Brisbane From The Air: Illustrated (1919)

Brisbane From The Air, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Brisbane From The Air, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

In September 1919, The Queenslander newspaper published a series of aerial photographs of Brisbane and its surrounding suburbs under the title, Brisbane By Air. The photographs were taken by the newspaper’s photographer, Frederick William Thiel and were promoted as the first photographs taken of Brisbane from an aeroplane.

The Queenslander had approached the chief organiser of the Peace Loan campaign and requested the use of their aeroplane to take the images. A special camera was employed for the aerial shots, as The Queenslander explained to its readers – “The assistance of the Kodak Company was sought, and the manager, Mr F.L. South, was good enough to lend a “Graflex” camera of half-plate size. This was reinforced with a wooden cover to protect the bellows from air pressure, and one of the “Queenslander’s” special fast Cooke lenses was fitted…The camera was lashed to the struts of the aeroplane [see image below] just over the fuselage, the photographer took his seat in the observer’s compartment, and the voyage of discovery was begun”.

'The first photographer (F.W. Thiel) to photograph Brisbane from an Aeroplane' From Brisbane From The Air, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

‘The first photographer (F.W. Thiel) to photograph Brisbane from an Aeroplane’. From Brisbane From The Air, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

'The City as seen from a point about over South Brisbane'. From Brisbane From The Air, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

‘The City as seen from a point about over South Brisbane’. From Brisbane From The Air, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Accompanying Thiel during the 40 minute flight was the pilot, Flight-Commander Frank Smith, DFC. Smith would perform a banking manoeuvre when setting up each shot.

Overall eight photographs were taken from a height of nearly 2,000 feet (over 600 metres). These images included views of Brisbane city, Kangaroo Point, New Farm, Hawthorne, Bulimba, Roma Street Railway Station, Ascot Racecourse, Albion, Wooloowin and Kedron.

'Looking across the Roma Street Railway Yards and the City to Bulimba Point and Albion Park Racecourse'. From Brisbane From The Air, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

‘Looking across the Roma Street Railway Yards and the City to Bulimba Point and Albion Park Racecourse’. From Brisbane From The Air, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Later that year the photographs were republished in a book titled Brisbane From The Air: Illustrated.

State Library of Queensland have digitised Brisbane By Air: Illustrated which can be perused online through our One Search catalogue.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland