Wings Over Hawke’s Bay

Wings over Hawke’s Bay


February 1964

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Page One


On behalf of the Hawke’s Bay Airport Authority I extend a most cordial welcome to our Opening Function and Air Show. The exciting history of the Airport is well told in the pages of this commemorative booklet.

The opening of the Airport is not only a milestone in the history of aviation in Hawke’s Bay, but the events leading up to this opening ceremony have been the means of more firmly uniting the local authorities of this district.

After the battle of sites was concluded, and the Airport Authority formed the members have worked in complete harmony, and an airport worthy of Hawke’s Bay is being established.

We welcome most enthusiastically Air Marshall Sir Hector McGregor – one of Hawke’s Bay’s most famous sons – who has flown from Singapore specially to perform this opening ceremony.

To all operators, aero clubs, firms and organisations who are assisting in the Air Show, and to the Royal New Zealand Air Force and officials of Civil Aviation, I extend the most grateful thanks of the Authority.

To all who use this airport, may you have a safe and happy journey.

Chairman, Hawke’s Bay Airport Authority

This booklet has been produced for the Hawke’s Bay Airport Authority by the H.B. Publishing Co. Ltd., Editor H. D. Hanger, and printed by Swailes Printing Co. Ltd., Napier.

Now You are only 55 minutes from the Heart of N.Z.

You’re only minutes from the heart of New Zealand. First, of course, you’re in the Capital City. You’re also only minutes from Parliament Buildings, the seat of government. Wellington, too, is the centre for business . . . for head offices, departments, legations, embassies.

Mind you, there’s sport, culture and scenery as well. All we remind you of is this: you’re only 55 minutes from Wellington airport. And once you arrive at our airport you’re only minutes from wherever you want to go in the Capital.

For information on Wellington, write to Public Relations Office — PO. Box 2199 WELLINGTON

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This booklet which commemorates the opening of Hawke’s Bay’s first airport on 15th February, 1964, honours those men of the province whose vision and energy – sustained through almost half a century – has given us today an air service as modern as any in New Zealand. The jet-prop Fokker Friendships which will fly the Hawke’s Bay route incorporate twenty-five years more of aviation know-how than the superlative Douglas DC3’s which have served us since the war, and with their introduction the East Coast has tapped the jet-stream of the world’s airways.

This great advance in commercial transport in recent years has come about through the efforts of men in public life (with Government assistance) but the true foundations of the Hawke’s Bay Airport were laid by men whose courage and foresight moved them to see the accomplishments of the future rather than the impediments of the present.

The first three decades of the century saw many individual attempts to build and fly aircraft, but it was not until the late ’twenties that the formation of aero clubs with suitable machines directed the flow of enthusiasm into well-governed groups whose pilots, well trained in airmanship, supplied not a few of New Zealand’s airline pilots and, with the beginning of World War II, helped fill the vital nucleus of her Air Force administration, ground staff, and aircrews.

Today our aero clubs play an important part in New Zealand’s aviation life, operating such services as special charter flights and air ambulances, but their main work is still the training of young men as pilots who, well grounded in the traditions of club discipline, efficiency and esprit de corps are ready to fulfil the exacting demands required of those who fill the positions offered by commercial aviation. In fact, aero clubs were the only organisations apart from the R.N.Z.A.F. to offer such facilities.

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At Haumoana in 1915 “Tye” Husheer began building himself a flying machine. The plans, taken from a boy’s magazine, showed a design commendable for simplicity rather than technical ingenuity. Two wings, one above the other, a bare frame fuselage, and a tailplane completed the craft. A space was left uncovered in the centre of the bottom mainplane and here the pilot inserted himself, used his legs as the undercarriage in a sprinting down-hill take-off and, once airborne, with judicious adjustments of the swinging lower half of his body, kept the proper balance of the glider.

Guided by the Walsh Brothers of Auckland, who were friends of the family, the lad finished the job in about fifteen months and was gratified to find, within the limits set by its design, the aircraft flew quite well.

The Husheer family had left Germany to settle in New Zealand in 1911 to pioneer the tobacco industry, and after experiments at Paki Paki a company was formed to grow tobacco at Haumoana. Although technically enemy aliens during the 1914-18 war, the Husheers were accepted as bona fide settlers by the authorities and not saddled with onerous restrictions.

But on account of reports in 1916 of unusual intermittent lights seen in the Bay from the direction of the tobacco farm, the police were instructed to investigate the inference that signals were being sent out to sea from the Husheer’s farm.

The enquiry revealed no evidence of espionage (it was never seriously thought it would) but the police, without recognising it for what it was, noticed the glider stored in an empty curing shed. Tye was called and questioned about it and, after the possibilities were weightily considered, was ordered to destroy the machine. No reason was offered for this verdict and although it was a bitter disappointment for a boy of 17, maturer reflection must conclude that no other aircraft, before or since, has had such a high performance potential as was inferred by the official action taken.

Founder of Napier Aero Club

Tye Husheer’s personality again emerged in the mid-war years when, ably partnered by Arnold Wright, he helped mould the Napier Aero Club into an active and useful civic embellishment. This period marked the apex of his efforts and is a time he can look back upon with pride and satisfaction, his only regret being the abrupt decline of civil aviation with the beginning of the last war.

With the resurgence of gliding in 1957 he again supported the movement and was elected to the committee, his experience proving invaluable during the difficult early years preceding the firm establishment of the club.

In 1962 Tye Husheer retired from active participation in club affairs and in recognition of his services to aviation and gliding was made a life member of the Hawke’s Bay Gliding Club.

To date, he is the only person to hold this honour, and if his record has set the qualifying criterion, he will remain so for a long time.

Photo caption – Photography in 1916 was not perhaps quite as good as it is today, but few reproductions in this booklet have as much historical value as this photograph of “Tye” Husheer and his home-made glider. “Tye” was the first man to “get off the ground” in Hawke’s Bay and he is as responsible as anyone else for today’s Hawke’s Bay Airport being where it is.


It is worth remembering that the Hawke’s Bay Airport is built in an area that was once considered suitable for a seaplane base, and that thirty years ago the Inner Harbour, as it was called, attracted many a boatman with its broad, well-sheltered waters.

Basically, the present airport owes its existence to two things – dedication and an earthquake.

It may be felt that these two points are given in the wrong order, but it is safe to assume that had the present land never been lifted from the sea bed the work would have gone on elsewhere as, already in 1929 a group of young men whose enthusiasm had been triggered off by a visit by air from the late George Bolt, had begun clearing a site for an airfield at Riverbend Road and constructing a glider, at the same place, in a shed that had housed the Hawkins and Ogilvie pioneer ’plane of 1907.

Formed 1930

The club, of 27 members, was formed in 1930, and Messrs. T. P. Husheer, A. Wright, W. Haxton and C. Strumple were elected to the committee.
The earthquake of February 1931 destroyed the club’s assets, and concurrent personal problems forced it into recess for several months until it was re-formed with the original executive whose ranks were swelled by Messrs. E. H. Stewart, Neville Harston, Jack Tattersal, Les Limerick and Mr. Percy Spiller, secretary of the Napier 30,000 Club who became the Aero Club’s first hon. secretary; a man whose ability and character is honoured still in Napier today.

“An Airport for Napier”

From the start the slogan of the club had been “An Airport for Napier”, and with the new beginning the first move was to press for the setting aside by the local governing body of an area of ground for this purpose. Without waiting for this to be done, the club in 1932 got its own lease from the Napier Harbour Board of 105 acres which was a part of the old sea bed situated in the angle formed by the Embankment and Hyderabad Road. The surface was soft, quartered by channels, and studded with seashells.

Work began immediately on levelling, draining and roading. At the same time a hangar was got under way and the building of a glider begun. Material and equipment was begged or borrowed from whatever sympathetic source could be found, and club officials of the time still praise the heart-warming response of the citizens of Napier, who, despite the hard times, were always willing to back the club when called upon for help.

Incomplete records show that by 1935 a total of more than 2500 recorded hours had

Photo caption – Taken in 1933, this photograph shows a Napier Aero Club dual-seater glider being towed aloft with instructor and pupil, from the old “Embankment” Aerodrome. This was the aerodrome prepared by the Napier club immediately after the 1931 earthquake and which was used by the East Coast Airways, forerunner of Union Airways and N.A.C.

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TO THE MOON … and back… three times. Or 64 times Auckland—London and return… or 4,100 hours… the longest time between overhauls for any turbojet engine. This is now the overhaul life of Rolls Royce Avon engines in B.O.A.C.’s Comet aircraft operating on AeroShell Turbine Oil 750.

Page Seven

been spent on the work, and this is estimated at less than half the actual time given.

1935 was a remarkable year for the club. In that year, on 15th April, the East Coast Airways service to Gisborne was inaugurated with Napier (because of its airfield) as the southern terminal. This service has continued until the present day with, however, two changes in ownership – first to Union Airways, and then to N.A.C. Facilities offered at this date to powered aircraft included two hangars, maintenance gear for the airport area, two petrol pumps, and a meteorological section to report local weather conditions. A caretaker was also employed to look after the field and service visiting machines. Water, electricity, and gas were laid on.

Napier Airport Board formed 1935

In this year also, at the instigation of the club, the Napier Airport Board – the second in the Dominion – was set up by an Act of Parliament, and the airport was handed over to the people of Napier.

Later, on the advice of the civil aviation authorities, the board, which was made up of representatives from the Napier Borough Council, the Aero Club, and a Government Deputy, decided to raise the rating of the aerodrome.

“The Beacons”

While this work was being done an alternative landing ground had to be found and as for some time it had been known that the Beacons area, although shell-strewn and covered with a rank growth of salt weed, was suitable in an emergency and had in fact been used as such by an East Coast Airways machine piloted by R. A. Kirkup who had arrived to find the Embankment airport closed by fog, the Beacons was selected. The area too, was virtually fog-free and clear of immediate hills. An old tram was taken out to the temporary airfield and set up as an office, and club members again buckled to and cleared the surface until it was fit for use.

With the rapid growth of aviation and the advent of larger, faster aircraft, it became apparent to the board that the Beacons offered better prospects for the future than the already established Embankment, and the decision was made – following the advice of the aviation authorities – to retain the former as the main field.

Many famous fliers visited Napier during the inter-war period and praised the club for its spirit and its airport. Among these were Jean Batten, Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, Charles Ulm, and George Bolt.

In the opening months of the second world war the board and the Aero Club went into recess and their members, who had contributed so much to Napier’s prominence in New Zealand flying circles, yet had never owned a powered machine of their own, were dispersed by the strong currents of world events.

The modern bitumen runway which is Hawke’s Bay’s threshold to the world, rests on a foundation of selfless endeavour and service.

Photo captions –

Very little is known of the fate of this machine and some doubt exists as to whether it was intended to become a powered machine or a glider. However it depicts the ingenuity of the early pioneers. Manufacturer and would-be pilot was a Mr. O’Brien of Taradale.

Below: In sharp contrast are the sleek lines of today’s glider. Here, Heretaunga Glider Club members carry out maintenance work at the recently held Masterton glider championships.
Photo by Dael Thekleson [Therkelson]

Morrison manufacture the versatile Morrison ‘Multi-Hoe’. Morrison manufacture nine bicycle brands to the specifications of Raleigh Industries Ltd., Nottingham. Morrison manufacture a range of 6 rotary mowers. Morrison manufacture a range of 7 reel mowers from 14 to 32 inch. Morrison manufacture a range of ‘Morrison – Harter’ chairs. Morrison manufacture the stainless steel Agee preserving units.
THIS IS THE HOME OF Breaking with tradition . . . believing industrial diversification to be the greatest contribution to New Zealand’s much needed secondary industry, Morrisons, in Hastings, heart of the Hawkes Bay, have recently completed the country’s most modern motor mower plant. Set against towering poplars, surrounded by the country’s richest fruit growing land, this plant has re-organised and expanded to become the first in New Zealand to manufacture bicycles. Today, in addition to motor mowers that meet and surpass the demands of the world’s most critical market, Morrison has the capacity to meet the bicycle requirements of New Zealanders with a product acclaimed by world experts to be world class. Morrison, on the move, New Zealanders making more for New Zealand.
New Plant-New Area-New opportunities for New Zealanders
Morrison Industries Limited

An occasion that excited great interest all over New Zealand was the arrival of the famous Kingsford Smith in his three- engined “Southern Cross” after he had completed his epic-making Australia to New Zealand crossing.

