David Warren’s Amazing Black Box

Let me tell you about my proudest school project. This initially started off as a project for my school. It’s the S.K Austin Award and it’s the biggest assignment that we get in year 5 and year 6. It is a very prestigious award at Claremont College as it is dedicated to one of the founders of the school. I picked David Warren because when I was going through famous Australians that I could choose from, my dad mentioned that he thought the inventor of the black box was Australian, but he didn’t know his name.

For this assignment I had a good idea as to what needed to be done, since I planned on doing a video because of my past experience creating: the Tunguska documentary. So I knew what I needed to do. I had done a lot of research at the library and I had formed a picture of the story I would tell in my head, so I wrote the initial script on paper. That took me three long days. Then I spent the whole holidays filming, interviewing and editing.

I had a lot of filming problems because this time I wanted to do the filming outside and I tried to do it at a beautiful scene in front of the Harbour Bridge, but the problem was after trying and trying for a few hours I really couldn’t do it consistently with the sun in my eyes. Then I moved to another location, beside the bridge without the sun, but the problem this time was the noise that came from the trains every now and then, ruined my recording. I then started to lose the light so I gave up. In the end I decided to go back to the green screen approach and record that night. I had a new problem, I was wearing a green dress. I looked at the footage I had, much of it was good and I really did not want to throw it out, but I did. I had wasted the whole day on filming problems and I would have to ask to get Raj for another day. Anyway, all the filming got done and I am quite happy with the result.

I did the initial edit in just one day. Then it was just one more day to have all the voices syncing. But the video was very long, more than 45 minutes. My goal was for it to be 8 minutes like my other one (as you can see I didn’t make it). The rest of the editing was a long and gruelling process for many weeks. When I showed the first draft to Ms Thompson, she gave me suggestions on how to make it more interesting. I had a lot more work to do. I didn’t completely finish and I wanted to do many more things on the second half, but I had to hand it in and my dad was getting a bit mad at me spending too much time at the computer. If you know my dad, you will know that is a but ironic.

Lots of people gave me feedback on the video and I want to call out a special thank you to a few:

  • Raj Dhatt, he is a great camera man and gives me a lot of advice.
  • Titus McLaren, who pointed out lots of the editing errors I did with Adobe Premier Pro and tips on Photoshop.
  • Ms Thompson (Meg Thompson), who suggested ways to make it more interesting.
  • Captain Richard Woodward from Qantas, Captain Richard Champion De Crespigny from Qantas and author of the book QF32 and Peter Warren (David Warren’s son) for the interviews.

Thank you Google for helping me track down Peter Warren. My mum and dad helped with that when I couldn’t find him.

My petition

The pivotal moment for me was when I discovered that David Warren wasn’t recognized for 41 years and it is still not fixed. I realized this was terrible and I wanted to change it, so I created a petition so that I could try to get this changed.

When I learnt that Sir Robert Hardingham was honoured at the Gatwick Airport, I thought that was great. It got me thinking, why did the man who approved of David Warren’s idea, seem to have more recognition than the man who actually created it.

It is a common tradition to name an airport after a local hero, in my video I call out a few example of other countries doing this:

  1. The Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome, Italy
  2. The Mozart Airport in Salzburg, Austria
  3. And JFK has 2 airports named after him. One in Queens, New York (John F. Kennedy International Airport) and one in Ashland, Wisconsin (JFK Memorial Airport)

After you watch my video, please consider if Australians should all know the name and story of this great man and sign my petition please. It has been exciting to watch the votes every day and read the comments from people all over the world. First getting to 10, then 40 and currently I have 85, but I am hoping to get a lot more.

Sign my Petition

My dad and his friends have no problem telling me the ins and outs of peoples careers such as Don Bradman, Dawn Fraser and Pat Rafter. I will consider this petition a success when ordinary Australians like my dad don’t ‘think’ that the inventor of the black box flight recorder is Australian, they ‘know’ he is and they can confidently say his name and tell kids his wonderful story.

One day he might even be credited on shows like Air Crash Investigations (by National Geographic Channel, also known as Mayday). Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Name the upcoming airport after David Warren, the inventor of the Black Box

Please click and sign up for my petition


  1. Cosma on 25/11/2012 at 12:11 am

    Dear Eve, I am so very impressed by what you have done. Honestly I didn’t know much about the black box. The video was very interesting for me. Can you tell me how do they find the black box after a crash? I don’t think it will be in the same position where it was before the crash. Is it somewow possible to locate the black box? And for me another interesting topic would be who is listening to the last things that are said before a plane crashes and before many people die. Of course it will help to improve the safety but it also contains the last words of someone who is extremely scared because he is going to die. Do you know which improvements have been made because of what had been recorded by the black box? I am also curious how you managed to get those interviews? And my last question: Do you want to become a Journalist?
    With Love, Cosma

