The community farewells Eric Hayden, a fourth generation Hayden, famously known as the founder of the Wright Flyer project in Narromine.
Eric was born on February 20, 1956 during the time of the ‘big flood’, when the rain’s rising waters meant much travelling to keep his mother on the hospital side of water.
Eric began his life on a property, ‘Deloraine’ near Wyanga, south of Narromine. After drawing a ballot block the family moved to ‘Barooga’, formerly known as ‘Mitchel Tank’ on the Tullamore Road, where he grew up until his father retired and the family moved to town.
Eric attended Narromine Public School and Narromine High School, but moved to Wollaroi College in Orange for his Higher School Certificate. After he finished school he studied for his qualification as an electronics technician, and then began work at Keireths in Narromine.
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Eventually Eric opened his own business, Hayden Electronics. Being of a generous nature he allowed people to pay in kind, as people offered goods as a type of barter system. Sadly this method did not pay the bills, but was a testament to his very giving and caring nature.
He was then offered a job with Grieg’s Music House in Goulbourn, so Eric departed Narromine to follow his next quest, which was music.
Musical genes were strong for Eric, with his great grandfather of Scottish decent keen on the bagpipes and violin, his grandfather known to play the according, and mother a piano player and local music teacher. Musical leaning was intrinsic and his first guitar was a gift from his parents, attending lessons with Bruce Johnson in Narromine.
Eric went on to play in many bands, and eventually formed his own band “SLEDGE”, with a reputation as the loudest band in Sydney. It was with SLEDGE that Eric and the members toured Australia from the east coast to the west.
Eric went on to work as a session musician, performing lead and backing guitar for recordings and concerts. He was favoured by Kim Hart, a New Zealand singer, for whom Eric provided the backing lead guitar for many of her recordings and singles.
Working as a session musician he was fortunate to work with many other personages in the world, including the Emmanuel’s, Bo Diddly, the band, the Angels, and many others. He also wrote music for television commercials during the 1970s - 1980s.
In the early 2000s Eric moved back to Narromine. One night he asked his father if he could read his book “Kill devil Hill’ about the Wright brothers and their aircraft. It was reading this the ideas and dream for the wright Flyer replica was born.
After five years of very detailed global research, including work with the Aeronautical Engineering Department of Sydney University, NASA and Short Brothers in Ireland, he managed to procure a copy of the original hand drawn plans for the 1908/9 Model A Wright Flyer.
World renowned aeronautical engineer Bill Whitney drew up the plans, tunnel testing and stress reports and the late Col Pay on board as the pilot.
With the help and support of the Narromine community, including the Council and petitions, the local members of Parliament, the surrounding communities, the Federal Government granted the Wright Flyer Project $100,000 to build it.
For the next two years with the help and knowledge of his father Keith, who was an airframe fitter in the RAAF during World War II, his mother Jean using her sewing skills sewed sailcloth to cover all fabric surfaces and wings of the Flyer, and alas it was built.
Eric approached Neil Armstrong to come to Narromine and dedicate the flyer, but he had other booked commitments and passed it on to Buzz Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon.
Buzz came to Narromine to the Air Show to dedicate the Flyer the “Spirit of Flight, in honour of 100 years of flight.
“Now that’s something to brag about,” were Mr Aldrin’s comments as the flyer was launched.
With the visit and presence of Mr Aldrin, Narromine was catapulted onto the global aviation stage.
The success was so great, that people all over the world were asking Eric for advice about the Wright Brothers and the Wright Flyer, with his dad’s phone nearly reaching melt down all hours of day and night.
Today the Flyer has a new home in the Narromine Aviation Museum, housed safely for posterity and for the history of the town.
Eric leaves his ex-wife Jane and ex-partner Jenny, his four children and two grandchildren, a sister, and his father survives him.
The Flyer now serves as the reality of a dream, and a reminder to all of us, that dreams can be reached, no matter how big.
Narromine the town and the people supported Eric with his dream, a dream that at times many felt would never be a reality. Perseverance and support won through.
Sadly with Eric’s passing on December 30, 2018, he leaves this legacy to his home town and its people, a dream that you everyone helped to make happen - the only flying Wright Flyer replica of this model in the world.
Eric has now grown new wings, soaring high, with wings that are free in the breeze.
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