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  • Writer's picturesamantha battams

Harry butler (the red devil) book launchED

What an amazing month! This month 'The Red Devil: The story of South Australian #Aviation #Pioneer' was launched at the #Minlaton Town Hall, with 350 attending (officially launched by Professor Peter Monteath). Les and I gave a presentation on #HarryButler, with audience members including SA Governor Hieu Van Le and state and federal MPs, Fraser Ellis and Rowan Ramsey. Also launched was a children's book about Harry Butler ('Born to Fly' by Bev Williams, beautifully illustrated by Tim Ide - it was very popular on the night!) and a booklet on Harry Butler (Farm Boy to Aeronaut, Minlaton History Group). The launch was expertly MC'd by the wonderful Lainie Anderson - I have just finished reading her book Long Flight Home about the UK-Australia flight taken by the Smith brothers and crew, told through the eyes of Wally Shiers, it is a fabulous read.

The launch at Minlaton was part of the 100th anniversary celebrations of Harry Butler's Adelaide-Minlaton first flight over a major body of water in the southern hemisphere, with airmail. There were 3000 people there on Sunday 4th August at the Minlaton airfield who witnesses an amazing day with aerial displays, a vintage car rally, and flight re-enactment, just to name a few events. The 100th flight centenary committee did a wonderful job, particularly Julie Searle, and the whole community contributed - here are some great pictures of this event by photographer Karen Waller.

The Minlaton launch was followed by a launch at the South Australian Aviation Museum, by Dr Susan Close, MP for Port Adelaide.

When speaking to Nathan Davies for the Sunday Mail article I mentioned that the airport could even be named after Harry Butler! This suggestion seems to have gained momentum this week! Lots of debate on ABC Adelaide's webpage about this! Even if there is no name change (which might be too costly), I strongly believe that we need to better recognise at the airport our pioneer #aviators and the major role that South Australia has had in aviation, including aviators Harry Butler, the Smith Brothers and crew, Fred Custance, Bill Wittber, Sir Hubert Wilkins and (later) Jimmy Melrose. I heard that a portrait of Sir Hubert Wilkins is in the men's toilet – hardly appropriate recognition if this is true.!!!

Also on The Red Devil book, Les and I will be speaking to the legendary Peter Goers on ABC Adelaide 891 next Tuesday night about Harry Butler and #TheRedDevil. Can't wait to speak to Peter as I love his show.

In other book news, I have started the sequel to #TheSecretArtofPoisoning - it is a book about the nephew of Martha Needle, Alexander Newland Lee, called #TheRhynieTragedy

Also, in other events in August I started a new role as Senior Research Fellow at the Southgate Institute of Health Society and Equity, working on an interesting justice and health project. I have been alerted to the considerable rise in imprisonment rates in Australia, and funding spent on prisons, at the expense of other areas (such as health and education). Here is an eye-opening article on this problem in Victoria.

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