Above left: The “Southern Cross” is seen during a demonstration flight over the “Embankment” aerodrome. In left background is “Pandora” Point, Napier, and on right can clearly be seen a section of the Embankment Road leading south into Napier.

Left: Taken 30 years ago this photo shows from left, Lord Bledisloe, the then Governor General, W. E. Barnard, M.P. for Napier, Kingsford Smith, and Lady Bledisloe.
A. B. Hurst photos

Below: An early aerial shot of Napier, taken shortly after the earthquake. Outlined upper left are the two aerodromes which Napier had at that time. One was one mile from the Post Office, and the other four miles. In centre foreground is Georges Drive, and at extreme left is a section of Riverbend Road.
Photo by courtesy of Arnold Wright

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In the latter half of the 1920’s aero clubs began to be established in New Zealand and among the first to be incorporated was the Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club which commenced its flying activities from Simons Paddock – a field 375 yards by 175 yards – at the corner of Pakowhai and Longlands roads. In the spring of 1928 a number of Hastings enthusiasts tackled the problems of forming a club, and, with the help of Captain (later Group Captain) “Tiny” White who arrived on the scene to foster and direct this enthusiasm, several of the members formed themselves into a limited company and found sufficient money from their own resources to buy the first D.H.60

Photo captions –

Group Captain T. W. (Tiny) White – the man who, in 1928, heard that a group of flying enthusiasts were considering starting a club in Hastings and promptly made himself available as instructor. It is to this man the Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club owes its early success. “Tiny” White later became Chief Pilot for the East Coast Airways Ltd.
Photo by Whites Aviation Ltd.

Mr. R. D. Brown (left) was a keen supporter of the Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club and was its first Secretary, only recently retiring from this position. Another well known figure in Hawke’s Bay aviation was Mr. A. G. Gerrand, early club instructor (far left).
Photos by Whites Aviation Ltd.

Below: The first registered Aero Club aircraft to fly in New Zealand — ZK-AAB, a Cirrus Moth was purchased by the Hastings Club early in 1929. Standing beside the Moth is Mr. Guy Field, one of the first Hawke’s Bay men to fly powered aircraft.
Photo by courtesy of N.Z. Aerial Mapping

Page Eleven

Cirrus-powered Gipsy Moth to be brought into the country by the De Havilland representative, F. D. Mills of Auckland. Once assured of an aircraft, the club erected a small hangar. The three essentials were thus established an – aircraft, a field and a hangar.

Second Club By One Day

It can be fairly said that “Tiny” White, having once arrived, was responsible more than anyone else, for the successful setting up of the club which was the second, by a day only, to be incorporated in New Zealand, while its first machine, ZK-AAB, although the second to be registered in the country, was actually the first registered aircraft to be flown in New Zealand.

It was “Tiny” White also who, between January 23rd and 13th February, 1929, attended an instructors’ course at Wigram. Flying training of the club’s pupils began just five days after his return on the 17th February, the first to take instructions being Mr. Geoffrey Field, and the first lady pupil was Mrs. R. Porter. The first Hawke’s Bay man to fly solo during this training course was Mr. G. G. Stead when, on April 14th, 1929, he was given the green light to try on his own by Tiny White. Mr. Stead is at present a senior captain with B.O.A.C.

The first air pageant in Hawke’s Bay was held at the Longlands aerodrome on 27th April, 1929, and was recorded as “wonderfully satisfactory” both from the financial and entertainment viewpoints.

At its inception the Club’s allotted territory covered the area between East Cape in the north and Porangahau in the south (including Taupo) bounded on the west by the main range. With the addition of two more machines, a Spartan, ZK-AAY, purchased in October 1929, and ZK-ABC, a Government grant De Havilland Moth purchased early in 1930, club instructors trained pilots from all parts of the Bay, using fields at Gisborne, Napier, and Waipukurau.

Art Union Grant

Two calamities, the ’quake and the slump, strained the resources of the young organisation but it carried on until an Art Union grant enabled it to acquire its present Bridge Pa site and to erect its hangar and clubhouse which is its headquarters today.

Time passes quickly and memory is short, but such names as “Tiny” White, the Field brothers, Chambers, Newbigin, Baker, Stead, Nicholls, Pallow, Gerrand and R. D. Brown, the club’s first secretary and who only recently resigned, will be remembered as typifying the spirit of all those whose work through the years has kept Hawke’s Bay abreast of the times in aviation.

Photo caption – A line-up of aircraft which operated from the Bridge Pa Aerodrome in the early days of the Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club. In the background is the first clubhouse built by the club and which still serves the same purpose today. On the extreme left is the Monospar, operated by New Zealand Aerial Mapping Ltd. of Hastings. Note the difference between the three Moth aircraft. ZK-AAB on left, the first bought, has the Cirrus engine, while ZK-ADK and ZK-ACP have the later closed-in engine. The Moth on right was the first closed- in cabin aircraft owned by the club.
Photo by courtesy of N.Z. Aerial Mapping

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It is not generally known that Dannevirke in the ’thirties was the centre of the gliding movement in New Zealand. Through the initiative of the Dannevirke Gliding Club delegates from the principle gliding clubs in the North Island met and formed the New Zealand Gliding Association at Dannevirke in October 1931. Lord Bledisloe, the Governor-General, was elected Patron, and Squadron Leader T. Wilkes, President. Vice-presidents were Sir Francis Boyes (Christchurch), Sir Cecil Leys (Auckland), Sir Henry Wigram (Christchurch), and Mr. M. H. Oram (Palmerston North). Executive, Dr. C. S. Williams, Messrs. E. R. Perkins and E. C. Dearman (Dannevirke), and L. C. David (Hastings). Secretary and Treasurer was Major A. R. C. Claridge (Dannevirke),

Commercial Enterprise

In the early ’thirties Messrs. Perkins, Willicombe, Howarth, Claridge, Dryden, Webber, Atkinson and Dearman established the Dominion Aircraft Company at Dannevirke. As well as dealing in all types of flying gear and aircraft materials, the company produced gliders which were ordered by places as far apart as Kaitaia and Masterton. The Kaitaia order, which was shipped by rail in a special wagon brought up from Wellington and delivered at a point 40 miles past the most northern railway station, cost the company a mere £2/14/- freight. The Masterton machine cost 7/4 to deliver, again by special wagon brought up from Wellington. At this point the railway department brought in a minimum rate of £10 for this type of goods, having hitherto based their charges on weight.

The company also produced model aircraft kit-sets and imported their own balsa wood supplies direct from Equador. They were at one time approached by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith to repair the wing of the “Southern Cross” which had been damaged at Palmerston North but, as the wing was too cumbersome to be transported through the Gorge and facilities were unavailable at Palmerston, the job could not be accepted. As with many other promising businesses of the time, the depression forced the venture to close.

Photo captions –

Above: Dannevirke club members inspect one of their early gliders which is a far cry from (below) the modern sleek aircraft operated today.

Pictured here is a Heretaunga Club glider. Lower
photo by Dael Thirkleson [Therkelson]

A Dominion Aircraft Company aircraft in the making at Dannevirke. This company was one of the early aircraft manufacturers to set up business in New Zealand. The car and mode of dress worn by the men in the background give a fair indication of the times in which this photograph was taken.
Photo by courtesy of ‘‘Tye’’ Husheer

Page Thirteen


Beacons aerodrome, owned and administered by the Napier City Council, had been used by commercial airlines since before the war, and up until 1959 was generally considered as being the permanent commercial airport for the Hawke’s Bay area. However, early in 1959 the opinion was expressed that a more central site should be sought and it was in April of that year that the department of Civil Aviation informed the then Mayors of both Hastings and Napier that it favoured a site midway between the two cities.

Investigations were set in motion by the department and the Ministry of Works with district local bodies, Chambers of Commerce, and other interested bodies, taking sides on the issue with the result that a lively and voluble controversy ensued.

Financial Considerations

From information available it seems that the financial aspects of purchasing and forming a new site up to the stage of development that then existed at the Beacons aerodrome tipped the scales in favour of the latter, and on October 5th, 1960, the then Labour Cabinet announced that it had approved in principle the full development of the Beacons as the airport for Hawke’s Bay.

The Napier City Council immediately took steps to appoint an Airport Authority, inviting all local bodies in Hawke’s Bay to be represented at a meeting called for the purpose. The issue of a site was not yet fully settled however, for during the remainder of 1960 and early 1961, controversy on the merits of alternative sites still flared up, even though the then Prime Minister, the Hon. Walter Nash, announced on the eve of the 1960 Parliamentary elections (November 25th), that Cabinet had decided on the Beacons site.

Change of Government

Following the change of government at this election fresh efforts were made to vary the decision of the Labour Government and in early February, 1961, the Minister of Civil Aviation, the Hon. Mr. McAlpine, visited Hawke’s Bay and inspected the various alternative sites suggested by the several factions in the controversy, in an attempt to settle the matter one way or another.

However, as local feelings were running high at the time, it was deemed expedient by Cabinet that an independent Committee of Enquiry be set up to investigate and recommend to Government the most suitable site available in the light of all evidence placed before it. The members of this committee were Sir Jack Harris, Wellington (chairman); Mr. H. B. Smith, a former Commissioner of Transport; and Mr. E. A. Gibson, Aeronautical Consultant and former Director of Civil Aviation.

Opened Hearing, May 15th, 1961

Unavoidable circumstances delayed the opening of the Committee of Enquiry until May 15th, when, at Hastings, submissions were invited from all interested bodies. On May 17th the committee moved to Napier and followed the same procedure.

After hearing all the evidence placed before it the commission eventually announced that it would recommend the Beacons site as that being most suitable for the establishment of a Hawke’s Bay Airport. All parties in the dispute agreed to abide by the decision, with the Hastings City Council laying down a number of conditions which were accepted by the Minister concerned.

50% Government Subsidy

Recommendations were also made through the commission that the airport be developed up to a sufficient standard to carry jet-prop Friendship aircraft, and in this regard the Minister of Finance announced in Napier on May 19th, 1961, that the Government would provide a subsidy of 50% towards the development costs.

Cabinet finally adopted the report of the Committee of Enquiry on June 21st that year, and a month later representatives of the five local bodies in Hawke’s Bay met and agreed to the setting up of an interim Committee, the forerunner of today’s Hawke’s Bay Airport Authority. This authority consists of representatives from the Napier City Council, Hawke’s Bay County Council, Hastings City Council, Taradale Borough Council, and Havelock North Borough Council.

Page Fourteen

A short thought from a long.
We feel a little off the ground ourselves about the opening of Hawke’s Bay’s own airport.
It’s the hand of achievement that makes us want to congratulate and toast everyone around our sunny shores. However, one thing we’d like to mention. With this major step forward, we, at Leopard say…

Page Fifteen


CHAIRMAN: P.  TAIT (Mayor of Napier)

NAPIER CITY COUNCIL W. L. Atherfold, P. D. Cox
H.B. COUNTY COUNCIL R. A. Nimon (Chairman), D. L. Holt
HASTINGS CITY COUNCIL R. V. Giorgi (Mayor), H. R. Bannister

Runway, Parking Area, Terminal Building   £400,000
Crown ‘Subsidy of 50%   £200,000

Remaining £200,000 divided as follows:
Napier City Council   45.8%
Hawke’s Bay County Council   25.0%
Hastings City Council   21.4%
Taradale Borough Council   4.2%
Havelock North Borough Council   3.6%

The Hawke’s Bay Airport is situated at Westshore within a 500-acre area with a Sealed airstrip 4500’ x 150’ and a grass cross runway. Provision has been made for future extension to 5600 ft. to accommodate Viscount or equivalent types of aircraft if or when required.

Photo caption – The Airport Authority was at the new airport to greet the inaugural “Friendship” flight on December 15th, 1963.

