Badgery.jpg

Captain Andrew Delfosse Badgery

Australian Flying Corps

Born in 1888 into a family steeped in the traditions of the pastoral industry from its infancy in New South Wales, Andrew Delfosse Badgery might have been expected to follow in his father’s footsteps on the land. Instead he took to the air, becoming one of Australia’s early aviators. Always interested in things mechanical, Del became fascinated with the idea of flying as he watched exhibition flights of some of the pioneer pilots in Australia.

In 1913, Del sailed for England to study aeronautics at Hendon, qualifying for a Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate at the end of the year. He returned to Australia in early 1914, with all the parts he needed to assemble his own aeroplane and the hope that he would be accepted into the recently formed air arm of the Australian Military Forces. With fierce competition for the few places, Del was unsuccessful, so put his energies into building his 45 horsepower biplane on the family property, Newbury, at Sutton Forest. He took off from the paddocks on his first flights in July 1914, amazing the locals with his daring feats. He went on to pilot the first aeroplane to fly in Tasmania in September 1914.

He was finally accepted into the Australian Flying Corps when No 1 Squadron was formed in January 1916, leaving for Egypt in April. He was engaged on active service in the area around the Suez Canal, taking part in the Battle of Katia, but at the end of the year he had a breakdown and found himself unable to fly. He was transferred to England where his commanding officers hoped he would recover and be able to act as an instructor, but in his own words he “had not the nerve to get in an Aeroplane”. His health was poor and he was discharged in April 1918.

Having been among the select few involved at the birth Australian aviation, the war put an end to his dreams of a career in this exciting new industry, although he continued to fly after his return to Australia. In 1920 Del resumed his pre-war employment as a clerk at Parliament House in Sydney where he was highly regarded. He died in Sydney in 1965.