  2. evecogan on 27/11/2012 at 7:05 pm

    Hi Cosma
    Thank you for such kind words about my video.
    Wow, so many questions.
    How they find a black box is only hard if it crashes into the sea. In the sea the black box sends out a signal every 1 second for the next two days. On land they just look through the wreckage.
    The people who listen to the recording are the investigators and what they listen to are the last words of the pilots. I have heard a lot of them and they are pretty professional. They are listening out for clues like “We have lost engine power” etc.
    Hundreds of improvements have been made, probably more than one in every crash. Sometimes it is not due to the plane and instead they need to train their pilots in a different way.
    I was lucky to get the interviews, because there was a dad in my soccer team who knew one pilot and my dad knew the other pilot.
    Yes I hope to be a journalist for 60 minutes when I am older.
    Love Eve

  3. […] I released my last video, on David Warren’s Black Box, the response was […]

  4. Ben Sandilands on 18/12/2012 at 7:54 pm

    David Warren changed flight for the better for everyone who flies in larger airliners.

    Young Australians like Eve can change our country for the better by valuing and recognising the initiatives and inventions made by our unsung heroes, and heroines.

  5. evecogan on 19/12/2012 at 8:39 am

    Thank you very much Ben. I read your news article last night and I tweeted it, as I was so happy.


  6. Paul on 19/12/2012 at 9:36 am

    Dear Eve,

    I, also, was very impressed with the video and research into David Warren. Ben’s article led me to your website. Now, I noticed Ben’s article and your petition is on the ‘Professional Pilot’s Rumour Network’ frequented by many in aviation, not only pilots, but Air Traffic Controllers, Aircraft Engineers, Flight Attendants, Baggage Handlers and many others in the industry. Well done for drawing the attention of many to this story and for drawing up a petition.

  7. evecogan on 20/12/2012 at 8:16 am

    Thank you Mr Paul.

    I found the website you were talking about and I posted a comment.


  8. John Harriott on 22/12/2012 at 7:34 pm

    Eve, Well done.

  9. Andreas Makarewitsch on 06/01/2013 at 10:50 am

    Dear Eve,

    Thankyou for a fresh insight into the QF32 incident.

    Importantly, I commend your petition in trying to get Sir David Warren remembered by having Canberra Airport named in his honour.

    (Pollies and bureaucrats: Do you know about this? Are you listening….please…)

    An interesting thought: Melbourne ‘Tullamareena’ Airport acknowledges a senior man of the Wurundjeri, an Aboriginal people of the Melbourne area; Sydney has the ‘Kingsford Smith International Airport’, paying tribute to ‘Smithy’ (whom we all know about, of course); Perth honours local aviation pioneer Horrie Miller with a roadway leading up to a terminal.

    A few Australian airports remain which could also be used to honour aviation pioneers- flyers AND engineers- but let’s just say, here and now, that Canberra Airport WILL become ‘Canberra Sir David Warren Airport.’

    Well done, young lady, and to those assisting and guiding you.

    Andreas Makarewitsch


  10. evecogan on 12/01/2013 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Andreas

    Thank you for being so enthusiatics about my idea for the David Warren Airport.

    I went to your link and I even watched the ad for TAA (Trans Australia Airline), it had a nice song. I did not even know this airline had existed in Australia.

    By the way David Warren was a “Dr” and in my opinion he definitely should have been a”Sir” but unfortunately he was not. One good thing he did receive was an OA from the Queen.


  11. […] Warren is an amazing man. I hope you watch my video on David Warren and consider voting on my […]

  12. […] course I had hoped he would say that he agreed with me and the 3,000 people who supported me. However I have been talking to so many people and have heard so many opinions and I know that […]

  13. William Vaughn on 03/02/2013 at 3:49 am

    First, I thought it was very well done. I expect you’ll have a promising career in investigative journalism–a dying art which is sorely needed today. Keep up the good work. Here are a few suggestions for future videos.
    1) First consider alternative types of media. My own daughter introduced me to a startling good video entitled “The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”. http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/#/?part=tunnel-creek It uses a combination of video, text and voice narration to tell a complex story–not unlike the complexity of a flight data recorder. This permits you to create links to supplementary material right in the story, so if someone wants to get more technical details, they can simply click. This means that your content can move more quickly and not get bogged down in (interesting to some but not all) niddly details.
    2) Your interviews were marvelous and fearless. Bravo. Next time, I suggest you follow the example of the interviewers on TV. When conducting a one-on-one interview with someone, keep your eyes on the person being interviewed or on your notes–don’t look at the camera unless you’re speaking to the audience.
    3) Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) once said “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” All authors (myself included) tend to be pretty verbose. We like to hear ourselves think, so we tend to write quite a bit to say very little. It takes time to edit and make things concise but it’s time well spent. Consider the IQ of your audience. Most of the people (over half) out there have less than average intelligence so their attention span is short. The other half is really busy so while their attention span is greater, they get distracted by other projects when something is too long. Get the idea?
    4) Every author needs a good editor–one they can trust to keep their voice, their humor and their intellect intact. Your piece was very well done and edited but consider that an author (or filmographer) does not make the best editor of their own work.