From left: D. L. Holt, R. V. Giorgi, P. Tait, W. L. Atherfold, H. R. Bannister, P. D. Cox, R. J. Nilsson, and A. W. Miller. Absent: R. A. Nimon

Page Sixteen

Downer & Co. Ltd. have been associated with the construction of the ten Airports shown. In six, they have been the major contractors. Airports
Whenuapai, Auckland (A) Hamilton (B) Whakatane (C) Wanganui (D) Napier (E) Palmerston North (F) Nelson (G) Paraparaumu, Wellington (H) Rongotai, Wellington (I) Momona, Dunedin (J)
Downer & Company Limited Head Office: 168 The Terrace, Wellington

Page Seventeen

A £400,000 PROJECT


The construction of the new Hawke’s Bay Airport was officially inaugurated on December 11th, 1962, when the contract for the new sealed runway and ancillary works was awarded to one of New Zealand’s largest earthmoving and roading construction companies, Downer and Company Limited of Wellington.

The Hawke’s Bay Airport became the tenth major airport that Downers have been associated with over the past twenty-five years, and they therefore came to Hawke’s Bay with a proud record of achievement behind them in this respect.

When the contract was awarded, the year 1962 was drawing to a close and 1963 arrived with little sign of activity at the site. However, by December 19th, 1962, three large rubber-tyred motor scrapers and one heavy crawler tractor had been loaded on to the U.S.S. “Wairemu” in Dunedin and over the festive season this vessel, with its heavy cargo, moved towards the Port of Napier where these machines were finally unloaded on January 7th.

Commenced January 19th, 1963

Work commenced on January 19th and for the remainder of the month was confined to earthmoving operations at the southern end of the field. Much of this work was connected with the excavation of the open drains that now lead deep into the airfield and which control the inexorable movement of sea water that seeps through the Westshore shingle. Basic earthworks were carried out in filling and shaping both ends of the temporary runway, and the removal of a shingle island at the south end of the existing airfield was commenced.

Photo caption – Of early importance in the development on the Hawke’s Bay Airport at the “Beacons”, just north of Napier, was the digging of the deep open drains to carry off the sea seepage.

JOHN FRASER & SONS, CONTRACTORS LTD. Omahu Road, Hastings – Telephone 89-196 – PO Box 428
No Job Too Small – No Job Too Large

Photo captions –

“Big John” capable of hauling a 34-ton payload is here seen transporting one of Downer & Co.’s 21-ton giants.

Two Case W9A Front-end Loaders at work on the excavation of the new Apple & Pear Board Building, William Street, Hastings.

Machines from all over N.Z.

In this period, apart from the four machines brought from Dunedin, another H.D.21 crawler tractor was brought from the Manawatu flood control project at Foxton, an H.D.16 crawler tractor from the Maungaraki sub-division at Lower Hutt, and a further H.D.6 crawler tractor, ex the Whakatane Airport, was brought from the Kimihia open-cast coal mine at Huntly. A 50-ton Hamilton roller was brought from the Hutt Motorway project in Wellington, a 22 R.B. ¾-yd. dragline from the Murupara shingle plant and a 33 R.B. 1¼-yd. dragline from the Morrison Knudson – Downer – Fletcher joint venture operations on the Tasman Pulp and Paper Company’s mill at Kawerau. In addition the soil cement stabilisation unit was brought from Wellington.

Pug and Marine Mud a Problem

February saw a step up in the work tempo and work on the southern end of the runway well advanced. Starting from the pump-house by the Ahuriri Lagoon over 1½ miles of open drain were excavated. A troublesome area of pug and marine mud at the southern extremity of the sealed runway was removed. This material was particularly difficult and the big machines wallowed in it rather like elephants in a blowhole. At one stage three machines were bogged fast for a period of nearly a day and a-half. The laying of some 9000 lin.ft. of 12”, 15” and 18” diameter stormwater pipes for the main runway underground drainage system was well under way by the end of the month and some 100,000 cubic yards of material were by then shifted in the course of the general earthworks.

The end of March signalled another good month’s progress. Work was still confined to the southern half of the new runway and aircraft continued to use the original two grass runways, the full length main strip and the shorter cross wind east-west runways. During the month the underground stormwater system was completed throughout the southern area and the foundation for the runway pavement completed over the southern half of the new strip. The shoulders were also brought up to level on either side at the south end and the open drain completed to its full extent through to the heart of the aerodrome on the east side. The temporary runway was also completed preparatory to closing the two grass runways.

One-wing Take-off

On April Ist the temporary runway was inaugurated in spectacular fashion when an unknown topdressing pilot made a spectacular one-wheel, one-wing-tip, skewed take off just

Photo captions –

Extra large draglines were brought in to excavate the long open drains skirting the airstrip. “Daily Telegraph’’ photo

Airstrip surface-water slot drains, positioned down both sides of the strip proper, being laid in position by the drainage gang. These slotted pipes were later concreted into position. It takes a sharp eye to pick out these drains when seated in-an aircraft on the airstrip.
“Daily Telegraph’’ photo

Page Twenty

after daybreak. The way was then cleared to open up the new runway along its entire length. By the end of the month the pavement foundation area was complete from end to end along the main runway and the completion of the underground stormwater system was comfortably in sight. Slot drain construction commenced during the latter stages of the month. These drains consist of a hollow concrete 18” square section flush with the finished surface of the runway. The slot drains run along either edge of the sealed surface. A continuous vertical slot 2” wide connects the top surface to the 6” diameter hollow core. Rainwater is shed off the crowned runway to the sides where it drops into the slots which are connected to the underground stormwater drains. These drains in their turn run parallel to the main runway and then discharge into the open drains by means of outfall drains spaced 1500 feet apart.

By the end of April the construction of the two foot thick runway pavement layer was well advanced with the first twelve inches complete over 40% of the area.

Stabilising Foundation

Against the normal run of statistics the weather stayed surprisingly fine throughout all of May and the work continued to make outstanding progress. This month saw the bottom twelve-inch pavement layer completed and a healthy start made on the first of the two cement stabilised layers. The bottom cement stabilised layer is only four inches thick and contains a relatively small amount of cement – 2% by volume and less than one-tenth of that which is found in a normal concrete mix. Nevertheless this quantity of cement was sufficient to transform the gravel mixture into a solid durable strata, inviolate to the effect of weather. The technique used was quite a straightforward one. The area to be treated was first shaped and compacted to form a true, firm surface. Then the correct amount of cement was deposited over the surface from a cement spreader. Next the whole layer was pulverised to depth by towing a piece of machinery through it that functioned like a giant rotary hoe. This machine has a heavy steel shaft with 44 arms carrying specially hardened steel hammers. The shaft rotates at speed and is lowered into the ground. A steel hood over the shaft prevents stones and gravel from flying wildly and confines the action to the area being treated. At the same time water is sprayed in to moisten the mixture and to bring it into a suitable state for final compaction. After the passage of the stabiliser, as this machine is

Subcontractor to Downer & Co.
on the
Specialists in
We will quote on your
Contact us at
205 N. Park Road – Hastings
Telephone 84-117

(Airport Construction Sub-contractors)
Prompt and Efficient Service
in all forms of Cartage
Telephone 7496
Write P.O. Box 16
or call at
66 Wellesley Road, Napier

Page Twenty-one

called, the materials are left in an aerated, fluffed-up state. At this point the compacting equipment is brought in, comprising of both vibrating and rubber-tyred rollers, and they roll the cement treated pavement until it is hammered down to a solid, rigid state. The surface was then kept moist for seven days while the cement reacted and the mixture hardened.

Ahead of Schedule

By the end of May the whole project was ahead of schedule with the slot drains well advanced along the runway and the underground stormwater system virtually complete.

The way seemed clear for a grandstand finish and the prospect of completion well ahead of schedule appeared to be almost a certainty.

The Heavens Opened Up

But at this point nemesis stepped in and fortune, which up till then had been so much on the side of the contractors, made an abrupt about-face. The long delayed rains commenced to fall, and fall they did continuously for four days. Only the main runway stood aloof and clear of the floodwater. An estimated 16 inches of rain fell, and slowly and inexorably the whole site indeed the whole of the Ahuriri Lagoon Farm area – disappeared under a continuous sheet of water, only the main runway remaining clear of water. Retribution for almost five months of near-drought conditions was swift and sure and the future outlook looked grim.

And grim it stayed for the next two months. Rain fell at almost regular intervals and kept the site in a continuously water-logged state. The temporary runway was unfit for use during most of this time and heavy plant remained idle in the wait for drier conditions. Despite the weather, drainage gangs headed by Fred “Digger” Greer, cheerful chirpy Lionel Nichols, Algy Williams, Grant Sutherland, Ron Clarke and Ted Clark to name but a few, struggled on under appalling conditions to construct over 5530 lin.ft. of slot drains and to complete the underground drainage system. This left the way clear for a non-stop final assault on the runway for whenever the weather decided to improve. During this period the workshop staff headed by Mike Mayer and Jack Begley made good use of the time in overhauling the heavy machines in readiness for a fresh assault.

August The First Seal Coat

August commenced on an inauspicious note with heavy rain, high winds and frost, and through the month the weather stayed cold but the rain eased and the ground dried out and continued to stay dry. The four-inch cement sub-base layer was completed and material was brought in and blended and shaped for the final six-inch base course layer. This layer, apart from being two inches thicker than the preceding one, had twice the amount of cement – 4 % as opposed to 2% and was correspondingly stronger and harder. Exactly half-way through the month work on the stabilisation process for this final layer was commenced and despite more bad weather the whole runway was stabilised over a 19-day period. Synonymous with this work the sealing sub-contractors, Hawke’s Bay Asphalts, of Hastings, followed behind with the first seal coat and this too was completed a few days after the stabilisation work was completed. Also during the month of August a well-knit team concreted the huge slab in front of the terminal building. This slab

Diagram caption – The cross section drawings of the airstrip and drainage system show how the whole area is built up to stand the weight of modern-day airliners. The slot drains, illustrated at right, are designed to allow aircraft to overrun them without damage to the undercarriage.

Page Twenty-two

Cable-Price Corporation supplied both steel sections and industrial equipment for Napier Airport.
Steel. C.P.C. carry a comprehensive range of reinforcing and structural steel at their Napier Branch in Dunlop Road, Onekawa. Indent enquiries are also welcomed. (One successful recent tender concerned the supply of 500 tons of reinforcing steel for the new Napier Harbour Board Wharf.)
C.P.C. are Hawke’s Bay Agents for Cookes New Zealand Wire Rope Co. Ltd., and carry a wide range of wire ropes and other equipment for the fishing industry, earthmoving and logging contractors and farmers, etc.
Industrial Equipment. Allis-Chalmers tractors and earth scrapers supplied by C.P.C. were used by Downer & Co. Ltd., main contractors for the Napier Airport. Mr. W. G. Lamont (Tel. Napier 39-196) now resident at Napier branch will be glad to deal with industrial equipment enquiries. Servicing for Allis-Chalmers earth moving equipment is now provided by Marshall & Co. Ltd., Earther St., Hastings.
CABLE-PRICE Corporation Ltd
CPD A member of the Cable Price-Downer Group
Head Office: P.O. Box 2293, Wellington
AUCKLAND: P.O. Box 14005, Panmure
Hamilton: P.O. Box 938
ROTORUA: P.O. Box 516
NAPIER: P.O. Box 85
WELLINGTON: P.O. Box 40, Petone

Photo captions –

Allis-Chalmers equipment used on the Airport construction included Tractor Loaders (above) and Motor Scrapers (below).

The C.P.C. Napier Branch at Dunlop Road, Onekawa

Page Twenty-three

is known as the concrete hardstanding. The wheel of fortune had now turned again – after being ahead of schedule, then behind, the project was back into its stride and on schedule once more.

Wet Weather Hampers Progress

The rest of September was something of an anticlimax as efforts to complete the shaping of the runway shoulders in the hope of top-soiling these and sowing them down in grass in the spring were frustrated by further wet weather. The construction of the large area at the end of the taxiway beyond the concrete hardstanding, known as the sealed apron, was delayed when large quantities of unsuitable material had to be removed from under the foundation. However the month ended on a brighter note with 80 underground light bases installed for the runway lighting and the second seal coat, the “big chip” seal, completed by the 1st October. This left the way clear for the application of the third and final seal coat, the plant mix smoothing coat. This acts as a void filler, filling the gaps between the big chips, and also locking them together to yield a smooth solid surface.

