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UC aviation heritage project takes flight

Antony Perry

31 May 2017: Understanding how aviation has shaped Australian society and preserving key heritage sources for future generations is the focus of a University of Canberra research project awarded national funding today.

Researchers will develop fresh insights from under-utilised sources of aviation heritage and communicate their unique stories to the public through innovative events, exhibitions and publications.

The project, which will be led by Associate Professor of Cultural Heritage Dr Tracy Ireland, received $440,000 through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects scheme.

The team will examine how aviation has transformed local and national places, communities and cultures. In doing so, it hopes to reshape society’s understanding of the cultural impact of aviation in the lead-up to the centenary of Australian civil aviation in 2020/21.

Dr Ireland said the project, which will build on a successful partnership between Airservices Australia and the University, aims to improve the long-term management and ongoing engagement with Australia’s rich and diverse aviation heritage.

“The significance of aviation heritage in Australia is demonstrated by more than 70 public and private aviation-related museums and collections nationwide,” Dr Ireland said.

“Aviation has played an important role in transforming Australian society over the last 100 years, but we’re finding its heritage is under-appreciated and at risk.

“This project will enable community access to neglected and at-risk sources of aviation heritage, and engage the public’s fascination with aviation through new interpretations of its extraordinary social and cultural impact.”

The project will build a partnership between the aviation industry, community groups, museums and a multidisciplinary academic team.

University of Canberra researchers will be joined by colleagues from the Australian National University, the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales in this project.

Partner organisations include Airservices Australia, the National Museum of Australia, Civil Aviation Historical Society, and the SFO Museum in San Francisco.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Mark Evans congratulated Dr Ireland and her team.

“We are delighted our researchers continue to be recognised in these highly competitive schemes,” Professor Evans said.

“It’s testament to the hard work of our researchers, who continue to contribute towards our growth as a young research institution.”