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Flying into history

Students explore, recognise and appreciate the history of their local area by examining remains of the past and considering why they should be preserved.
Key inquiry question #1: 
How have changes in technology shaped our daily life?

Content summary

The impact of changing technology on people’s lives (ACHHK046)


  • discuss the similarities and differences of technology from the past through a range of sources and sequence them over time
  • use a range of communication forms to explain how one example of changing technology affected people’s lives

Background Notes for Teachers

Have you ever travelled in a plane to another city or country?
Did you know that humans have only been able to fly in planes for about 100 years?
In the old days it used to be very dangerous and difficult to fly in a plane.
Today it is a safe and common form of transport.
Look carefully at the sources to discover how great inventors and brave pilots changed the way we travel today.

Student Activities

Flying into history

Student work in groups or pairs to place the images of aircraft into the correct chronological sequence on the timeline.

Number of set tasks: 2

Activity notes for teachers

Mix 'n' Match


  • Work in groups or pairs to place the images of aircraft into the correct chronological sequence on the timeline.


Activity answers

Date Description Historical Information
1. 1870 Balloon made by Mr. Gale flying in the Domain, Sydney, 1870. Mr. Thomas Gale flew in a balloon from the Domain Sydney, over the Sydney Mint and landed in Glebe.
2. 1890 Lawrence Hargrave and his kites at Stanwell Park near Wollongong, 1890. 1880-1895 Lawrence Hargrave was an Australian inventor who experimented with kites to develop designs for powered flight. He launched a number of his designs at Stanwell Park near Wollongong.
3. 1910 Famous American magician and escape-artist, Harry Houdini flying his French-made aircraft in Australia, 1910. The great American magician an escape-artist, Harry Houdini, achieved the first controlled powered flight in Australia in a plane.
4. 1930s Australian female pilots, Nancy Bird and Jocelyn Howath, about 1930-33. Nancy Bird (later Nancy Bird-Walton) was a pioneering female pilot. She was known as the 'Angel of the Outback' because she helped set up a flying medical service to help babies in country areas of Australia.
5. 1951 Captain PG Taylor, pioneer airman, and a Catalina flying boat preparing to fly to South America, 1951. Captain Patrick Gordon Taylor flew a seaplane from Australia to Chile. Years before he had been awarded a medal for bravery when he saved a plane whose engine was broken. He climbed out of the plane while it was in mid-air and transferred oil from one engine to the other.
6. 2010 Qantas A380 Airbus, Sydney Airport, 2010. Qantas airlines started in Australia in 1920. This is a picture of the modern Qantas A380 Airbus.


How will people travel in the future?

Ask students to:

  • Think about and talk to another student about what travel might be like in the future.
  • Draw a picture to show their ideas about travel in the future.
  • Write words on their picture to label the important parts.

Background information

This learning activity is designed to help students understand concepts of time, such as past, present and future

The artist drew this in 1891 and it shows his idea of what Sydney would look like in the future. Ask students to consider the difference between the artist’s idea of the future and the Sydney Harbour Bridge of today that was built in the 1930s.

Draw students’ attention to the artist’s drawing of the aircraft and point out that aeroplanes like this had not been invented in 1891. This was the artist’s impression of what the future would be like.

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum History K-10

A student:

  • HT1-3 describes the effects of changing technology on people’s lives over time
  • HT1-4 demonstrates skills of historical inquiry and communication


Comprehension: chronology, terms and concepts

  • distinguish between past, present and future (ACHHS032, ACHHS048)

Use of sources

  • explore and use a range of sources about the past (ACHHS034, ACHHS050)
  • identify and compare features of objects from the past and present (ACHHS035, ACHHS051)


  • pose questions about the past using sources provided (ACHHS017)

Explanation and communication

  • use a range of communications forms (oral, graphic, written, role play( and digital technologies (ACHHS022)
  • Continuity and change: some things change over time and others remain the same
  • Perspectives: people from the past will have different views and experiences
  • Significance: importance of an event, development or individual/group

Learning across the curriculum

  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Literacy