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Author Taggart, Clifton.
Title Memorial plaque John Cowe McIntosh, pilot killed in WA's first fatal air crash at Pithara on 28 March 1921, 25th Sept. 1996 [picture]
Published/Produced 1996.


Call Number BA1938/123
Description 1 photograph ; digital, TIFF file, col.
Series Taggart family farming at Rock Hill farm, east of Wongan Hills ; BA1938/123
Notes Title from caption in original album in private hands.
Rights advisory For personal use only. To publish or display, contact the State Library of Western Australia.
Notes John Cowe McIntosh was pilot with Ray Parer of the first single-engine aircraft to fly from Britain to Australia in 1920, an Airco (De Havilland) DH.9 G-EAQM. John McIntosh was born in Lumsden, Scotland. He was the illegitimate son of a 29-year-old servant maid, Isabella Cook, and a young apprentice mason, William Cow. McIntosh was adopted as an infant into the family of James McIntosh. His adoptive parents added "e" to his name and he was registered as John Cowe McIntosh. Following his 17th birthday, John McIntosh left Scotland, and arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia on the SS Ormuz in June 1909. When war began in 1914, McIntosh joined the 4th Field Ambulance of the Australian Imperial Force and served in Gallipoli. He was evacuated to England in 1915 and married a widow, Amelia Taylor. By the end of the war, he had reached the rank of acting second lieutenant in the Australian Flying Corp and was ready for repatriation back to Australia. In March 1919, the Commonwealth Government of Australia offered a prize of 10,000 pounds for the first flight by Australians in an aircraft of British Empire manufacture from Hounslow or Calshot in England to Australia accomplished within 720 hours (30 days). On 24 June 1919 Ray Parer declared his intention to enter the race, but needed money to buy an aircraft, and a crew member. In late 1919, Lieutenant John Cowe McIntosh (who had only flown once) joined Parer and obtained sponsorship from Scottish whisky magnate Peter Dawson. Parer purchased a single-engine de Havilland D.H.9 biplane, G-EAQM, and painted "P.D." on the fuselage to acknowledge his sponsor Peter Dawson. By this time the air race had been won by (Sir) Ross and (Sir) Keith Smith who reached Darwin in December 1919 in a converted twin-engined Vickers Vimy bomber. Paper and McIntosh decided to be first to do the trip in a single-engined aircraft. McIntosh and Parer left Hounslow on 8 January 1920, and 208 days later arrived in Darwin on 2 August. The record stands as the longest time taken to fly between the two countries. They were officially welcomed at Flemington racecourse, Melbourne, on 31 August, but what happened during the preceding 237 days is all but incomprehensible. They had made the first of their innumerable forced landings soon after leaving England, and their last at Culcairn, New South Wales. As they struggled from one disaster to another they left a trail of broken propellers, smashed undercarriages, damaged tail-skids, ruined radiators, crumpled wings, and bent fuselages. Their engine had twice caught fire, a vicious down-draught had almost forced the aircraft into the smouldering crater of Mount Vesuvius in Italy, and they had had to fight off Arabs in the Syrian desert. Finance was such a problem that Parer and McIntosh undertook advertising flights in Calcutta, and embellished their aircraft with slogans ranging from tea to whisky. In spite of this, Parer and McIntosh had completed the first single-engine aircraft flight from England to Australia—and the first symbolic freight flight in the form of a bottle of PD Whisky delivered to Prime Minister W. M. Hughes. The aviators were each presented with a 500 pound cheque and an Air Force Cross. Their D.H.9 aircraft was eventually presented by the government to the Australian War Memorial, where it is still preserved. C. Day Lewis commemorated their achievement in an epic poem, 'Flight to Australia', and Parer recorded their experiences in Flight and Adventures of Parer and McIntosh, by Air from England to Australia (Melbourne, 1921, 1986). After the race the two parted ways. McIntosh was giving joy-rides and flying displays to locals at Pithara, WA on 28 March 1921 when tragically, his single- engined De Havilland aircraft crashed. It was the first fatal air disaster in Western Australia. He was 29 years of age. The scene of the crash was renamed McIntosh Park. (Information from D. Eyre, Additional Info from Australian Dictionary of Biography ) and Metropolitan Cemeteries Board Photo of G-EAQM at the Australian War Memorial in 2008:
Summary This memorial is located at McIntosh Park, Pithara, WA, named after pilot John Cowe McIntosh who died there in WA’s first fatal air crash in March 1921. Grave at left is that of Gustav Liebe, 1861-1950 builder of His Majesty's Theatre and other important buildings and one of the largest early wheat grower in WA.
Subjects McIntosh, John Cowe, 1892-1921 -- Monuments -- Photographs.
Memorials -- Western Australia -- Pithara -- Photographs.
Aircraft accident victims -- Western Australia -- Photographs.
Online image.