1200 Tons of Plant Mix

Accordingly, in the middle of October some 1200 tons of plant mix were hauled from Hawke’s Bay Asphalt’s plant in Hastings and spread over the runway. There, grader-driver Ernie Langley who had been brought over from another Downer project at the Matahina power project in the Bay of Plenty, nonchalantly graded the black top over the runway as if he was a barber giving a distinguished customer a shave. Also in this period the earth-moving plant worked continuously pouring thousands of yards of fill material into the new cross runway and lifting its level well above that of any likely future flood. As October drew to a close however, there was a frantic scramble to instal some two miles of underground cable which had just arrived for the runway lighting. When this was complete, Labour Weekend was spent in tidying up the main runway and then sowing the whole runway shoulder area in a temporary grass mixture as a protection against dust and possible loss of topsoil through wind erosion.

By Tuesday, the 29th October, all was ready, and a National Airways Corporation D.C.3 from Wellington made a rather spectacular first landing on the new sealed runway. Because of very adverse cross winds the touch down was made at a higher speed than usual.

Two Months Ahead of Schedule

This very auspicious occasion meant that the new runway was now in use, almost two months ahead of an amended completion date. However at this point the actual contract was far from complete as work on the taxiway had been put off until the new runway was opened. As the taxiway cut right across the temporary runway the delay in constructing the taxiway meant that the airfield was operational at all times, other than in heavy cross winds, and continuous air services were therefore maintained into Hawke’s Bay as far as was possible.

6000 Feet of Cable

As soon as traffic was diverted to the new runway work was immediately commenced on the taxiway, and by mid-November the taxiway and apron had received their first coat seal. Simultaneously with this work the cross runway was completed across the temporary runway and the whole of the cross runway topsoiled and prepared for temporary grassing. Three more underground refueling hydrants were installed in the old original concrete hardstanding and fuel lines laid over to the B.P. bulk fuel installation. Over 6000 lin.ft. of four-inch communication and lighting ducts were installed around the terminal area and the area along the terminal building frontage was torn up, regraded and then resealed. Areas adjacent to the taxiway, cross runway, sealed apron and concrete hardstanding were reshaped and graded in to form a neat regular surface. On the Napier side of the terminal buildings drainage and other works were put in hand for a new entrance road and car park, and a new signals area and meteorological station were constructed.

December 15th – Friendship lands for 1st time

In the last week of November the marking out of the new runway was commenced and the second seal coat completed on the taxiway. December saw the completion of the final plant mix smoothing coat on the sealed apron, taxiway and terminal areas, and the whole project then stood ready for the inaugural flight of a jet-prop Fokker Friendship aircraft. A train of minor works including ducting, installation of light bases, fencing, general grading and shaping off was still in progress at this time, concurrent with a full programme of works on the entrance road and car park. An extensive grassing programme for the permanent turfing still remains to be implemented, but this work must of course be delayed until the autumn and as such will form a part of the maintenance works.

Page Twenty-four


To carry out the work, Downers assembled a fleet of earthmoving machines and associated plant valued at more than £100,000. In the course of the contract these machines excavated, hauled, re-handled and back-filled a volume somewhat in excess of 600,000 cubic yards of site gravels, muds and silts, or alternatively, shifted something like 1,000,000 tons of material over distances ranging from a few chains to well over a mile. Over the whole contract the machines used 94,000 gallons of diesel, petrol and oil, or sufficient fuel to enable the average car to make 110 round trips of the globe.

Sixty-nine operators, tradesmen and workmen were engaged in the course of the work, though never more than thirty-three at any one time.

£170,000 Spent Locally

Over the whole period of the contract Downers dealt with 64 firms and organisations having headquarters or branches in Hawke’s Bay, and purchased materials, services and spares costing £150,000. Wages and salaries paid out came to a third of this sum. In addition nearly £20,000 was spent in hiring plant and vehicles from local concerns and organisations.

So, whilst the contract cost of the main civil engineering works for the Hawke’s Bay Airport will reach a figure of more than £300,000, the concept of an outside firm taking virtually all of this sum out of the area is completely false. The greater part of the cost involved is, in fact, spent at the scene of the works

A Job to be Proud of

A new sealed runway is now the pride of Hawke’s Bay at the Beacons Airfield.

Associated in the pride are the men and machines of Downer and Company Limited and the staff of the Ministry of Works. The long hours worked from dawn to dusk, six and sometimes seven days a week, have at last borne fruit. All concerned can share with Hawke’s Bay the pride of a job well done, on time, to the highest possible standards and against, in part, unexpected adversities of weather.

The final and happy end result – one can now fly jet prop direct to Sunny Hawke’s Bay!

Opened early last year by the Mayor of Napier, Mr. Peter Tait, Firman’s Service Station in Hyderabad Road, Napier, offers four-lane petrol service, and is considered to be one of the most up-to-date service stations in New Zealand.

Page Twenty-five

This aerial photograph of the H.B. Airport shows the 4500 ft. x 150ft. bituminous surface runway. Added to this is the taxi area. In all, 90,500 square yards which is equivalent to 7 miles of highway.
It is interesting to note that it was necessary to sweep this total area three times to prepare for each successive layer of bitumen. All metal and plant mix was produced on the Hastings premises of H.B. Asphalts Ltd.
90,500 square feet of Runway and Taxi Area
Over 3500 tons of Chips 1500 tons of Plant Mix
Manufactured and Produced by
(Sub-contractors to Downer & Co. Ltd. on all Sealed Surfaces)
Telephone 85-670   P.O. Box 615

Page Twenty-six


On the successful completion of the Hawke’s Bay Airport, the Earthworks Division of Downer & Company Limited, Wellington, acknowledge the service and assistance given by the following concerns and organisations . .

Jas. J. Niven & Co. Ltd., Napier
Hawke’s Bay Asphalts, Hastings
Shell Oil New Zealand Limited, Napier
Hume Industries (N.Z.) Ltd., Hastings
Winstone Cranby Limited, Napier
John Fraser & Sons, Contractors Ltd., Hastings
Reliance Tyre & Rubber Co. Ltd. (Tom Hopcroft & Chick Roydhouse) Napier
Certified Concrete Hawke’s Bay Ltd., Napier
Cable Price Corporation Ltd., Tractor Division Napier and Wellington
Steel Supplies Division, Napier
W. D. Stephens, Earthmoving Contractor, Hastings
R. H. Pettigrew Transport Ltd., Napier
D. & R. McKinnie, Carriers and Contractors, Napier
Robert Holt & Sons Ltd., Napier
Bissell Electric Ltd., Napier
Baillie Motors Ltd., Napier
C. P. Monohan, Builder, Hastings
Len Freeman, Agricultural Contractor, Clive
Dalgety & New Zealand Loan Ltd., Hastings
Napier City Council City Engineer’s Department
Ministry of Works, Napier – Mechanical Division
Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board
N.Z. Post & Telegraph Department, Napier Toll Room and Cable Overseers Department
Land and Survey Department, Ahuriri Lagoon Farm and Napier District Office
G. E. Eagle, Fencer, Napier
H. P. Osborne, Runway Marking, Havelock, North
Mobil Oil New Zealand Ltd., Napier

Whilst many other concerns gave valuable service and assistance the above list has, of necessity, been restricted to those who have been more closely associated with the project over much of the construction period.

Downer & Company Limited Civil
Engineering Contractors
Head Office: 168 The Terrace, Wellington
A member of the Cable Price Downer Group


The Hon. Robert Semple, Minister of Works in the first N.Z. Labour Government, is generally credited with the introduction of the bulldozer to New Zealand.

His name is synonymous with construction in New Zealand and the pictures on this page, taken at the commencement of the Paraparaumu Airport in 1938, which was carried out by Downer & Company Limited, are typical of his keen interest in all construction works.

Left: Above shows the late Mr. Semple with Mr. A. F. Downer, founder of Downer & Company Limited, and (right) keenly interested in the operation of the bulldozer. The lower picture shows a portion of Downer’s first fleet of earthmoving equipment.

Page Twenty-eight

a welcome service
Congratulations to Hawke’s Bay on the opening of the new airport and the link with other centres in New Zealand provided by the Friendship aircraft. The BNZ with over 380 Branches and Agencies throughout the Dominion, also provides a welcome service to Hawke’s Bay citizens. It is New Zealand’s leading bank and its friendly, up-to-the-minute service is yours for the asking.
Bank of New Zealand

Page Twenty-nine


Page Thirty


Aviation today is a complex business. It brings all the challenges of a modern commercial enterprise but tempers them with the exhilaration of an industry which retains a continuing spirit of pioneering.

There is always something new in aviation: new airports, new aircraft; greater speed, and streamlined efficiency.

But aviation’s greatest satisfaction comes from its contact with people. Indeed, the Act which empowers New Zealand National Airways Corporation says that NAC is established “to provide air services to meet the needs of the people of New Zealand”

And NAC carries some 800,000 New Zealanders every year to 23 destinations from Kaitaia to Invercargill. To serve these passengers are 2,000 NAC-people whose tasks and talents require the highest efficiency.

These photo-pages tell something of the story of the people who make the airline. . .

One of the most intricate tasks in NAC is to roster pilots for flying duty. This man ensures that each pilot and hostess flies in accordance with the regulations governing aircrew flying hours.

NAC has nearly 200 pilots, maintains its own training school. Here a senior flight instructor checks a trainee pilot on the flight deck of a DC-3.

Page Thirty-one

Thirty minutes before take-off this hostess walks alone across the tarmac to board her aircraft. She checks cabin arrangements and the buffet to ensure that all is in readiness for the arrival of passengers.

NAC is a world away from aircraft manufacturers. To maintain its fleet at peak efficiency, it keeps a back-up supply of 100,000 separate items, all indexed and stored with the utmost care and attention. Items range in size from a section of a Viscount mainplane to microscopic ball-bearings and tiny screws.

No business works without printed paper. NAC has its own printing department producing thousands of timetables, waybills, pamphlets, booklets and other documents. This NAC-man checks his colour printing machine.

Engineering Headquarters and NAC Stores at Christchurch cover 15 acres. Pictured here is portion of the engine assembly line where qualified engineers and apprentices overhaul Viscount and Friendship Rolls-Royce engines. 575,000 man-hours are devoted to engine maintenance each year.

Typical of the care given to aircraft and engines is shown by this engineer working at night on maintenance of a Friendship engine.

This engineer uses ultra-sonic equipment to check that no flaws have developed in a Friendship wheel hub. The screen instantly reveals the slightest defect.

Page Thirty-three

Intending passengers make hundreds of thousands of telephone calls each year and speak directly to the NAC-persons handling their bookings. The system allows immediate confirmation of most flights.

Well over eight million teleprinter messages are handled each year on the NAC internal network, making the Corporation second only to the Post Office in messages processed. However, the density of traffic on NAC circuits is the greatest in New Zealand. This girl at the Communications Centre in Wellington is processing a perforated tape message.

The Air Movements Controllers at Central Airmovements in Wellington watch the hour-by-hour flying pattern of the network, making adjustments and rescheduling flights, if necessary. It is a complex task requiring a detailed knowledge of weather, routes, passenger and freight loadings. The objective of these men is to keep aircraft on time, all the time.

Page Thirty-four

NAC passengers fly an average of 258 miles. The total weight of their baggage amounts to 10,715 tons each year. While one traffic clerk checks tickets and allocates seats, the other weighs the passengers’ luggage.

Aviation has brought New Zealand within hours of any point on the globe. Air Centres are staffed by experienced overseas travel officers, personally acquainted with round-the-world routes and facilities abroad. Here the lady travel expert talks over a flight with a client.

After weigh-in baggage is moved by trolley to the aircraft and is similarly unloaded when the aircraft lands. This loader is experienced in baggage and freight handlings, knows how to take care of passengers’ luggage. Trolleys have covers for wet weather.

Page Thirty-five

People fly by night. This dramatic shot of a Friendship ready to take-off typifies the day and night service of NAC.

Book-keeping goes modern in aviation and the intricate recording and tabulating of accounts is the interesting and speedy work of these girls in the Corporation’s Finance Division.

Page Thirty-six

NAC’s 150 hostesses have a job that is out of this world, almost. They are trained to care for passengers and on most flights provide refreshments from buffets.

