While construction is yet to begin on the proposed western Sydney airport located at Badgerys Creek, debate has already started on what to call the new facility.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott kicked things off at the inaugural Bradfield Oration on November 5, when he advocated the airport should be named after the NSW engineer John Bradfield, who designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city’s rail network.
“One way to sustain enthusiasm for the new airport could be to name it after a champion for Sydney and I can’t think of a better candidate than John Bradfield,” the Prime Minister said.
“I suspect that many other Sydneysiders might think so, too.
“We shouldn’t forget that aviation was also one of John Bradfield’s interests.”
However, others have thrown up aviation pioneer Lawrence Hargrave as another exceptional Australian deserving of an airport named in his honour.
The Australian division of the Royal Aeronautical Society has written an open letter to the Prime Minister asking Hargrave be considered.
RAeS (Australia division) president Noel Schmidt says Hargrave would be “a more relevant and fitting pioneer name” than Bradfield.
Moreover, Hargrave had an “immediately recognisable association with aviation that Bradfield does not”.
“Hargrave was a global aviation pioneer whose work with box kites undoubtedly accelerated the development of the principles of fixed-wing aeronautics,” Schmidt said in his letter to the Prime Minister.
“Hargrave’s willingness to freely share his experimental data with others across the globe was an extraordinary contribution to the phenomenon of mankind’s first flight early in the 20th century.
“It is almost shameful that, in his time, Hargrave was far better known in the USA for the work he was doing than in his own country.”
Support for Hargrave has also come from non-aviation circles.
Wollongong councillor Leigh Colacino said he too had written to Tony Abbott to put forward the case for Hargrave, who he described as “the man on a world scale who got us into the air”.
“He is recognised around the world as being the forefather of flight, and he stands tall as a world-recognised scientist,” Cr Colacino told the Illawarra Mercury on November 7.
“There will be approach roads and rail leading to the airport and I see no reason why Bradfield should not give his name to those, given his brilliance in that sort of infrastructure.”
Hargrave’s Kite Day, an event every two years where schoolchildren gather at Stanwell Park near Wollongong to fill the sky with kites in honour of the aviation pioneer, will be held on Wednesday November 12.
On that day 120 years ago in 1894, Hargrave was lifted 16 feet in the air by four box-kites, one of the most significant breakthroughs in the development of the modern aircraft.
Media commentator Peter Fitzsimons, who is patron of Hargrave’s Kite Day, said Hargrave’s achievements made him the logical choice as the name for the Badgerys Creek Airport.
“What better name to give a second Sydney airport, than after the Sydney man who made the breakthrough that started the whole shebang in the first place?,” FitzSimons wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald on November 7.
What do you think? Bradfield Airport? Or Hargrave Airport? What about Gough Whitlam Airport?