Harry Hawker

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Harry George Hawker (22 January, 188912 July, 1921) was an Australian aviation pioneer and co-founder of Hawker Aviation, the firm responsible a long series of successful military aircraft, including the Fury, Hurricane, Hunter and Harrier.

Hawker was born in Moorabbin, Victoria. As a 12-year-old he worked at a garage helping to build engines for five shillings a week, before going to England in 1912. He became immersed in aviation, began instructing novice flyers, and managed hangars at Brooklands aerodrome, the hub of British aviation. Having established his name as an aviator he became chief test pilot for Tom Sopwith who was already recognised as the originator of many fine aircraft..

In 1914 Harry Hawker returned to Australia to demonstrate the advanced Sopwith Tabloid which he had earlier helped design. A wild crowd nearly wrecked the plane on one occasion and he further damaged it during stunt flying, so he went back to England, where he remained throughout the Great War, designing and testing production aircraft with Sopwith.

After the war, he attempted to fly the Atlantic in a triplane and disappeared. Six days later he turned up in Europe aboard a tramp freighter without a radio. He won the Daily Mail prize of 5000 pounds, however.

In September 1920 Sopwith Aviation was liquidated because of fears the government would examine the wartime aircraft production contracts of companies like Sopwith and impose a crippling retrospective tax liability on them.

Harry Hawker, Tom Sopwith, Fred Sigist, and Bill Eyre then formed a new company, each contributing 5,000 pounds. To avoid any possible claims against the new company for the wartime contracts of the old company, they chose to call it H.G. Hawker Engineering. (It was renamed to Hawker Aviation in 1933.) As Tom Sopwith put it: "to avoid any muddle if we had gone on building aeroplanes and called them Sopwiths—there was bound to be a muddle somewhere—we called the company the Hawker Company. I didn't mind. He was largely responsible for our growth during the war."

Hawker was killed in 1921 when his aircraft crashed while practicing for an airshow. He had spinal tuberculosis and that plus a fire in the air were considered contributing factors.

In 1989 Moorabbin Airport was renamed "Moorabbin (Harry Hawker) Airport".ja:ハリー・ホーカー sv:Harry Hawker

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