From time to time a hostess needs to give special attention to a very special passenger. This girl comforts a young passenger on arrival at Wellington.

Inevitably, aviation and children go together. These eager visitors inspect the forward door of a Friendship, and gain a glimpse of the flight deck.

Page Thirty-seven

high, white and handsome…
Yes, that’s DULUX HI-GLOSS House Paint, on the eye-catching N.A.C. Friendship jet-props (on N.A.C. Viscounts, too). Why? For the excellent reason that DULUX Hi-Gloss outshines and outlasts all other full gloss exterior enamels. This is the supreme test of beauty and durability – and New Zealand’s best-selling house paint passes with flying colours. Make no mistake about it – if you want a full gloss house paint, make it DULUX Hi-Gloss. We have this famous paint in all 50 brilliant, fade resistant colours, as well as black and white. And by the way, DULUX Hi-Gloss was recently re-formulated to ensure even greater ease of application. For DULUX paints and all the “trimmings” . see us at Holts.

Page Thirty-eight

What’s new in Refrigerators – Holts can tell you – they’ve got a Line-up of contemporary style PRESTCOLD Refrigerators in a shimmering cost-cutting range to satisfy any family. There’s a whole host of new features PLUS glamourous stylings PLUS down to earth value PLUS Holts friendly on-the-spot service. If you’re looking for a New Refrigerator – SEE PRESTCOLD AT HOLTS – TOMORROW.

Page Thirty-nine


The successful launching of the Dominion’s second major internal airline was the fruition of ten years’ “dreaming and hard work” by two veteran New Zealand pilots. The two pilots, Captains Bob Anderson and Rex Daniell, have between them notched nearly five million miles and 25,000 flying hours in both civil and military flying.

For many years after the war, while both men were flying D.C.3’s up and down both islands, each dreamed of the day when they would “make a break” and start a second airline. They knew the country well. They knew the type of plane they wanted. But they lacked the tremendous finance necessary to launch such a venture.

Each of their thoughts was completely independent.

Captain Anderson was stationed out of Wellington and Captain Daniell was stationed at Auckland, and it was not until they met eight years ago, by the inevitable chance, that both pilots welded by sheer enthusiasm a new dream.

Wanted a Second Airline

They worked hard. Anderson stuck out for both buying into a small feeder airline, but Daniell, his sights levelled on things much larger, plumped for the basic operational programme of a second internal airline.

£120,000 Backing Needed

Both men were finally convinced that a second airline, feeding country areas with a regular service, could prove an answer. However, they both fully realised that other such ventures had failed in New Zealand through under-capitalisation. Between them, they resolved “their” company would need a backing of £120,000. They decided to form a public company. Captain Daniell realised that while he had the flying and semi-executive side of running an airline almost under control, he lacked the knowledge of the intense ground organisation in running a transport company.

He talked with Auckland Transport personality Charles Edwards, who had first shown little enthusiasm in the venture. However, the undoubted keenness and the sound logic of the potential of such a company quickly rubbed off on to Edwards who helped steer the men through the many pitfalls associated with transporting the public. Shortly after, Palmerston North stockbroker, Mr. John Orr, joined the trio and then Mr. J. Johnstone, well known in the New Zealand motor trade, showed his backing for the scheme, and the company was on its way.

But they still needed more finance – the enthusiasm of the men could not pay for the aircraft demanded by Captain Daniell. He strongly advocated for the Douglas D.C.3 as the basic operational aircraft, the most suitable for New Zealand conditions.

Captain Daniell flew to Hawaii where he inspected several such aircraft and returned convinced that his first thoughts would meet the demands of New Zealand’s internal travellers, and particularly tourists to the country.

Ansett Promised Support

In October 1960, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Orr and Captain Daniell flew to Australia for talks with Australian aviation doyen, Mr. Reg. Ansett, who, after a long meeting with them, promised his full support. It was indeed two intensely proud men who later watched their first plane arrive on its delivery flight from Australia. The plane which had been extensively outfitted in Melbourne, has been hailed by Australian aviation experts as the best finished aircraft of its type in the world.

The regular service of Airlines of New Zealand has opened up many hitherto country centres throughout both islands which have been neglected on past schedules.

Photo caption – Captain R. Anderson and Captain R. D. Daniel, both ex-N.A.C. pilots. It was these two men who set about forming a second New Zealand airline.

Page Forty


An airport is opened, the jet age comes to Hawke’s Bay, and an air service equal to any in New Zealand is made available to the people of the area. A great deal of publicity is accorded to the coming of the sleek and time-saving Friendship aircraft which has revolutionised air travel in and out of Hawke’s Bay. Spacious terminals, staffed by highly efficient men and women, have been built at the airport and in the “twin cities”, and NAC’s communications system, the second largest in N.Z., ensures the utmost in service to the NAC traveller.

A Most Vital Link

All these facets of today’s “air age” are aimed at getting the traveller at yet faster speeds from one point to another, but strangely enough, one of the most important links in the whole operation is that of ground transport.

Airports require space, and this is only found outside the cities those airports serve. In many cases the traveller spends more time sitting in a bus than he does in actual air travel, therefore the comfort and facility of ground transport must keep pace with the progress of the airliner if that progress is to be of any benefit.

Most Modern in New Zealand

In this respect Hawke’s Bay can lay claim to having one of the most up-to-date and efficient ground transport systems in New Zealand, and in fact a better system would be hard to find anywhere in the world.

This has all been brought about through the co-ordinated efforts of NAC and Newmans Coach Lines who recently combined in the building of an Air and Ground Transport Centre in Hastings, the only place in New Zealand which can boast of airways and ground transport services being sited in the one building.

This co-ordination of two vastly differing modes of transport allows for the smooth transfer of travellers from their point of origin to

Photo captions –

Already becoming a familiar sight, and sound, over Hawke’s Bay, the N.A.C. Friendship “Kotuku” dwarfs the ground transport bus operated by Newmans Bros. Ltd.

Below: The above photo is in startling contrast to the one below which pictures an early Newmans coach.

Page Forty-one

their air centre destination. For example, an air traveller leaving from any Central Hawke’s Bay town with, say, an Auckland destination, is in the care of either Newmans or NAC for the whole journey. On arrival in Hastings, via the Wellington-Napier Newmans service the traveller simply steps from one bus into another parked right alongside and bound direct for the airport.

Of Special Value to Children

This service is of special benefit to children, older folk, and invalids. There are none of those transferring worries where the traveller must concern himself with making connections from one form of transport to another. The traveller need not give a thought to his luggage from the time he or she departs until arrival at the Auckland city terminal.

Travellers from north of Napier are also well catered for by the Hawke’s Bay Motor Company whose modern and up-to-date coaches pull into the airport on their journey to Napier, and whose schedule connects with many outward-bound aircraft.

Hawke’s Bay is unique in that one airport serves two major cities which gave rise to its own particular problems of economical ground transport, both of people and freight. The NAC coaches operating from Hastings and Napier have overcome most of these problems with a reduced passenger carrying capacity and an enlarged freight compartment capable of carrying up to 30 cwt. of freight and luggage. These modifications made to two of Newmans luxury coaches to provide the vital link from city terminal to airport are the result of the combined knowledge of men who have had wide experience in both spheres of transportation.

Courtesy and Comfort Continues on Ground

All who travel to Hawke’s Bay via the Friendship airliner, for which the Hawke’s Bay Airport has been specially designed and constructed, will find that courtesy, comfort, and service does not end when he or she steps off the aircraft. Waiting for them at the airport will be a motor coach which will be just as comfortable to travel in as was the aircraft they had just left.

We are honoured to be associated with the Hawke’s Bay Airport Authority on the Official Opening of the newly – constituted Beacons Aerodrome -a modern amenity which will prove to be of inestimable value in the rapid development of our progressive Province.
Cnr. Avenue Road and Warren Street
Aerial Surveyors & Photogrammetric Engineers

Page Forty-two

Box 315 – Hastings
Box 118 — Kaitaia
No. 2 R.D. — Rukuhia Hamilton
The Association of the three Companies, JAMES, ADVANCE and SHERWOOD, brings you INCREASED EFFICIENCY in PERSONNEL and EQUIPMENT.
With the introduction of more powerful engines we can provide the Farmer with a Service Second to None.

Page Forty-three


They called it flying. And it was that, in the sense that a racing motor-cyclist, striking some obstruction, generally flies; in the sense that a machine with wings attached and propelled fast enough will leave the ground for one crazy moment.

They knew they were in at the dawn of something. It challenged not only their courage – they had a surfeit of that – but also their ingenuity. And it picked their pockets bare.

A few of them foresaw an aviation industry as we know it today.

Driving Urge to Become Airborne

They were young New Zealanders who, more than 50 years ago, were fired by stories from the northern hemisphere of flying machines. Some were to import kit-sets and try, with varying success, to become airborne. The first of them were ahead of the messages from overseas.

Photo caption – This photograph must surely be the most historical one reproduced in this booklet for it was taken sometime in 1909, just six years after the Wright brothers first flew an aircraft. It shows the second of Bertrum Ogilvie’s “flying machines” which until recently was considered to be the first aircraft to be fitted with ailerons. Bert Ogilvie was a Napier man and built and tested his weird machines on a 100-foot ramp situated in Riverbend Road, Napier.
Photo by courtesy of Mr. Arnold Wright

Page Forty-four

Pearse, Temuka – Ogilvie, Napier

The most notable of these was a Temuka farmer, Richard Pearse, who invented the aileron, and was landing on hedge tops, making recognised flights probably only months later than when the American Wright Bros. invented the warp wing in 1903. Just as Pearse worked independently of the Wright Bros., so did a young Napier engineer, Bertram Ogilvie, know nothing of Pearse when he was experimenting, about 1907, with ideas of his own ailerons.

Working at Napier, where he was employed by a firm of engineers, Ogilvie built three flying machines between 1907 and 1910, and tested then on a huge sloping ramp specially constructed to provide the equivalent of runway speed. As pictured, one of the Ogilvie contraptions was not unlike a trotting sulky slung under box-like wings. It was towed to the top of a 29ft. high framework ramp, which provided a sloping runway 80 to 100 ft. long. Ogilvie, according to one description, would clench his teeth behind a weird 10 h.p. motor coupled to a propellor which resembled a canoe’s double paddle. Down the ramp the contraption would roar, shaking loose the broomstick struts and springing every screw in the machine. The flying amounted to this: at the end of the ramp the contraption would bound into the air and ‘land’ with a resounding thud. Then Ogilvie and his mates would get to work again, with new ideas.

Took Ideas to England

Hawke’s Bay well-wishers helped finance much of his research and experimentation, and Ogilvie’s Napier employers took advantage of the fact that Lord Kitchener was in New Zealand at the time: they interested him in the project, had him visit the testing ground and heard him promise War Office support if the aileron invention reached England. Ogilvie and one of his employers, Hawkins, financed by a syndicate, went to England where Handley Page built a triplane designed by Ogilvie.

The Balloon Age

Bert Ogilvie and his fellow pioneers came after the fantastic characters of the balloon age, who were demonstrating their combination of science and showmanship as early as 1890: They were still making a side-show of their own version of aeronautics as late as 1914; and of course their half-brothers, the parachutists, were still enjoying a one-way version of ballooning.

Schaef – A Wellington Photographer

But what of powered flight, after Pearse and Ogilvie? A Wellington photographer, Arthur Schaef, wanted so much to take photographs from the air that he risked his life and spent what money he had building an aeroplane and trying to fly it. At Hutt Park and Lyall Bay beach between 1909 and 1911 he made various attempts, all of them bordering on the heroic. His best effort is supposed to have been a straight dash of about 150 ft. at varying altitudes of a few feet above Lyall Bay’s sand. Before he died in 1940 he said: “The only tangible thing I have left is an old step-ladder. I made it from a few spars, and it has helped me obtain elevation in earning

Photo captions –

Built in 1911 by Leo and Vivian Walsh of Remuera, Auckland, this bi-plane was the first New Zealand-assembled aircraft capable of sustained flight.
Photo by courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library

The Walsh Bros. later turned their attentions to seaplanes, one of which they brought to Napier in 1917 at the request of the late Mr. Percy Spiller, then Secretary of the Napier 30,000 Club. The first joy ride was sold by auction to a Mr. Frank Moeller for £20. He was then manager of the Masonic Hotel.
Photo by courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library

Page Forty-five

a few shillings at my real profession – photography.”

