with the Commemoration Ceremony. Saturday March 20th 2010 will see Melton Airfield host the Houdini - Centenary Air Show from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Details are available at: http://www.centenaryairshow.com

The committee initiave to invite Cosentino & Daryl Braithwaite to perform will, no doubt, be amongst the highlights of Sunday March 21st, 2010.

Along with the many other family orientated events planned we are looking forward to a great day, successfully concluding the three days of honouring Harry Houdini, escapologist and flight pioneer! http://www.harryhoudini.com.au
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Postby Harry Houdini » 12/30/09 02:59 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Hey, I thought you were dead.

Not in spirit...
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Postby houdini's ghost » 12/31/09 02:07 AM

Houdini brought three men to Australia to be the core of his ground crew: Antonio Brassac, the mechanic, who came with the plane, and Houdini's assistants: Harold James Vickery, carpenter and machinist, and Franz Kukol, who was Houdini's head man and the official photographer.
I hope any relatives of those gentleman who are still around are aware of the excitement at Digger's Rest.
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Postby Harry Houdini » 12/31/09 03:41 PM

houdini's ghost wrote:Houdini brought three men to Australia to be the core of his ground crew: Antonio Brassac, the mechanic, who came with the plane, and Houdini's assistants: Harold James Vickery, carpenter and machinist, and Franz Kukol, who was Houdini's head man and the official photographer.


Yes, very true. The township of Diggers Rest respect and appreciate the fine efforts of these three men. We would welcome any relatives to share in the excitement. Agreed, their place in history should be acknowledged.
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Postby houdini's ghost » 01/15/10 11:50 PM

I have just put up three pages of photos of Harold James Vickery, the carpenter/metal worker who patched up Houdini's plane to ready it for the historic March 18, 1910 flight at Digger's Rest, Australia.
http://www.houdinisghost.com/frankwilliamson.html
http://www.houdinisghost.com/franzkukol.html
http://www.houdinisghost.com/jimvickery.html
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Postby JohnCox » 03/16/10 10:29 AM

Great info on the Custance claim. Thanks, Patrick.
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Postby JohnCox » 03/16/10 11:36 AM

Hey, Houdini's Ghost, do you have any idea what happened to Houdini's Australian first flight trophy?

EDIT: Oh, never mind, you said above it was at the University of Texas at Austin.
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Postby JohnCox » 03/17/10 02:22 PM

Does anyone have a really great, close-up photo of Houdini in his Voisin that I can use on a story on my site. A photo that's never been published would be awesome. Feel free to watermark it and/or I will provide credit and links. I'd just like something special for this. Thanks.
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Postby JohnCox » 03/18/10 11:44 AM

My article on Houdini's Australian flight. 100 years ago today!

http://www.houdini-lives.com/Houdini_Li ... n_fly.html
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