Local History, Local stories...Harold Cecil Durant

It would be fair to say that English pilot, Harold Cecil Durant, was born with nine lives. After serving with the RAF in World War I, Durant immigrated to Australia in the 1920's where he continued to fly - and all too often crash – his plane. In addition to winging a petrol wagon at Warwick Farm aerodrome; flipping his plane into a fowl-yard at Mascot; and making a very bumpy emergency landing on North Brighton golf course, Durant had a lucky escape on 15 January 1938 when he crashed his Gipsy Moth into the sea during a surf carnival at North Cronulla Beach. Hundreds of spectators had gathered to watch Durant perform aerial stunts when suddenly, midway through a half-roll, his plane struck a stirring cross-wind which sent it plummeting nose-first into the shallow water, narrowly missing 15 life-savers. Durant was met with applause when he climbed from his cockpit and waded to shore with only slight bruises!

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