The First Sustained Flight – 1911

The Walsh brothers of Remuera, Auckland, are comparatively well-known in aviation history. In 1910 they ordered from England an unassembled Howard Wright Farman biplane, and virtually built an aircraft of their own handiwork. Admired by Schaef and others, it was really capable of sustained flight. Leo and Vivian Walsh had their set-backs and disappointments, but on February 5, 1911, at Papakura they flew the “Manurewa” publicly, and the following month reached 60 ft. in straight flight. The aircraft was wrecked shortly after when its undercarriage caught an obstruction while taxi-ing. The Walsh brothers turned their talents to sea-planes, and their flying school prepared some of New Zealand’s best-known airmen for the strenuous years ahead.

J. W. Scotland – First Long-distance Flight

Percy Fisher, who had been a partner with Schaef, combined with another Wellington pioneer, Reg White, in 1913 to introduce flying to the Wairarapa. When a suitable imported aircraft became available J. W. H. Scotland, of Wellington, in a Caudron biplane, made the first long-distance flight (Invercargill to Gore). The Canterbury Aviation Company’s chief pilot, Euan Dickson, in August, 1921, made the first Cook Strait crossing: in an Avro he flew from Blenheim to Trentham. The following month George Bolt, in a N.Z. Flying School Supermarine, made the first Auckland- Wellington mail run (two stops) in 5 hr. 6 min. flying time. The initiative was passing from the Walsh Flying School graduates to World War I Royal Flying Corps veterans; but Bolt, as a Walsh-trained wartime instructor, was one who combined both roles. The spotlight was shifting too – to the Tasman.

Charles Kingsford Smith – 1928

Soon after the two New Zealanders Hood (Masterton aerodrome is named after him) and Moncrieff were lost on an eastbound Tasman crossing, the immortal Charles Kingsford-Smith and C. T. P. Ulm, after flying from

Your Air Force has many interesting training schemes open to keen young men and women. For full details visit our Mobile Unit positioned at the Hawke’s Bay Airport static display.
Remember an interview entails no obligation.

Page Forty-six

the United States to Australia, spanned the Tasman (Sydney-Wigram) in the now famous Fokker monoplane “Southern Cross”. It was the night of September 10-11, 1928, and New Zealand’s isolation was at an end. The flight took 14 hr. 25 min. – compared with the 3½ hr. flights of present turbo-prop equipment.

Guy Menzies – 1931
First Solo Trans-Tasman Flight

After Smithy and Ulm flew back through the westerlies to Sydney with a £2000 Government grant in their pockets, three years passed before the Tasman was crossed again. A young Australian, Guy Menzies, who had mentioned an intention to fly from Sydney to Perth, brought his single-engined aircraft down in a raupo swamp in Westland early in 1931. Frank Chichester flew westbound; Smithy was back for the first of a number of touchdowns at New Plymouth; and Ulm flew in, too, in “Faith in Australia”. For some years the two were barnstorming, carrying mails—and urging the inauguration, with Government sponsorship, of a regular trans-Tasman service.

Soon the only interest in trans-Tasman flying was in the unusual: Ray Whitehead, of Wellington, and Rex Nicholl, of Sydney, in the “flying petrol tank” – the oldest Puss Moth in Australia; the mysterious Mr. X (Pat O’Hara) who ended his flight in a fence at Mangere; the first woman (Jean Batten); a “flying farmer” (Ernle Clark).

Even these efforts couldn’t stop interest shifting again to the blue riband route to the United Kingdom. M. M. McGregor, the beloved “Mac”, and H. C. Walker, in a single- engined Miles Hawk (“Manawatu”) finished fourth on handicap in the classic London- Melbourne race of 1934, one place ahead of

Photo captions –

The Imperial Airways “Centaurus” lands in Wellington Harbour, January 1938, so completing a historical occasion in New Zealand trans-Tasman commercial aviation for this flight was the first of many to follow.
“Evening Post’’ photo by courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library

Mr. M. (Mac) McGregor, famous New Zealand aviator and World War I pilot, is seen here beside a single-engined Miles Hawke.
Photo by Whites Aviation Ltd.

Page Forty-seven

J. D. Hewitt and C. Kay in a twin-engined D.H. Dragon Rapide.

England-New Zealand flights were pioneered by Hewitt and Kay in “Tainui” when they flew on home, at the end of the race to Melbourne, on November 14, 1934. Later that year Jean Batten flew a Moth from England, not far ahead of farmer, Ernle Clark, in a Percival Gull. Arthur Clouston in a de Havilland Comet in March, 1938, reduced the time to New Zealand in a figure still mentionable: 4 days 8 hours 7 minutes.

But for New Zealand aviation the really significant step was the arrival on a route- proving flight of an airline flying-boat, Imperial Airways’ Centaurus. It was the first step in the establishment of a regular trans-Tasman service, and was instigated, in its New Zealand

Photo captions –

J. W. Scotland poses beside the Caudron biplane in which he made the first long-distance flight in New Zealand from Invercargill to Gore in 1914. 7
Photos by courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library

Thousands turned out to see Scotland demonstrate the capabilities of his rather frail looking Caudron aircraft. Note there is no covered-in fuselage.

Yes, Hawke’s Bay is flying ahead – there’s actual flying ahead – and the opening of Hawke’s Bay Airport will mean a very great deal in progress for the whole province.
We of the National Bank, very much part of the community, feel as pleased as everyone else at what the opening of our long awaited airport will mean to us all.
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Page Forty-eight

participation, by the then leader in international airline thought, Union Airways. Captained by New Zealander J. W. Burgess, Centaurus, at Auckland, dipped its wing to another harbinger of scheduling to come, a Pan- American clipper. Captained by Edwin Musick, the clipper had come down through the Pacific on another survey. In April, 1940, an international airline with headquarters in New Zealand, Tasman Empire Airways Ltd. (Teal) was formed, with a number of Commonwealth countries as joint partners. Now, in the jet age, Teal is a New Zealand property.

Government Enters Aviation Field

The Government had not intruded into internal aviation’s testing years – the enthusiasts would have added that the Government had done little to help. It was drawn in when the Imperial Air Fleet Committee, in 1913, presented New Zealand with a Bleriot monoplane. The Government appointed an early flying personality, Joe Hammond, of Wellington, pilot, and left him in charge long enough to make the first flight over Auckland city. When an unauthorised flight angered officialdom the monoplane was repacked and stored in Wellington till it was sent to the front in World War I.

Air Department set up in 1936

Much of the early pressure on the Government to interest itself in aviation was concerned with the Air Force, and administration of regulations coming under defence. A separate Air Department was finally set up in 1936, with a section for civil aviation. Non military aviation received individual recognition with the formation in 1947 of the Civil Aviation Administration. One of its preoccupations was to be the agricultural aviation industry, then coming into being. Through the drive of such visionaries as E. A. Gibson, first director of C.A.A., the Government was at last taking a leading role. Now it runs the main internal service under corporation control (N.A.C.) equipped with Viscount and Friendship turbo-props; owns and operates an international airline re-equipping with giant jets; and administers a chain of jet and lesser fields. The Government, like the industry itself, has come a long way.

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Page Forty-nine


Aerial photography, and aerial mapping, are now an essential feature of many major national developmental works and the making of contour maps. A pioneer and leader in this field is the firm of N.Z. Aerial Mapping, situated in Hastings, and headed by its founder, Mr. Piet van Asch.

Any record of Hawke’s Bay’s place in the making of aviation history would be incomplete without reference to the enterprise, drive and initiative of this man. He showed an attainment of proficiency in his favourite pastime that eventually led to the fulfilling of a successful career on such a grand scale, in a completely unknown to New Zealand field, that his story becomes an inspiration for others to follow.

As a young man he took a keen interest in the field of amateur photography and later, in the early 1930’s carried his hobby into the air as a flying member of the then recently formed Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club. His aerial photographs taken in those early days soon attracted interest from people in authority.

An Official Approach

First indication that his dual hobby of photography and flying was to become his career came when he was approached by Dr. Ernest Marsden, then Director of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. He was asked by this scientific leader if he could undertake a photographic coverage of the Heretaunga Plains, it being thought that such a coverage would prove of benefit in the compilation of a soil survey map required by the department.

Having little or no idea of the finer techniques of vertical aerial photography, Mr. van Asch, with tongue in cheek, said he would “give it a go”. A hole was cut in the bottom of one of the club’s Moths, a press camera mounted, and in partnership with Mr. A. G. Gerrand, who had had previous R.A.A.F. experience in this type of aerial photography and was the club’s flying instructor at the time, Piet declared he was ready to start.

So began the first aerial photographic survey undertaken in Hawke’s Bay, and one of the first serious attempts at this type of work ever undertaken in New Zealand. After many hours of flying, and many heartbreaks, the project was eventually completed. The resultant mosaics, made up of numerous 4 x 3 prints, proved to be of value to the Soil Survey Division of the Research Department, and this success prompted Piet van Asch to consider the prospects of such work as a career.

Travelled to England in Search of Experience

Spurred on by the knowledge that the authorities were considering a hydrographical survey of New Zealand’s coastline, he continued his investigations until in March 1936 he set off for England to learn everything there was to be learnt about aerial survey work. To assist him, he carried in his pocket a letter of introduction from the Minister of Marine, and a sample copy of the Heretaunga Plains mosaics.

An eventful six months was spent in England, during which time he took a technical course with an aerial survey company, purchased a Monospar S.T.25 aircraft, teamed up with engineer George Tillson, and carried out contract aerial survey work. This last having the dual object of gaining experience and helping to pay for the Monospar.

In December 1936, Piet, George, and the Monospar returned to New Zealand to become the life-blood of the Hastings company, formed earlier in the year and then struggling for

Photo caption – Mr. Piet van Asch, Managing Director of N.Z. Aerial Mapping Ltd., looks with pride on the Press British Ensign, quarter-plate reflex camera he used on aerial mapping experiments which lead to the establishment of his company in 1936. In contrast, the Swiss Wild R.C.8 camera, as used today is expressly designed for precision aerial photography. A wonderful product of modern science and technology, it is electrically, electronically, and vacuum operated. For all practical purposes this camera is distortion-free. Comparative weights of the two cameras are 8lbs and 326lbs.

Page Fifty

Here are the boats which are made to aviation’s exacting standards. De Havilland boats need no sheds, little maintenance because they are made of non-corrosive marine aluminium, the toughest, most long-lasting boat material in the world. So light, so smart, so speedy. See the range – pick the boat for you!
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4. 14-ft. Tradewind roomy sea- worthy fishing boat.
5. 12-ft. Speed Topper so roomy, yet can be carried on a car roof rack.
See them on the airfield display today or at your local dealers Tourist Motor and Farming Co. Hastings and Napier.
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existence. The greater part of the two-man crew’s early work consisted of photographing private estates owned by shareholders of the company.

10,000 Square Miles in One Year

Shortly after the outbreak of the war the services of this growing company became very much in demand for important and vital aerial survey work, and an indication of the effort put in by the aircrew with its Monospar, coupled with the small but highly efficient processing team of eight, is seen in the prodigious coverage carried out during 1943, of no less than 10,000 square miles for mapping purposes. This represents nearly one-tenth of New Zealand’s total land area.

Early in 1943 a larger aircraft, a Beechcraft AT.11 was obtained and with the purchase of this machine the company extended its operations beyond the shores of New Zealand to the Pacific Islands. Processing work was then, and still is, carried out in the company’s Hastings premises. The fitting of this aircraft with the highly specialised equipment required for mapping work, was undertaken by New Zealand engineers guided by members of the company. Today, the equipment used, and the methods employed, largely pioneered in Hawke’s Bay, are second to none.

Evidence of Growth

Evidence of the N.Z. Aerial Mapping Company’s growth, under the continual guiding influence of Mr. Piet van Asch and his team of fifty dedicated associates in the company, can be seen in the two-storey, 14,000 square foot building erected in 1957 on the corner of Avenue Road and Warren Street, Hastings.

