Cobham Aviation celebrates its own rich history

Of all the tenants at Essendon Fields, Cobham Aviation holds a particularly special connection with the airport. Its namesake, Sir Alan Cobham, is one of the greatest names in world aviation and also holds a connection to Essendon.

In 1926 Cobham made history when he became the first pilot to complete a return trip from England to Australia. Cobham departed the River Medway, England, on 30 June 1926 in a De Havilland D.H. 50J G-EBFO aircraft. When arriving at Essendon Airport on 15 August 1926 he was greeted by a crowd estimated at 100,000 people – a significant proportion of Melbourne’s population at the time.

The adulation that greeted Cobham was reflected in some of the newspaper reports from the day.

One newspaper said:  “It was a people’s welcome, and truly Australian. Sweeping barriers and officials aside as if they were straw, the crowd surged round the daring aviator, cheering and endeavouring to shake his hand.”

“A guard of Air Force men and police threw themselves around Mr. Cobham, and, picking him up, placed him in the refuge of the main hangar, after a strenuous struggle. Mr. Cobham was amazed at the warmth and strength of his reception.”

Within days of his return to England, Alan Cobham was awarded a knighthood by King George V.

Sir Alan’s passion for aviation and innovation lives on strongly in Essendon Fields based Cobham Aviation today, a leading specialist aviation operator in Australia who makes a significant contribution to the community, particularly in search and rescue. Cobham Aviation operate the most advanced civil search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) – Bombardier Challenger SAR jets.

Cobham officially launched its Essendon Fields Airport SAR base in 2017, where two of its Challenger SAR jets continue to be based and maintained. 36 people are employed at the base, performing aerial border surveillance and search-and-rescue operations spanning the country’s exclusive economic zone and SAR region. Cobham also provide fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) service in support of mining, oil and gas projects; critical freight and VIP charter flights.

In fact, the Essendon Fields Airport SAR crew have participated in more than 240 SAR call outs since the base was established. The crew, together with their interstate counterparts, have been involved in assisting or saving hundreds of lives.

For more information on Essendon Fields Airport’s centenary visit