Local News

Celebrating 100 Years of NT Aviation


This year marks the centenary of aviation history in the Northern Territory. In 1919, a Fannie Bay airstrip – previously a horse paddock – welcomed its very first flight, marking a new paradigm for aviation in the Northern Territory and Australia. Ever since, Darwin has experienced a fascinating history to emerge as one of the most significant places for aviation in Australia. Darwin International Airport, which shares its aerodrome with Defence, has held a significant place in this rich history. This year marks 21 years since the airport became privatised, along with Alice Springs and Tennant Creek airports, under the Northern Territory Airports’ banner.

CEO Ian Kew welcomes the opportunity to commemorate this important year.

“For over two decades, Northern Territory Airports has been part of the vibrant Top End community. We embrace the role Darwin International Airport has had in aviation history and we look forward to an exciting future ahead.”

To celebrate this anniversary and help showcase this fast-moving history, Darwin International Airport hosted a cocktail party on Tuesday 2nd July 2019 for over 100 friends and dignitaries in a secure airside location – an event of this nature is believed to be a world first occurrence. Guests will enjoy the premiere of a documentary by Exposure Productions which delves into this thrilling and fascinating history, emphasising the importance of Northern Australia in the context of Australian aviation.

Produced by accomplished filmmaker Andrew Hyde (Exposure Productions), The Sweet Little Note of the Engine traverses key historical moments that help define Darwin as one of – if not the most – important places for aviation in Australia. From The Great Air Race and the birth of QANTAS, through to the bombing of Darwin and the Petrov Affair; from The Beatles stopover, through to Cyclone Tracy and the Bali bombings – there is no denying the significance of the powerful stories encompassed in this
landmark film and place we call home.

Darwin International Airport is proud to be a long-standing supporter and sponsor of the film, and is in great company with co-partners, Channel Nine and the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre. The film project has also received funding support from Screen Territory and the Northern Territory Government.

The sponsorship of this film development, since its inception, is one of the many ways Darwin International Airport has supported important historical and cultural projects over the years. In 2016, the airport launched a history book by revered historians Peter and Sheila Forest, The World Flies in and Darwin takes off! which Darwin Airport was a project supporter and sponsor. As part of its ongoing sponsorship program, Darwin International Airport also partners with the Northern Territory Travelling Film Festival and Darwin International Film Festival encouraging the development of new and exciting work within the screen industry in the NT. This is part of the airport’s program focused on arts, culture and community, and supporting everything from festivals to film, music to dance, spoken word to publications.

“We believe our airport to be a place way beyond a transport hub for locals and tourists. We are a part of the history of the NT and strive to support the community of Darwin and the Top End embracing an exciting, unique and frontier destination for visitors and locals alike,” suggested Kew.

2019 is the year to celebrate the centenary of aviation history in Northern Australia and acknowledge the spirited and adventurous pioneers of aviation who laid the foundation for growth, trade and development. Darwin International Airport is proud to be an intrinsic part of this history and welcome the opportunity to share this momentous year with our local community through the inspiring expression of film.

Image: Tourism NT