As this booklet goes to press the third aircraft, an Aero Commander, is being prepared in its new hangar at Bridge Pa and will be seen on the ground and in the air, on the official opening day of the Hawke’s Bay Airport. The Aero Commander has been purchased, and is being modified, to replace the Beechcraft, known affectionately by everyone connected with the company, as “Old Faithful”, which during the past twenty years has become a familiar sight over Hawke’s Bay.

R. D. Brown of Tremendous Help

A tower of strength to Mr. Piet van Asch during this company’s development since its inception thirty years ago, has been Mr. R. D. Brown, who played such a large part in the progress of the Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club. He, along with the company’s founder, can well be proud of their efforts in the writing of yet another chapter into the history of Hawke’s Bay aviation.

Photo captions –

Pictured at left is the Monospar ST.25 purchased in 1936, and which until 1943 was the sole aircraft owned by the company. Main limitation was its two-mile ceiling.

The first public appearance of the company’s new Aero Commander 680F will be on February 15th during the official opening day air pageant. Nearly three times the weight of the Monospar, the Aero Commander will enable aerial photography to be taken at altitudes of five miles.

Aerial weed spraying, crop spraying, dusting, and pasture spraying is an advancement that puts Hawke’s Bay out front in productivity.
Contact your nearest Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Co-op. Produce Department, and see just what difference this method can make to your farm.
With the advent of Whirlwide Aviation’s Helicopter Service, you can now have fencing materials brought in by air, supplies dropped, anti-erosion work made so much easier.
There is no end to the uses you can find for this new service.
Definitely, aviation advances Hawke’s Bay. .. . Ask the H.B. Farmers’ Co-op. They can arrange this service for you.

Page Fifty-three


On the Maraekakahoe [Maraekakaho] Road, just short of the Bridge Pa turn-off, stands a large red woolshed. It was in this woolshed that Hawke’s Bay’s first ever commercial aviation enterprise had its headquarters.

Formed in 1922 by Lionel Tatton, the New Zealand Aerial Transport Company had a short and most unhappy life, for it never did reach the stage of carrying a paying passenger. But for the fact that it was in fact the first aviation company to be set up in the district, it would probably have faded into obscurity practically before it began operations.

Finished Before It Started

The short but courageous history of this company comprises the painting in bold letters across the front of the shed the legend N.Z.A.T.Co., the fitting of large sliding doors, and an ill fated test flight of the company’s sole aircraft, an Avro 504. Piloted by Lionel Tatton himself, the Avro did not survive the test flight, for, due to an engine failure, it crashed and was so badly damaged that it never flew again. This spelt finish to the dreams of the company’s enterprising and pioneering founder.

Dominion Airlines — 1930

It was to be another eight years before any further attempt was made at forming an airline company in Hawke’s Bay, when in 1930, the late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, of early aviation fame, formed Dominion Airlines Limited. This company commenced business with a two passenger single-engined De Soutter monoplane which offered air travel between Hastings and Gisborne to anyone bold enough to risk the flight.

In February, 1931, some six months after its inaugural flight, the De Soutter, piloted by relief pilot Mr. Ivan Knight, a director of the company from Dannevirke, crashed at Wairoa, taking the lives of the two passengers and Mr. Knight. Regular pilot for the company was the late Mr. G. B. Bolt, who went on to make a name for himself that will live forever in New Zealand’s early aviation history.

Photo captions –

An Avro 504K as flown by Lionel Tatton in 1922, and which crashed on a test flight which was to be the prelude to the first commercial passenger venture in Hawke’s Bay aviation history.
Photo by Whites Aviation Ltd.

A two-passenger De Soutter as operated by the first successful passenger service between Hastings, Napier, and Gisborne. Dominion Airlines was set up in 1930 by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith assisted by the late George Bolt of New Zealand aviation fame. In February 1931 the De Soutter, piloted by Mr. Ivan Knight, crashed and the two passengers and pilot lost their lives.
Photo by Whites Aviation Ltd.

Page Fifty-four

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Gisborne Air Transport – 1931

Following this disastrous crash, Dominion Airlines went into liquidation and in March of that year a Mr. G. A. Nicholls of Gisborne, now a Director of both N.A.C. and T.E.A.L. formed the Gisborne Air Transport Company which took over the Hastings-Gisborne service with a single engined D.H. Moth. Another De Soutter monoplane was later introduced and this service managed to keep going for two years with Mr. W. H. Lett, another well-known aviation pioneer, acting as pilot. Mr. Nicholls himself acted as relief pilot on many occasions until early in 1931 this company too ceased operations.

H.B. & E.C. Aero Club – 1933

The Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club stepped in at this stage and bought the De Soutter from Gisborne Air Transport in February 1933, and with the Club’s then instructor, Mr. A. G. Gerrand, acting as pilot, carried on the service on a charter basis. (Mr. Gerrand also acted as pilot for Mr. Piet van Asch when the latter undertook what is thought to be the first serious attempt at aerial mapping,

Photo captions –

Above: Well known aviation pioneer W. H. Lett made almost 600 trips between Hastings and Gisborne while flying for the Gisborne Air Transport Company between 1931 and 1932.

Above right: George Bolt, O.B.E., F.R.A.S., one of New Zealand’s greatest aerial pioneers, acted as adviser, and flew for, Dominion Airlines, the first commercial company to carry passengers between Hastings and Gisborne.

Below: A 10-passenger East Coast Airways D.H. Dragon flies over the Marine Parade, Napier, as it was in 1936. Note development ends at Georges Drive.

Photos by Whites Aviation Ltd.

Page Fifty-six

a venture which eventually led to the forming of the New Zealand Aerial Mapping Company at Hastings.)

East Coast Airways – 1935

The first large scale airline operation in Hawke’s Bay, that of East Coast Airways Limited, was organised between June 1933 and July 1934 by Mr. E. A. Robinson, now General Manager of Fieldair Limited, Gisborne, with the support of the Shell Oil Company and “The Dominion”. Shell at that time were taking an active interest in developing aviation in New Zealand, and “The Dominion” was interested in exploring the possibility of using air transport to develop its circulation in Gisborne.

Formed in 1934, with a capital of £15,000, a substantial proportion of which was subscribed by the Union Steam Ship Company, East Coast Airways commenced flying on the 15th April, 1935, with official opening ceremonies being held at both Gisborne and Napier. As “Licensing” of air transport was introduced in New Zealand at this time, the company had the distinction of being the first licensed, twin- engined, air service in New Zealand.

The company operated two D.H. “Dragon” biplane twin-engined aircraft which were capable of carrying up to ten passengers, but because of inadequate landing fields, seldom carried more than five passengers on any one trip.

The Directors of E.C.A.

The first Directors of the company, forerunner of today’s N.A.C. services in the Hawke’s Bay-Gisborne area, were: Chairman, Wing Commander S. Grant-Dalton, D.S.O., A.F.C. (ex Director of Air Services for the New Zealand Government), Havelock North, and Messrs. A. B. Williams, G. A. Nicholls, L. Miles, J. G. Nolan, and Dr. R. M. Gunn, all of Gisborne. Mr. E. A. Robinson became Napier Manager, working closely with Mr. Fred Cray of Napier, and the company secretary, Mr. G. Crawshaw of Ball and Crawshaw, managed the Gisborne office.

The two aircraft, piloted by Group Captain T. W. (Tiny) White (Chief Pilot) and Mr. R. A. Kirkup, flew from the aerodrome initially formed by the Napier Aero Club, and later developed by the Napier Airport Board. This

Photo captions –

Above: One of the two original East Coast Airways pilots, R. A. Kirkup, is here seen relaxing in the old tramcar which was placed at the Beacons to act as terminal office.
photo by Whites Aviation Ltd.

Above right: Founder of East Coast Airways, Mr. E. A. Robinson, now General Manager of Fieldair Ltd., Gisborne.

Below: Napier Aero Club members, one of their gliders, and the two East Coast Airways D.H. Dragons, the first two commercial machines to make use of the facilities provided by the efforts of the glider club.
Photo by courtesy of Arnold Wright

Page Fifty-seven

aerodrome was sited in the area between the Napier embankment and Napier “Bluff Hill”. It is interesting to note here that many early aviation identities attributed the “finding” of the present day Hawke’s Bay Airport at the “Beacons” to Pilot R. A. Kirkup, who, it is said, when flying the early morning flight from Gisborne to Napier, designed to connect with the 8 a.m. train from Napier to Wellington, found that he could not land at the Embankment aerodrome because of fog, so he touched down on the fog free area on the other side of the embankment.

Beacons Became Permanent Drome – 1936

It was not long after this that a second aerodrome was formed there, and because of its excellent fog free condition, became the permanent aerodrome for Napier, with an old Napier tram being placed there as the “Terminal” building.

Union Airways – 1937

Even though the service offered by East Coast Airways became very popular and carried some 2000 passengers in the first six months on a schedule of two flights a day each way, at a fare of £2 single and £3/15/- return, its financial position early in 1937 was not good. This resulted in the operation being taken over by Union Airways of New Zealand, who by that time were operating main trunk services between Palmerston North and Dunedin.

N.A.C. – 1947

Union Airways linked up this service with the Napier-Gisborne service, and in 1939 introduced a further service between Gisborne and Auckland via Opotiki and Tauranga. This company operated in the Hawke’s Bay area for ten years, from 1937 to April 1st, 1947, when on going into voluntary liquidation its whole operation was taken over by NAC which commenced operations under its own licence with DC3 aircraft.

S.P.A.N.Z. – 1960

Today, with the “Viewmaster” DC3 service introduced to Napier by SPANZ in December 1960, and the commencing of the “Friendship” service on December 20th, 1963, Hawke’s Bay enjoys an air service, outside the four main centres of New Zealand, which is second to none.

Photo captions –

Early in 1937 Union Airways, who were then operating air services throughout New Zealand, took over from East Coast Airways and introduced the four- engined D.H. Express Airliner to the Napier-Gisborne route. This was the only four-engined aircraft operating out of Napier, before or since. (The Friendship is a two-engined jet-prop aircraft.)
Photo by Whites Aviation Ltd.

The Dominie aircraft made brief appearances at the Napier aerodrome prior to the advent of N.A.C. in 1947 and their DC3s.
Photo by Whites Aviation Ltd.

Page Fifty-eight

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Page Fifty-nine


The story of the Hastings firm, Sherwood Aviation Ltd., which is one of the large scale aerial agricultural firms, with its offices in Hawke’s Bay, is typical of the growth and activities of the aerial agricultural industry which has given a lead to the world in this particular sphere of aviation.

As in most other aviation activities, Hawke’s Bay’s contribution to the development of the aerial topdressing industry has been a large one right from its beginnings. Records show that as early as 1949 a company by the name of Aerial Agriculture had been formed in Hawke’s Bay.

10 Operators by 1950

Following close on the heels of Aerial Agriculture was Aerial Projects, now known as Sherwood Aviation, which commenced operations with two Tiger Moths. A great many wartime, and aero club trained pilots quickly saw the potential of this industry, and during 1950 something like ten operators started up in business, most operating with only one aircraft.

Early Operators

Early operators included such names as Rural Aviation, Aerial Farming, Cookson’s Air Service, Van Air, Field Air, Wiggs Fertilizer, Barr Bros., and others. Some of these companies originated outside of the Hawke’s Bay province.

In those early days up to twenty Tiger Moths were in use in the Hawke’s Bay area and in fact there were more pilots and aircraft carrying out topdressing activities then, than there are today.

Moth Limited to 5 cwt.

Methods of operation were vastly different then from now, with hand loading of bagged super into the loaders being the order of the day. The Tiger Moth’s limit was five hundredweight a load, but even then actual loading took less than thirty seconds a time. However, more labour was required on the site to hand- load the bags of super into the hoppers mounted on booms extending out from the front of trucks. A good day’s work for the Moth was the spreading of up to 30 tons with a team of anything up to six men.

The terrific demand for Tiger Moths during the early days of topdressing by air, resulted in the necessity of paying in the vicinity of £1000 for the aircraft, but even so the Moth remained supreme until late 1952 when the first medium-sized aircraft was introduced. This was the De Havilland Beaver, a high wing monoplane with a payload of 17 cwt. The Beaver was considered to have many drawbacks in spite of its high carrying capacity, not least of which was its purchase price of £20,000.