    I enjoyed your film and I hope you add me to the list to see your others. I expect you’ll be walking across the stage at the Oscar ceremonies in a few years. I would love a ticket! ;)
    I hope you enjoy The Owl Wrangler Trilogy. I just finished the first draft of the third book Truth Awakens. It should be out this summer–once it goes through edit and illustration. Good luck… Bill

  14. evecogan on 03/02/2013 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Mr Vaughn

    Thank you for your comments and advice. I will answer all your points.

    1. I watched the videos and read about the avalache. I liked how when you read down the nytimes page, things pop out on the image and give you a chance to see more information, like which skier was riding where.

    I also saw this video explaining how the snow built up, I don’t think my video skills are good enough to do this type of work yet.

    2. Good point. Next time when I am editing, I will edit out if I am looking at my paper.

    3. I was always trying to make my video shorter. The first version was 45 minutes, then 35 minutes and each version got shorter. My last version was only 15 minutes.

    4. I got lots of feedback on my versions, but I did all the editing which took weeks. I don’t think anyone would want to do this for me.

    I will look at your book soon. I saw there was a sample chapter.

    Thank you


  15. Stuart Rae on 07/02/2013 at 2:10 pm

    Hi Eve
    Well done on advocating for appropriate recognition of David Warren. You have shown great determination taking your cause this far and generating discussion, awareness and even a response from the MD of Canberra airport. His concerns around negative connotations of the black box are a bit ‘glass half empty’ given you can equally perceive the black box as a pioneering development in air safety. I would take some inspiration from David’s story itself, you might just need to get the right person to listen to you – there will always be naysayers. You might already be aware but if not there is a Canberra Airport Community Consultation group that may be a useful ally? The chairman’s details are on the Canberra airport website in the meeting notes in case you want to reach out to him…

    FYI, my 10 year old Daughter is impressed with your work and has got most of her year 6 class to sign your petition – Good Luck!


  16. Jon Coppelman on 12/02/2013 at 1:28 am

    Hi, Eve –

    Greetings from Wellesley, Massachusetts, currently buried under 30″ of snow. (Your weather is quite the opposite, I believe.)

    Your dad and I exchanged emails months ago, when you were doing the research for your video. I had written a blog on David Warren at the above website, but after viewing your wonderful video, I hardly dare peak back at what I wrote.

    I am very impressed by your reporting skills, your self confidence on camera and your sense of direction in your career. That’s a lot of accomplishment in 10 years! (I have two daughters in college who are just beginning to figure out their career paths.)

    Finally, I truly appreciate your giving your dad credit as the production driver. We dads do our best to help our daughters achieve their potential. You are well on your way! I’ll being looking for your by-line in the years to come.

    Best wishes –


  17. Peter on 29/05/2013 at 7:43 am

    Hello Eve,
    same as you I am also a big fan of Aircrash Investigations which is probably why I’ve found your interview with Captain Richard De Crespigny on Youtube.

    Just stopped by to let you know how much impressed I was with the interview as well as with your black box documentary. At first I was quite sceptical how can a 10 year old girl do an interview with A380 pilot but I was wrong. The information value you presented was excellent, I doubt many professionals could actually do any better in that department. The interview made me want to buy the QF32 book :) so I might look for it. Wish I could join your petition but it probably wouldn’t be appriopriate for someone living outside of Australia…

    Anyways, best luck to you and many quality documentaries to follow.

  18. […] made my video on the life story of David Warren. I care deeply that Dr David Warren should be a household name in Australia, if not the whole […]

  19. […] year in Year 5 I produced David Warren’s Black Box video. I was lucky to receive a “Highly Commended” award. I also have 4,200 views on YouTube which […]

  20. […] of you will remember that I created a documentary about David Warren and his Black Box. Over 3,000 people signed a petition agreeing with me, that David Warren’s should be […]

  21. […] for an interview. My sister Eve made this much easier than I expected. Eve had tried to get Dick to sign her petition to rename the “Canberra Airport” to “The David Warren Airport”. As luck would have it, Eve still had his mobile phone […]

  22. […] The Southern Cloud’s fate remained a mystery for some 27 years until the 26 October 1958. A worker Tom Sonter, on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme was on a Sunday bush walk when he discovered some wreckage of something that certainly appeared to be a plane. By the end of the day, Tom had discovered that the mountains had finally given up their 27 years old secret! The investigation however, was not conclusive primarily because it was before the days of Black Boxes. […]

  23. Andreas Makarewitsch on 04/12/2017 at 5:09 pm

    For interest:

    Ben Sandilands, who responded to Eve on 18 December 2012, died in late October (2017). Numerous tributes acknowledge his expertise in numerous fields, but especially in aviation.


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