NotesOf the aircraft manufacturing companies operating in Australia prior to WWII the General Aircraft Company, registered in Sydney in February 1929 and operating at Mascot, stands out. While other Australian aircraft manufacturing companies, such as the Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company, Lasco and Qantas, serially manufactured British designs and/or one-off local designs, the General Aircraft Company determined that, as well as producing aircraft to English designs, they would serially manufacture a local design, using local timbers and a locally designed and built engine. According to the designer George Beohm (in a letter to Mr Frank Walters, Hon. Secretary of the Aviation Historical Society of Australia, NSW Branch dated 7/6/1965) "[t]he idea of the plane was thought of whilst I was Engineer for Edie Creek Gold (sic) fields in New Guinea operating from Lae to Wau, where we operated a couple of D.H. wooden Moths. I found that most of the cargo was too wide to fit a Moth. So I decided I would build a small type wide enough to carry tins of biscuits, and other commodities, as there were no machines of this type available, so on completion of the job in New Guinea, I came to Sydney in 1929 and started a small repair workshop for Light Aircraft (sic) and was later joined at Mascot by Mr A Royal who was one of the Big Six of Edie Creek Gold Mining Coy, and together with his backing we formed General Aircraft Coy. and built a workshop on land adjoining the airport at Mascot." The design of the Genairco was based on the popular English-designed and built DeHavilland Moth but using the wing design of the English Avro Avian. The engine was to be the Harkness Hornet, designed and built in Drummoyne, Sydney by motor engineers, Harkness and Hillier. The basis of the engine was a cylinder bank from a Swiss-designed, French-built Hispano Suiza V8 aero engine mounted on the locally-designed crankcase.
After the manufacture and rebuild of several DeHavilland Moth aircraft the first Genairco (c/n 10) was built in 1929. In June 1930 Genairco VH-UOG (c/n 16) was issued with its certificate of registration and made its first flight on October 19th 1930. Australian timbers were used in the construction of these aircraft, relying on research work carried out by the Technological Museum in Sydney. It was the trial aircraft for the installation of the Harkness Hornet aircraft engine, designed by Sydney automotive engineer Donald Harkness and manufactured at his works at Drummoyne. This was the first aero engine largely designed and produced in Australia to be tested to airworthiness standards and approved for use in aircraft.
Although the Hornet engine was successful it was not as good as the DeHavilland Gipsy or Cirrus aero engines. According to Beohm it was underpowered (Ibid.). In November 1930 UOG was fitted with a Gipsy II engine and sold to S C Coleman of Bourke, NSW. In October 1935 it came into the ownership of Dr T J Henry, father of Goya Henry. Goya possessed a disregard of regulations and had appeared before the Central Court on 1 November 1934 on a charge of flying in contravention of the Air Navigation Regulations under the Air Navigation Act 1920. He was convicted and fined. On 8th July 1936 he was advised that his pilot's licence was suspended because of various breaches of the Air Navigation Regulations. Several days after the suspension of his pilot's licence he flew the Genairco, named by him "Jolly Roger" under Sydney Harbour Bridge, being the first pilot to do so and in contravention of the law. He appealed to the Full Court of the High Court of Australia on the basis that Section 51 of the Australian Constitution did not allow the Federal Government to make Regulations for air navigation using its external affairs powers. The High Court upheld Henry's appeal and declared the regulations under the Air Navigation Act invalid. In academic discussions of the constitution Goya Henry's successful 'attack' on Section 51 is still cited.
The Genairco was placed in Goya's name in 1940 and it was sold to Macquarie Grove Flying School in 1946. After a succession of owners it came into the ownership of Airworld at Wangaratta in 1985. The Airworld collection was disposed of in 2002 and the Genairco was purchased by a private collector. The Genairco was purchased in 2007 by the Museum with the assistance of the Australian Government through the National Cultural Heritage Account and the E A and V I Crome fund.