Following the Beaver was the Cessna which arrived in 1953 and which was available for £6000, but its weight limitation was down to

Photo captions –

The Tiger Moth was used extensively in the development of the aerial agriculture industry from its beginnings in 1948-49, and is still used today by some operators. Pictured with his Moth is topdressing pilot Keith Allington.

The specially designed Fletcher was introduced to the industry in 1954 when the first of 100 ordered was delivered to New Zealand. Here, current chief pilot for Sherwood Aviation, Gerald Hooper, climbs into the cockpit.

Page Sixty

10 cwt. and was not considered the complete answer by many operators. Another aircraft holding favour with the smaller operator of that time was the Piper which required the relatively small capital outlay of only £3500 with a carrying capacity of 6 to 8 cwt.

A Special Aircraft Sought

In 1951-52 topdressing companies and private operators throughout New Zealand formed the Aviation Industries Association and one of its first tasks was to find an aircraft especially suited for the industry. No aircraft company was then manufacturing an aircraft that met all the requirements of this New Zealand formed industry, unique in world aviation.

The aircraft sought was one which could handle short and mostly rough landing strips, be light enough for easy manouverability in limited air space, yet heavy enough to carry an economical payload. A feature of topdressing work is the continual landings and take offs on far from perfect strips, therefore the undercarriage construction was of prime importance. Then, as today, time from take-off to take-off averaged four minutes only.

Americans took up the challenge

In 1953 aircraft manufacturers in England and America were invited to supply such an aircraft, and it was the American Fletcher company which took up the challenge. Wendal Fletcher, President of the Fletcher Corporation, came out to New Zealand, saw what was being done with Moth, Beaver and Cessna aircraft, consulted with operators throughout the country, and the Civil Aviation experts, and then went home to put his ideas on the drawing board.

Photo captions –

New Zealand was a world pioneer of aerial agriculture and of necessity early operators designed and adapted their own loaders. The hopper, extending out from the front of the truck on a hydraulically-operated boom, was hand-loaded with bagged super. Leaning on the wing of the Moth is the late Glen Earl who was killed in 1949 while topdressing.

The latest loader designed specifically for the purpose by New Zealand engineers, is a masterpiece of engineering ingenuity. Capable of being driven from both ends, this vehicle is admirably suited for the purpose and incorporates a 600 gallon fuel tank. The hopper, here positioned in readiness to drop super into the Fletcher aircraft, tips forward when required and becomes a scoop for self-loading from the bulk super bin.

Page Sixty-one

Two senior Civil Aviation technical officers went to America to assist in the design and construction and when the first prototype was ready, two New Zealand operators travelled to the United States to test the practicability of the new Fletcher aircraft.

First Fletcher Arrived 1954

They were delighted with its performance and in 1954 the first of the 100 Fletcher aircraft ordered arrived in New Zealand in kit-set form to be assembled by New Zealand manufacturers. Today it is the most popular aerial agriculture aircraft in use, with approximately 70 in continual use throughout the country.

The hydraulically-sprung tricycle undercarriage has proved highly successful and well able to stand up to the rough treatement it receives. The payload of 15 cwt. has also been shown to be economically adequate.

Meanwhile New Zealand aviation engineers had been working on the manufacture of a loader and refuelling unit which would meet all the requirements of bulk super and continual uninterrupted operation.

Double-end Drive Loader

Today a loader driver operating the double-end drive trucks, fitted with the hydraulically controlled combination scoop and hopper loader, and including a fuel storage and delivery unit, plus the Fletcher aircraft and pilot, operate as a highly skilled team. With combination and precision timing as the keynote, actual flying time being strictly limited by weather conditions, this two-man team, working with their specialised equipment, average, at 15 cwt. a load, in the vicinity of 10 to 15 tons an hour. In ideal conditions they are capable of spreading up to 12 tons an hour for sustained periods of up to ten hours. This job calls for early rising, as such a team aims to drop the first load within 20 minutes of first light.

The average turn around of a proficient team is two to three minutes, depending on the proximity of the strip to the area being topdressed, and the aircraft is stopped on the ground for actual loading for less than 15 seconds for each landing, the driving aim of both pilot and loader being to get as much super spread as possible while the early morning conditions from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. hold.

Bulk Supplies Make Times Possible

These high pressure times have been made possible by the introduction of bulk super which is loaded, a day or two before the actual operation is to take place, into simply constructed bins at one end of the landing strip; the ingenuity of New Zealand engineers and manufacturers who have contributed to the perfection of loading equipment; the Fletcher aircraft, and the particularly specialised skills of the pilots and loader operators.

The industry also caters for spreading on rugged back country properties having difficult road access which would make bulk super delivery uneconomical, and which in many cases are unable to supply suitable landing strips. At present in operation in New Zealand are three Lodestars, with a 3½-ton carrying capacity, and two Dakotas capable of carrying and spreading in one flight up to five tons of super.

Airland Ltd. operates one of the Lodestars from the Hawke’s Bay Airport at Napier .

Close Knit Team

With an extremely close knit team of three pilots, three loaders, one operations supervisor, and one administration manager, the firm of Sherwood Aviation Ltd., utilising three Fletcher Fu.24 aircraft and three loaders, are spreading between 15,000 and 18,000 tons per year. Up to 75% of this volume is spread in the first six months, between January and February, and for one two-man team to spread 100 tons a day is nothing out of the ordinary.

When compared with the 30 tons a day, with a six-man team in the Tiger Moth era, it can easily be seen that the development of this industry over a relatively short time, without benefit of overseas experience, is nothing short of incredible and is indicative of New Zealand’s part in the world of aviation.

Photo caption – A familiar scene on today’s sheep farms as the sheep farmer arrives to see how the work is going. In the foreground is the supervisor’s radio-equipped car, so necessary in directing operations which are governed by unpredictable weather conditions. In the background an earlier-type loader drops a 15-cwt. load of super into the waiting Fletcher. The “stand still” time of the aircraft is less than 15 seconds.

Page Sixty-two

Congratulations to Hawke’s Bay on the new Airport serviced through
The new Napier Airport becomes the 503rd airport throughout the world serviced by Fokker Friendship flights. In-and out-going passengers will enjoy the comfort, speed and convenience of this outstanding aircraft, which is operated by 80 airlines through many countries of the world.
Royal Netherlands Aircraft Factories Fokker
N.Z. Concessionaires for Fokker Friendship – Todd Bros. Ltd., Wellington

Page Sixty-three


The Royal New Zealand Air Force today is not a peacetime nucleus on which to build if war should come. It is a “force-in-being”, which means that if at any time it is called upon to fight, it must fight with what it has.

The new concept was adopted some six years ago when all territorial squadrons were disbanded.

Today’s R.N.Z.A.F. is an efficiently organised, flexible Service with a scope of operations circling the globe. Its members are scattered from the humid climes of exotic South-east Asia to world centres such as Washington and London, and to the ice and snow of Antarctica.

New Zealand’s Commitments

With a strength of 4000 men and women, the R.N.Z.A.F. operates a wide variety of aircraft to play its part in helping New Zealand honour her defence commitments. These commitments stem from the responsibility for home defence and the defence of her Island territories, from her Commonwealth associations and from her obligations under the collective security agreements to which she is a party. These include Seato, Anzus and Anzam.

New Zealand, along with her partner nations, must depend greatly on collective security measures for her defence to be effective, and the R.N.Z.A.F.’s part governs the organisation of the Service.

The basic tasks of the Air Force are:
To provide forces for the defence of New Zealand and her Island territories.
Surveillance and defence of home waters and those sea areas for which it is responsible.
To provide forces for operations in the South-east Asian area.
To maintain a long-range airlift capability to carry and support New Zealand forces overseas.
To maintain forces for the defence of the Anzam region – Australia New Zealand and Malaysia.
To maintain training and supply establishments.

Photo caption – An R.N.Z.A.F. Vampire Jet and Bristol Freighter

To meet these tasks the R.N.Z.A.F. operates in three main roles: Maritime, which includes ocean reconnaissance and anti-submarine operations; fighter/bomber operations, and transport.

The Air Force operates Sunderlands in its maritime operations, Vampires and Canberras in its fighter/bomber operations, and DC3’s and DC6’s, Hastings and Bristol Freighters in the transport role.

Replacement Considerations

At present the Government is considering the Lockheed Orion as a replacement for the veteran Sunderlands, and three Lockheed Hercules C-130E transport aircraft are under construction for the Transport Wing and should begin coming into operation by the end of this year.

Behind the operation of Service aircraft is a relatively large technical and administrative organisation manned by several thousand highly-skilled and dedicated men and women.

All these people, as well as the aircrews, are trained to a high level at establishments located at various R.N.Z.A.F. Stations throughout New Zealand.

On picturesque Wigram, birthplace of aviation in New Zealand, young men entering the Service as aircrew aspirants receive their exacting training at the Flying Training School.

Technical training for those who keep the aeroplanes in the air is provided at Woodbourne, near Blenheim, and at Wigram and Hobsonville.

Te Rapa – A Stores Station

One whole station – Te Rapa, near Hamilton is devoted entirely to the task of supplying. Here in huge stores the complete requirements of the Service from new tyres for aircraft to shoes for the servicemen are held.

DC-6 and Hastings aircraft of No. 40 Squadron operate to the United Kingdom through the East and the United States. Bristol Freighters of Singapore-based No. 41 Squadron are at present operating both in Singapore and Thailand, Sunderlands of No. 5 Squadron operate around the Pacific from R.N.Z.A.F. Station, Lauthala Bay in Fiji, and Canberras of No. 14 Squadron based at Ohakea are held at readiness to depart for overseas if needed. The Canberras take part in exercises in Southeast Asia regularly.

Photo captions –

The sleek and graceful, yet deadly, Canberra Jet Bomber as at present operated by the R.N.Z.A.F.

At left: A Handley Page “Hastings” transport aircraft which is, together with The large and imposing DC.6 now in service for the R.N.Z.A.F. Transport Wing. These aircraft operate to the United Kingdom through the East and the United States, its primary purpose being the movement of troops to and from New Zealand areas of commitment.

The following news item appeared in THE TIMES recently:
From our Aeronautical correspondent
Apart from routine maintenance a Rolls-Royce Dart turbo-prop engine has remained “undisturbed” in a B.E.A Vicker Viscount airliner for more than two years. During this time the engine was in operation for just over 4,526 hours and the aircraft in which it was installed travelled more than 993,000 statute miles, made more than 3,200 take-offs and carried 144,180 passengers.
Rolls-Royce claimed yesterday that this was the longest operating time for which any aero-engine in the world had been left installed in the same aircraft and a preliminary investigation of this engine showed it to be in good condition.

Little people are among NAC’s most important passengers.

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Surnames in this book –

Allington, Anderson, Ansett, Atherfold, Atkinson, Baker, Bannister, Barnard, Batten, Begley, Bledisloe, Bolt, Boyes, Brown, Burgess, Chambers, Chichester, Claridge, Clark, Clarke, Clouston, Cox, Crawshaw, Cray, Daniell, David, Dearman, Dickson, Downer, Dryden, Earl, Edwards, Field, Fisher, Fletcher, Gerrand,  Gibson, Giorgi, Grant-Dalton, Greer, Gunn, Hanger, Harris, Harston, Hawkins, Haxton, Hewitt, Holt, Hood, Hooper, Howarth, Hurst, Husheer, Johnstone, Kay, Kingsford Smith, Kirkup, Kitchener, Knight, Lamont, Langley, Lett, Leys, Limerick, Marsden, Mayer, McAlpine, McGregor, Menzies, Miles, Miller, Mills, Moeller, Moncrieff, Musick, Nash, Newbigin, Nicholl, Nicholls, Nichols, Nilsson, Nimon, Nolan, O’Brien, O’Hara, Ogilvie, Oram, Orr, Pallow, Pearse, Perkins, Porter, Robinson, Schaef, Scotland, Semple, Smith, Spiller, Stead, Stewart, Strumple, Sutherland, Tait, Tattersal, Tatton, Therkleson, Tillson, Ulm, van Asch, Walker, Walsh, Webber, White, Whitehead, Wigram, Wilkes, Willicombe, Williams, Wright

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  • H D Hanger

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